September, 1st happened to be my Mom’s birthday. And it also happened to be the day when I got called by the law firm where I spent three weeks as an intern with bad news. I was not offered a training contract.
The past few days I found myself thinking back a lot. The 27th August is a special day. 5 years ago, on that day, I officially moved to London, leaving my friends and my small town life behind for a fast-paced and colorful life.
So I’m going to write down the most important things I’ve learnt in this past 5 years, whilst I listen to the Jonas Brothers to make me nostalgic of my teen years (I’m turning 22 this year).
- Not all friendships last forever. And that’s okay.
When I was a teen, I remember promising and being promised that friendships will last forever. We would write in our diaries heartfelt letters to remind one another of our amazing bond set to last the test of time.
You move, you fight, you change and all those experiences have the power to change the nature of your friendship or even break it.
Before I moved I used to gravitate around a great number of people. Although my best friend has always been the same, I considered many of my classmates to be my friends. The moment I moved, I realized who were the friends worth keeping and who happened to be an acquaintance masqueraded as a friend. I realized who I could be bothered to keep in touch with, and I realized that some people genuinely did not care that much once I was gone.
I agonized over some of those dissolved friendships, friendships that simply withered away. Then I got over it and figured out that it’s life.
You move, you grow, you change. Some friendships survive and some die.
Not all friendships last forever. And that’s okay.
2. Plans change. It’s life.
I knew what I wanted to do with my life when I was 5. My parents proudly recount the story, their eyes glistening with a hint of nostalgia at witnessing the active and bubbly child I was. Apparently my dad asked what I wanted to do when I grow up and I answered firmly:
“I want to become a doctor to help children.”
And until I was 17 that’s all I wanted to do. I obsessed over websites of universities, agonized over choosing the right high school, and I genuinely loved biology and chemistry.
Some things had changed though, I really didn’t want to cure children. I loved the idea of becoming a trauma surgeon or a neurologist.
And now here I am studying history and politics at university.
I sometimes still think about hospitals longingly. But plans change. It’s life.
3. Some people will try to bring you down
Do I even have to explain this one?
Yes, some people genuinely want you to fail and they’ll relish when you do. They try to stop you by undermining your self-esteem, like the girl who wanted to talk me out of doing A-levels because they are hard, or the one who claimed that I had only gotten into Oxford because I was black.
To them I say: I’m sorry you feel the need to bring others down because you’re unhappy or because you are afraid to dream big.
4. Failure is an option
What I’ve learnt more than anything these past 5 years is that it’s okay to fail at times, and it’s okay to acknowledge the possibility of failure. I spent so much time aspiring to impossible standards and being terrorized by failure that it stopped me from even trying.
I’m now learning to accept that things don’t always go as you want them to and sometimes try as you might you may fail. The best thing one can do in these circumstances is to learn from the experience and try again.
Failure is an option as long as you learn from it and keep trying.
5. Be grateful
Be grateful for every single moment. Be grateful for the people you meet, the people who love you and cherish you. Be grateful for being right here, right now. Be grateful for being alive. Too many times I got lost in transition, thinking about ifs and buts, thinking about yesteryear and tomorrow without taking the time to appreciate what I have here and now.
Being grateful is an essential ingredient to happiness. I’ve learnt to find greatness in the moments of silence, in walking someplace, in getting lost listening to music.
And I’m freaking grateful for all of that.
6. Be open-minded
At times we can be our worst enemy. When you let fear, prejudice or anything really stopping you from having an open mind, you end up cutting yourself off from endless possibilities.
Moving to another country was the best thing I could ever do in that respect. 5 years ago I could not imagine moving anywhere. I loved my town life, and I used to dream of a comfortable life in the town where I spent all my life. Then I disrupted my whole life and going back I would do it over and over again.
I have met so many people from around the world, I have talked to them and listened to their stories. I have tasted food from different corners of the world, I have travelled on my own and I now dream of more adventures. I have learnt to say yes to opportunities instead of denying myself the chance to try something new.
Being more open-minded has made me a better person.
7. Embrace uncertainty
And this brings me to the last point. Uncertainty can be good. Sometimes you need some level of disruption, some time to re-evaluate our path, and to examine our journey – past and present. Sometimes you just need to reboot.
Instead of hating uncertainty now, I try to be curious about it and embrace it. Let’s see where it leads me, see where I want to go and what kind of person I want to be.
It’s been an amazing 5 years. It’s been a rollercoaster and a blast. There have been tears, fights, anger, regret, giddiness, disappointment, sadness, satisfaction and happiness. I can’t wait for the next 5 years and see where they lead me.