Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time? It’s that dreaded question that I have almost always faced in every interview I have ever done.
It’s not always ten years, sometimes it’s five – even worse, sometimes it’s where do you see yourself this time next year – and that is an almost insulting question. Honestly, at this point in my life, I would rather be asked to sing a song that best describes me, or tell them two truths and a lie, or even figure out exactly how many tennis balls would fit in this room. They are more appealing; and easier to answer. That is because I simply don’t know. I have no clue. I have a general direction – but I’m 24 and that direction has shifted slightly every year since I’ve had to start coming up with an answer to the question – ‘So, what are you hoping to do next?’ Suddenly, next is now.
This year hasn’t turned out anything like I had imagined or planned for, yet we all dealt with what was handed to us and made the best out of the situation. I must admit I am slightly worried about the future. When I meet someone who also studied at Manchester and they ask me what my time here was like and sadly, I have few experiences to share. In fact, postgraduate studying was never something I pictured myself doing – I remember finishing off my bachelor’s degree and thinking thank God that’s it, I am officially done!!! I guess all plans are subject to change. It’s frustrating when people say to you when you’re studying, ‘Oh, you’ll have to face the real world sooner or later!’ As if what we are doing is almost an illusion-fantasy half-life.
Completing a degree during a pandemic has been a challenge, and one, if I say so myself, was definitely a ‘real world’ challenge. But, stepping off the deep end into a career will feel foreign, and if I am completely honest, one I am not sure I am prepared for. Currently, I feel as though getting back to normal is enough of an issue – but getting back to the person I am without being in education is tricky. The job experience I have, I have always made sense of by liking it to school. It's all we know for at least eighteen years of our lives – deadlines, timetables, rules, structure, format, and routine. Readjusting ourselves to the so-called ‘real world’ will be difficult, but I’m confident that if we can get through this year, we can get through anything.
This entire year has felt like a blur, yet at the exact same time like we have only just started. Whether or not that is because a year actually isn’t as long as we would like to think it is – or because Covid has stripped away all timekeeping skills – is a debate for another time. This year and my experiences at Manchester University have been life-changing, and even though I have absolutely no idea where I will be this time next year, I am sure I will be able to look back fondly and reminisce on my memories of studying in the year the world stood still.
Best of luck to you all in the future.