Apologies for the radio silence; I needed a week to recuperate seeing as I’m DONE WITH MY DEGREE!!
It has been a long, hard road. One that I will, no doubt, write about in the next few weeks. However, the last few weeks have taught me a very important lesson.
I am a firm believer in seasons. Nothing you experience in life is permanent and unchanging; instead, there are times when your experiences serve solely to teach you a lesson. I don’t have a favourite Bible verse, but for every season in my life, there is at least one verse that speaks to me. At the moment it is this:
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. – Matthew 7:7-8
Jesus is simply saying cast your fears onto the Lord. Why would an omnibenevolent God not provide for you?
I am QUEEN of preaching variations of this message to others (“you don’t ask, you don’t get” and so on…) but, like many, I am terrible at taking my own advice and it took the intervention of a very dear friend for me to see this. I studied Policy, Politics and Economics and chose to write a dissertation with the title: “If there ain’t no justice then there ain’t no peace”: Evaluating the role of Black musicians in addressing racial injustice in the USA. Before you ask, yes. It was as good as it sounds (I’d be happy to share a copy with you ). I poured my heart and soul into this work of art because it combined my interests of cultural politics and musical analysis. In fact, I was so absorbed in the research for this project that I ended up deleting 5,000 words from the final submission. After sharing my vision for the project with various people (and even winning an award for this dissertation at a conference) I was convinced that I was on to something special.
I got a 2:1. Can you imagine?
I was vexed. I felt hard done by. I could not believe that this work of art received a measly 68%. What’s more, the feedback corresponded with a first on the mark scheme so, naturally, I had to confront my supervisor. He was apologetic but, ultimately, my mark stood.
I explained the situation to my friends and family and they were all outraged, but none more so than Maryam. She demanded (loudly, while we were in the library studying for our final exam) that I email the department at that moment and request a remark. I did, and after a few challenges (and prayer and fasting), I received my remark.
I got a first.
The lesson here is simple:
Lesson #4: If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
I was almost content with being underestimated even though I knew I didn’t deserve it. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has settled for less than what is deserved. Ultimately, I was lucky to have someone in my life who showed me that I was worth more. Unfortunately, however, that person may not always be there to remind you how great you are and it is down to you. Claim what is yours. The worst thing that can happen is someone says “no” and, in that case, you evaluate why and refine your pitch if necessary.
While this was a lesson I temporarily forgot in terms of my dissertation, in the past I had put this lesson into practice. Almost as soon as MOD. TO MEASURE as a concept was born, I was considering how the business would operate. I figured that a cost-effective and mutually beneficial way to run the business would be to recruit degree level fashion students, particularly because the initial designs for MOD. TO MEASURE would not be complex. I had a vision of partnering directly with a university, then I thought why should it only be a vision? I contacted a local university with fashion design courses, met with their head of fashion and essentially had to pitch the skeleton of an idea. I had no idea what I was doing but, somehow, I pulled it off and it was suggested that the work I needed for MOD. could be integrated into the course. I did not even expect a response to my email, let alone this reception!
What it came down to was, at that moment in time, I had an awful lot of self-confidence and nothing to lose. If I doubted myself for one second I wouldn’t have fulfilled my potential. If I didn’t put myself out there, I would’ve never achieved a partnership with a university. If I didn’t knock, the door wouldn’t have been opened. Although the partnership fell through in the end, we were able to develop a business relationship that I know I can call upon in future.
The moral is put yourself out there. Even if you don’t think you’re capable, you have nothing to lose. Just ask. You never know when you will receive that unexpected yes.