A guest post by BIDN alumni Scarlett Stock, who attended our workshop in April 2017: Before I Die I Want To…Be Me.
Tomorrow I am graduating from University. How do I feel about entering ‘the real world’? Numb. To be perfectly honest, I feel numb. I’ve tried to write this blog countless times, but all I could come up with was cliché nonsense – ‘I’m nervous but excited,’ ‘I’m so proud to see three years of hard work pay off,’ ‘after three years of ups and downs, I can’t wait to see what comes next.’ Pff. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the job I’ve got lined up makes me feel so passionate about the prospect of the positive change I could make over the next two years. However… those phrases do not encapsulate how it feels for me to leave behind the most thrilling, emotionally draining, empowering and character-affirming time of my life so far. For me, there are too many conflicting emotions to process.
And I’ve realised that’s okay. Some people are terrified. Others are overflowing with enthusiasm. What I’ve learned is that there is no ‘right’ way to feel about change; although a core factor that has kept me some version of sane is self-awareness.
On the day I got my 2.1 degree result, I felt absolutely nothing (that, and a tinge of relief). I sat in bed and thought “Oh, I should probably tell my family.”
“GOT A 2.1 LAW DEGREE!!! Xxxx” were the words I sent, as I sat there straight-faced. I felt like I should be happy. Or, failing that, at least try to sound happy – like everyone’s Facebook statuses announced throughout results day.
For me, these three years have been tough, but the most fun yet. I’ve figured out how to be happy. And the biggest part of that is learning what makes you happy; living life on your own terms. Hence, the prospect of leaving uni, a place where I really discovered my happiness, was not something I wanted to face. Being someone who is usually the ultimate evader of change, I knew that accepting I was in my final year was one of the greatest mountains to overcome.
So what did I do? I forced myself to research jobs, no matter how much it pained me. I forced myself to be completely aware that I was leaving. I’d talk about it openly, instead of avoiding it.
I was so in the moment, I could readily process every part of the last times at uni. In the days that I stopped facing up to the situation, going into a state of denial, reality would soon hit me slap-bang in the face and I would feel awful. Lost. Scared.
However you feel about your next steps in life – be aware of it, and don’t let that stop you progressing. You need to give yourself what you need. You are unique.
In my job-hunting research I stumbled upon the Before I Die Network. I was lucky enough to be in London on the day of their goal-setting workshop, and along I went. It was the most mentally stimulating and emotionally exhausting five hours of my life. It made me question what I want and who I am, and I couldn’t be more grateful for that.
One of the greatest lessons from that night – success is on your own terms. Whether it’s money, or travelling, or helping people – you have to figure out what you want out of life.
Me? I’ve always been involved in charity work. It was staring me right in the face the whole way through my Law degree that this was the sector I was made for, but I just didn’t see it – owing to lack of self awareness.
The Before I Die Network helped me to ask these terrifyingly large questions; in 100 years, what do I want to be remembered for? What do I want to achieve? Nothing meaningful happens if you don’t open your eyes to this.
Once you find the answers, then you work on the how.
For now I’m entering my first stepping stone towards the impact I want to make in my life. I’m open for the how to change along the way. And I’m excited for it to do just that.
Olivia, who founded the Before I Die Network, instils this sense in her work of us all being unique and extraordinary. It’s a wild notion in a world where we all feel the compulsion to fit in. But we each have something distinct and irreplaceable to give.
Sounding too hopeful for you? A graduation speech transcript Olivia sent me has stuck with me since the day I read it. One part in particular – ‘The most unrealistic person in the world is the cynic, not the dreamer. Hope only makes sense when it doesn’t make sense to be hopeful. This is your century. Take it and run as if your life depends on it.’
In times where everything feels futile, I remember: It makes sense to be hopeful.
So I intend to fill myself to the brim with hope, embrace success on my own terms, along with however that makes me feel, and then fling myself full-throttle into my next chapter – because there’s no reason not to.
A guest post by BIDN alumni Pippa, who attended our workshop in November 2016: Before I Die I Want To…Make Fun-damental Change.
Before I die I want to… use my time on this planet to make a real contribution and be proud of the work that I do.
Something that’s stayed with me that I learned from the BIDN workshop… is that this planet is filled with open-minded, kind, innovative human beings who want to make positives changes to this world too. So there is hope and we might just be okay after all. Also, that there is nothing wrong with making mistakes. In fact, this is perhaps one of the most important lessons I learned at BIDN. Even though this is not a new concept to me (we all learn from our mistakes, blah, blah, blah), it’s absolutely the first time I believed it and perhaps even accepted it. ‘Mistakes’ for me were always these big terrifying monsters that had the potential to swallow me whole. BIDN reframed mistakes in a way that turned that monster into more of an ally. That might sound kinda bonkers, but it’s helped me so much in the weeks since the workshop!
