Time flies when you have fun. That’s what they say. Ten months have gone by, without me realising it. It is funny how this little leap of faith has brought me into this very point. This is my last blog as a student blogger for the IME course and I would like to take a moment to reflect what this adventure has brought me, and what the next step forward would be *I’m not crying, you are :”).
So, where should I begin? *big sigh. Being here in Manchester, pursuing a master’s degree in the course that I love, is a dream come true. This experience is almost like a surreal parallel universe for me. Where the reality of the adult world does not seem real (yet), as I enjoy the student life all over again.
If you followed me from my first blog, I have never been anywhere. So being here for these past months is like a crazy adventure for me. Just like Alice in wonderland, I am constantly amazed by everything that I see and experience here. The urge to make the most of this experience has pushed me to try new things, go to new places, meet new people, and do things that I normally did not do. Soaking in everything that I can get as much as possible before it ends.
As much as I love studying and living abroad, I have almost come to the end of the journey, reality starts to hit, what-I-am-going to-do-after-this questions start to haunt me. When I first came here, I was so sure that I want to build my own businesses and bring my current venture to a new height of success. I love the idea to generally work for myself because I have tasted the bittersweet of the corporate world and I have had enough of it.
Making a new business, on the other hand, is not as easy and cool as it looks either. I have a business myself back in Indonesia and trust me, IT IS NOT EASY. In fact, 9 out of 10 start-ups fail, and that is just the cold harsh truth. It takes strong commitment, persistence and requires a high amount of resources, including your time, energy and money. Meanwhile, we are not getting any younger, there are bills to pay, and pressures start to kick in.
So, what is it going to be? A lot of my friends here are so eager to get a job somewhere in the UK or Europe, to get a permanent visa after finishing their studies. Which is understandable by the way, as it gives more certainty, especially for their survival here in the UK.
This year, I am turning 25 years old and the pressure is getting real, especially with the new fancy degree later. People may expect greater things to come from me. Or that’s what I thought. My anxiety gets worse as I keep thinking about what people may think of me and what the future looks like after finishing this chapter of my life. It gets even worse when I look around and see what some of my peers have achieved, what positions they are at in some posh companies or the cool businesses that they have established. Yes, the little demon inside me loves to compare myself with the others, which is completely absurd, I know, but well, sometimes it just happens. The idea of the unknown and uncertainty scare me, as my little bubble in this parallel universe starts to burst.
I don’t know If anybody feels the same confusion and anxiety, but If you do, you are not alone.
So here is the truth, a mantra that I have been telling myself every time my anxiety kicks in (ask my friends, my anxiety comes and goes, even as I am writing this). People do not care that much to what we do, to be honest, as they have a lot on their plate as well. As one of my professors told us in one of the classes, “the world does not revolve around you”. Sure, they may comment or judge a little here and there. And you know what, it does not affect your life, and life, in general, goes on. So, at the end of the day, you do you. Whichever you prefer, embrace the consequence either the good, the bad and the ugly, because hey, life is not a fairy tale with a happily-ever-after ending. It is messy and full of surprises, and all we can do is just grasping all the little happiness along the way.
For me? Recently, I started two internships in two different start-ups for two days a week, to get the feel of what it is like to work in the UK and try to apply my skill and knowledge for real businesses. Although they are unpaid internships, hey, it is a good experience. As I want to start my own start-up later, I can a learn a thing or two from these start-ups. And again, I want to immerse myself with all the experiences that I could get in this short period.
During my study, I start to be interested in social entrepreneurship, in fact, I took it as my dissertation topic. I like the idea of living the meaningful life for a greater cause, and not just for personal benefit. I aim to build my own social enterprise back in Indonesia in the coming years. But I also feel the need to learn more about social entrepreneurship right from the practitioners, before starting one myself. So, I plan to join an established social enterprise here in Europe and learn from it for a year or two. I know this means that I will have to go back to work for someone else. But hey, it is for a greater cause than me or the company itself, so I guess it will be more fulfilling (?), we’ll see…
Anyway, all of these plans may be pretty on paper but in reality, there is still high uncertainty that surrounds it. A plan is just a plan at the end of the day. What I am trying to say here is that you may make plans that may or may not happen as you wish, or you may get confused about the future in general. Well, you are not alone, some people may seem that they have everything figured out, but trust me, we are all in the same boat. Nothing is certain in life unless the change itself, and we just have to deal with it and prepare for it.
This has been quite a life-changing journey. It has given me new perspectives about life in general. It is astonishing to see how people that come from different parts of the world, can be so different, yet at the same time, I also found commonalities that make us the same.
So, enjoy the last couple of months here in this beautiful Manchester (or wherever you are now). Rather than letting your anxiety gets into you, try to grasp everything in before it’s over and make the most of it. Figure things out one step at a time, in YOUR own phase and build a life worth living, in YOUR own term.