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Written in 2018
You read that right, I almost dropped out of university. Almost! I didn’t though and it’s wild to say that I only have one year of this crazy adventure left. Also, yeah, I have no idea what I’m going to do with my life, but you know what? That makes me so incredibly excited.
Let me start from the beginning. If you’re somewhat new here (hi by the way, thank you for coming by!), I’m currently studying for my law degree in the beautiful city of London. I started in the autumn of 2017 and was so excited to embark on this adventure, having all these ideas about what I wanted the experience to be.
When I started, I knew for a fact that I wanted a long term career in the law. Or so I thought. London was where I had always wanted to go and I am incredibly privileged to be able to live out my dream.
Fast forward about a year and I think I did the first year right. In the sense that I did everything that you’re supposed to do. I had lots of friends, I did all the dorm parties, all the late nights and tinder dates, I joined all the clubs, did a summer internship and spent all my studying hours in the library while maintaining a near perfect attendance.
Then came the brisk autumn of 2018, whereupon emerged a completely different version of myself. See, through starting this blog and getting to understand the world of social media, I was exposed to many different types of people. A part of me had already begun to figure out that law might not be the career path for me. At least not the highly competitive, stress-inducing, anxiety fuelling study of law that would involve giving up half or more of my twenties.
I had done quite a bit of travelling in my life, having recently visited Samoa, Istanbul, Portugal and living in London which opened my eyes to a lot of the environmental, social, political and economic problems facing humanity. I had also met a lot of people who thought the same way I did about the modern day working world and who understood the empathy I felt towards what I saw as a world in distress.
After a while, I came to dislike the term ‘career’ as we know it. A career by definition is ‘an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life and with opportunities for progress.’ Put that into reality, and a significant period becomes your whole life, and opportunities for progress are judged by other people’s standards. ‘Progress’ is a bigger house, a more luxurious car, a walk-in wardrobe, an office on the top floor and a seat at the popular table.
But we didn’t start this trend. What I was being exposed to was the blasphemous idea that not only CAN you live your life doing all the things that make you light up inside, but you absolutely MUST. You mean I don’t have to live my life based on what a paternalistic money-driven society tells me I should? Absolutely shocked!
The baby boomers will have us believe that more is best, but that’s all they’ve known. And it’s understandable, we don’t blame them, in fact, we love them because they’re our parents and without them, we wouldn’t be here. But they’ve lived in a time when they simply did not have.
See, you and I belong to the generation that is revolutionising the societal structures that our parents and grandparents built. That includes the concept of ‘careers’. We’re the generation of bloggers and photographers, the internet users, the van lifers and purposeful charity shoppers, the boundary pushers and big thinkers who see no value in lives spent behind desks servicing the whims of greedy capitalist businesses.
We want to cure the earth, travel, reconnect humanity, be creative, contribute, and create a living for ourselves fuelled by our wildest passions.
I was experiencing all of this external stimulus that dared me to think that just maybe I could do the things that I am passionate about AND make a living AND have a happy life by my now minimalist standards (read more about my minimalism journey here!).
I had this sudden overwhelming urge that a lot of us have right now, to live my life in pursuit of true fulfilment, the kind that I now understand comes from contribution and social connection, and not consumerism, corporate ladders and ephemeral laws that pretend to keep us intact but can be used against us the moment a wealthy agenda is more important.
Now don’t get me wrong, the world needs people behind the desks. The world will always need them but in the same way that there are people who hate the idea of working behind a desk, there are those that absolutely thrive in that setting. That’s precisely what we want, people to thrive in their jobs and to love coming into their ‘office’, whatever that word means for them.
All of this to say that I was getting exasperated with a degree I didn’t see as being useful. I was having a mental breakdown! Not that I wasn’t enjoying it! Because I did and do still find the content thoroughly interesting. But I didn’t see it as useful to the life I wanted to live and disagreed with a lot of things.
So, I wanted to up and leave. I had no idea where exactly to and to do what but I needed to go! I had pretty much packed my bags and it was extremely difficult because of all the pressure I felt I was under. Ultimately, I decided to stay because I felt I owed it to myself. I had come half way already and had worked so hard my entire schooling life to get to where I was, that I owed it to the younger version of myself to see it through.
I knew that if I could just get through my degree, then I could live my life by my rules and my definition of happiness. None the less, there was the voice of society inside my head telling me that my ideas weren’t ‘secure’, that they’re a ‘phase of youth.’ THEN, I witnessed 16 year old Gretna Thunberg defiantly stand up for what she believes in. She showed the entire world that taking the path less traveled by and standing up for what you believe in is right at EVERY age.
If at 16, she can do what she did and take on some of the biggest governments in the world, I sure as heck at 21 can go with my gut and embrace my minimalist, travel loving, passion chasing self, knowing that this is who I am, it is not a phase and I am here to stay.
Now that my second year of university is almost finished, I’m very happy that I stayed.
I think the law is a highly fascinating subject with a rich history. I just don’t agree with much of it and think that there is much of society that needs to be reframed. And I’m proud to say that out loud. Could I play a part in the reframing? Why not! But dare I say that from what I’ve observed, the justice most of us seek, is very rarely achieved in courtrooms and will much likely only be served once we’ve paid our dues.
I’m happy that I stayed because not only do I now get to finish this experience with the friends that I have come to call my family, but I now understand, through living the experience, the doors that further education can open, and the invaluable lessons that the experience can teach.
If you have the chance to go to university, I absolutely think that you should, so long as it is to do something that interests you. I wouldn’t take back a single moment from these last two years.
So, here I am, about to enter my final year of this big university adventure and I could not be more excited. There were moments last year when I would cry myself to sleep, I would have panic attacks just thinking about the state of the world and not knowing what part I’m supposed to play in it.
Then, as it always does, the sun came up and I saw that as much as there are wrongs, there are also plenty of rights. The universe won’t ever send you all the answers, but she will send you a sign to remind you to trust that she will make it work.
I was able to ground myself in the fact that I am going through this incredible gift called life, in a healthy body that protects, heals and nurtures me, living on this beautiful biosphere, our planet, that is ours to protect. I began taking better care of my mental health and to ground myself in present moments and things that I am passionate about, like this blog, cooking, family, friends, journaling, meditating, cultural travel and social contribution.
I still think about the future constantly, and yeah it’s incredibly daunting, but I’m no longer scared by the prospects of it anymore. I love the fact that it’s so uncertain. I get to graduate next year and then embark on an entirely new journey of hopefully never-ending growth.
You don’t have to spend this time in your life worrying about a ‘career’ that society says is meant to last till you 60. You don’t have to wait till you retire to live your life. Live your life now. Do that degree, get that job you’ve always wanted, eat that food, write that blog post, start that instagram page for your singing, go on that hike, ask that special human out.
Not to say that any of it will be easy, because it won’t, it’ll require lots of hard work, and getting back up when you’ve fallen down. You will be criticised and judged but just remember that those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. Live by immersing yourself in the present, because we don’t know where we or the world will be in 5 years time.
And most importantly, seize those childlike passions and never let them go. Let them fuel the hard, sometimes monotonous work you have to do to get to the next short term goal (I see you exam season).
I’d like to leave you with a quote from a meditative story that I listen to whenever I’m feeling a bit down:
‘We live in a culture that constantly reminds us what’s missing from our lives, but as wisdom has long known, happiness comes not from acquiring more but from finding a deep appreciation for what’s already there. And when we deliberately take the time to recognise all there is to appreciate, we are uplifted by the powerful force of gratitude.’
Sit back, grab some Oreos, and I can’t wait to see what life has to offer us next,