What I’m proudest of having achieved since the workshop… is that I finally decided to invest in myself in the form of a HUGE career change. When the practical aspect of this fell apart, I didn’t give up… I persevered and have actually ended up in a much place, and one that I could have never imagined. If I’d given up at the first hurdle I would never have met such an amazing new group of people and be on my way to a really exciting and rewarding new career path.
What I’ve noticed about how I pursue my ambitions now is… that I am able to do so with real conviction and confidence. BIDN gave me the support and encouragement I needed to become much more self-aware with what it was I wanted to achieve. Now, with such a clear goal in mind the pursuit of it is exciting, instead of drenched in anxiety.
My current focus/challenge around my goal is… to find balance. I’ve done all the heavy lifting, I’m on my new path already. I need to make sure not to get burned out or lose inspiration. In the first workshop we did a visualization exercise and I still use that when I’m feeling overwhelmed or thinking about giving up. Giving up has been my party trick for the last few years and part of my goal is to break this cycle!
People can reach out to me to help via my email: phillipabrown [at] gmail [dot] com. I especially like book recommendations 🙂
A month after I landed in London, I attended a workshop by myself, and we were asked to fill in the blank of “Before I Die I want to…”
I stared at the empty box, not knowing what to think. To be honest, the thought of dying hadsn’t cross my mind. I began to remember the devastating moment when my 14 year old cat passed away in 2014. Most pet owners would agree, our precious pets are our friends and family. My cat passing lead me to rethink my priorities, in the sense that death is inevitable, so seize the moment to avoid life regrets.
As a result of that thought process, I look back at the things I’ve accomplished since I graduated from university. I was told all my life that I need to have a stable job to survive, so as soon as I graduated, my only mission in life was to find a corporate job. 7 years and 4 different departments within the same organisation later, I quit my corporate life in Vancouver to exercise my working holiday visa before I was too old to take advantage of it. Something I never thought I would do: quitting. The irony is, as soon as I relocated, I got so ill I couldn’t even leave my bed for two weeks. I guess this is what can happen when you take a real break.
Devastated from illness and trying to adapt to the London life, I began my job search journey. I spent a solid month talking to recruiters, applying for jobs, working trial shifts and doing endless volunteering. I started to think my London escape might have been a mistake. At this moment, a friend of mine told me about the Before I Die Network and that there was an event happening on December 16th.
Why not? I thought. The worst case scenario is spending money on tube fare and 3-4 hours of my time. But “what if”? What if it was awesome? So I went. And it was a great experience.
So back to the box, what did I write?
Before I die I want to … Be comfortable being myself, have the confidence to face reality and be the boss of my own future without feeling guilty about it. I want to stop following others and do the things I care about. I want to take control.
Living in this fast-paced-dog-eat-dog world of opportunity, time is money, but most importantly timing is everything. It was a struggle to stick to my goals and not look back to what I had. I love dedicating all my time to helping others but the opportunity cost is really high. I over-volunteered for a few months and lost complete control of my life. Fortunately, my passion to follow my dream – to run projects with social impact hasn’t changed. My strategy, however, changed massively every time I reflected on the goals I wrote at the BIDN: Live Boldly workshop.
One thing I really enjoyed about the BIDN workshop was the skills section. There were 5-6 categories (i.e. creative, academic, entrepreneurial,etc), each represented with a different color post-it. Participants were asked to take post-its of what they are good at and stick them on their arms and write the skills they lack on their chest. I ended up gaining valuable advice from a lady involved in the food and health industry, then chatting with a graphic designer, and learned some tips on photoshop.
Another great aspect about the workshop is the accountability section where we form small groups to encourage each other. I made friends with one of the girls there and we went out for lunch a couple of weeks after the workshop.
My current focus:
- My jobs
- My feel-good projects with the people I pick to be on my team
- Volunteer gigs that I really want to do
- Everything else
Since the workshop, the most exciting project I’ve worked on is facilitating in a youth exchange on social entrepreneurship in Lithuania and Ireland for people age 18-30. As a result of that youth exchange, I made friends in Portugal and Spain and am now planning a charity fashion show focused on female empowerment and clothing donation to refugees to prepare them for winter.
I am an Event Planning and Marketing Consultant and Founder of Catch Events. I specialise in customised events, corporate launch, charity galas and conferences. My current focus is to find innovative ways to tackle challenges within the social innovative space. The two main projects I am working on include #RedstartStories – a collaborative project to bring awareness to the ethical aspect of the fashion and art industry through storytelling; and the Social Enterprise Experience Tours, where social businesses in London will be featured through interactive walking tours. The purpose of these projects is to build a portal which promotes the importance of collaboration. I am also an active member in the social innovation networks including: MakeSense, Empowerhack, Ammal.io and GCDA.
You can reach me via the following channels:
“Before I die I want to…” Are you ready to fill it out?