By Samantha Harford
Are you like me? So focused on getting through university with a successful grade and a smooth path through life that you have no clue what the end goal actually is? I feel like I’ve kept my mind aimed at one goal that I’ve started to forget all of my others.
This July, I graduate. All my life has been leading up to this moment and I’ve never put a single thought into what I’ll be like afterwards. Until now. At sixteen my goals were this: work hard, you need those As to get into a good university. At eighteen: You need to meet your offer to get into university. At twenty: Crap, I’m here now. Better keep focus so that I can pass my degree. Now, I’m twenty-one and I’ve come to the scary realisation that up until now, all my life has been focused on getting a good education, getting into a good university—that’s it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve spent lots of time thinking about what my pathway is; I even have a five-year plan. I’ve lined up interviews and bought the fancy workwear and thought about where I’ll live. But the truth is, deep down, I don’t know what the future holds for me. This both terrifies and excites me beyond all limits. But who’s to say that what I want today will be exactly what I want tomorrow?
There are times for all of us I’m sure where we still feel like the seventeen-something teen attending open days filled with glee at the prospects of applying to university. And I’m sure looking back on that now is a nostalgic moment for all of us. Just like how in five years’ time I’ll be looking back on my graduation day with the same feeling of nostalgia. I have moved countless times and been to five different schools, so change is no stranger to me. But after three consistent years at Cardiff sometimes the idea of change starts to become scary again
That’s okay. At this stage in my life, I have friends who have secured themselves jobs, friends enrolled onto postgraduate courses, friends who have no idea, and friends like me who are waiting to find out what the future holds. Thinking about all of this change going on in my life made me look back to my very first year at Cardiff, and the kind of person that I was then. I am a complete stranger to my younger self and an exact match all at once. Just like how I imagine future me will look on present me, there is so much that I would like to say to my past self.
For this reason, I’ve compiled a short list of things I would say to the past me. Things that present me is still working on, that the future version of myself will be eternally grateful for.
Believing other people’s mindsets on my lifestyle
I almost didn’t apply to Cardiff because a teacher told me that I wasn’t smart enough. Never again.
Operating on a fixed mindset, myself
If I had a penny for every time I have stopped myself doing something amazing because I thought it wasn’t possible… Well, you know…
Productivity is NOT about consistently working late into the evening. Rest is productive. Sometimes doing nothing for a while can provide the strongest results.
There are always alternatives.
Taking ‘no’ too personally
No means no in many contexts. But, it doesn’t have to mean ‘no, you aren’t good enough to do that’.
I think what I’d like to end on is this: change is good. Whether it’s a rift in your five-year plan that sets you on a completely unexpected pathway, to changing small habits every day—change can always be made for the better. One really important lesson I have learned in life is that you should make the most of these changes (both the good and the bad), and make them for yourself. Future you will love you for it.