Your girl DID THAT!
This isn’t going to be an insta photo set; I promise ?! I’m a graduate though! ✨?? Anyway, people graduate all the time and people achieve upper second class degrees all the time. However, this isn’t about people. This is about me.
I did not think I would finish my degree.
I chose to go to university because, at the time, it was a necessity. I had spent years attending banking events, insight days, and internships and I was SURE that banking was what I wanted to do. From a practical perspective, I probably would have been unable to afford to go to university unless I had a considerable amount of financial support so I spent the summer before uni scouring the internet for scholarships. I found myself on a wonderful scholarship that not only provided funding but also gave me a mentor and two paid summer internships. However, it got to a point when nothing really kept my interest at uni. Don’t get me wrong, I chose to study Policy, Politics and Economics because I found the subject areas interesting but by November of the first year, I was over it.
I thought studying an unfulfilling degree would be the extent of my problems at university; little did I know that second year would coincide with the worst year of my life. Without going into too much detail, 2016 was a year that was marred with bereavement, ill health (physical and mental), and demotivation. Aside from experiencing severe manic depressive episodes, I also spent two weeks in hospital with an undetermined illness in the middle of deadline season. By that point, I didn’t care whether I completed my degree or not. I just wanted out of everything. During my summer exams, I had what can only be described as a complete meltdown. No, it wasn’t exam stress. My mental health had been neglected for months and was a complete shambles. I failed an exam for the first time in my life because of this and was fortunate enough to be given an uncapped resit. Unfortunately, however, the resit coincided with my summer internship which left me with very little time to revise so although progress was made, my mark was still pathetic. By the time of my second summer internship, I had been exposed to the harsh reality that I would not necessarily be judged on my merits. I found myself being passed over for a role that I was more than qualified for because I didn’t look right and I didn’t study the right degree. Instead, those who fit the “criteria” (despite being underqualified) were rewarded.
So September 2016 came around. I was starting my final year. Not only did I not have the safety blanket of a graduate role with my scholarship bank, but I was disillusioned with banking altogether. I had no idea what I wanted to do once I had graduated. Obviously, MOD. TO MEASURE was a work in progress throughout all of this so I knew it was something I wanted to keep working at, but I didn’t have the resources to make that my sole venture. Instead, I decided to focus on the things that were in my control at that moment:
I put all of my energy into finishing my degree on a high. I worked harder on my dissertation than I had ever worked on anything. I attended all of my appointments. I rekindled the relationships that I had completely abandoned in second year. I was living my best life!
It is now July 2017. I wrote an award winning, first class dissertation. I got my 2:1. I completed my voluteer target. I got a part time job at the start of the most hectic part of final year and still flourished in both. I got my driver’s licence and started Portuguese on Duolingo. I didn’t apply for graduate jobs, but I applied for an incredible entrepreneurship programme, was successful, had an interview the day after my graduation and was blessed with a job the very next day. I even exceeded some of my goals by owning a car and renting my own place. The only thing left to achieve is the MOD. launch so watch this space!
When I say I did not expect to complete my degree let alone graduate in the fashion I did, people fail to take me seriously. I have always excelled academically and appeared to have it all together. I decided to share this for a number of reasons. First, I wanted to show that even the most together people do not necessarily have it together. Though it may appear that people achieve success without even trying, nothing comes without hard work and pain and it is important to remember that even when you are striving towards your own goals. The most important reason for sharing this, however, is to show that even in the most difficult situations, it is possible to exceed your expectations, but that is not possible alone. My family were my support system, but I was surrounded with other people who understood my vision for MOD., for my future, and for the world. Likeminded people will never rain on your parade, though also shouldn’t sell you dreams.
Lesson #6: Find people who will help you to achieve the impossible.
If your path is unconventional, it is particularly important to surround yourself with people who believe in you and your ambitions. As I said in opening, I am not the first to achieve a 2:1, nor will I be the last. People have achieved firsts, masters offers, even prestigious scholarships. However, this is not about them. I know that if the circumstances were in my favour I was more than capable of graduating with a first class degree but they weren’t. Do not compare your achievements to others as your circumstances may have been drastically different. Your achievements should only be evaluated in terms of yourself.
So to everyone who is reading this, regardless of where you are, BIG UP YOURSELF! You’ve made it this far! To the recent graduates, whether you are graduating with a 2:1 or a 3rd, a 1st or a 2:2, CONGRATULATIONS! You finished when many haven’t. Do not be defined by your past or your circumstances; look ahead to the future.
Life is looking pretty exciting. My NEF year and start-up adventure are just about to begin. I have plenty to say in the next few weeks so don’t forget to subscribe!
PS: Featured image is courtesy of Fatima. Hire her.