Years ago, the summer of 2015 to be precise, during a government internship at HR Treasury my supervisor Ted Odell (and I only remember due to the phonetical similarity to the great Tom Odell) said to me: ‘wow, I wish I could go back to university you grow so much as a person’. My young sassy internal voice protested- “I’m not a bloody Tamagotchi mate, I’ve grown up already”. But Ted Odell was right… At university you are given the space to become the person you want to become, rather than ‘changing’ it gives you the platform to transform your life from living out of circumstances and happenstance to making and living conscious choices. You live the life you choose to live.
You become your truth.
Just as Tamagotchi toys go- as all of the cool 90s’ kids will remember- you feed the egg and watch it grow. The simplistic Japanese toy became a phenomenon, bought in masses and sold in different colours. Watching the cute little egg’s stages of growth and preventing it from dying became the collective goal of kids across the nation. It is this naive and universally acknowledged truth- with better care and love a creature becomes smarter, happier and healthier that resonates with growing up.
What I‘ve learnt about myself:
The self–development titleholder:
I’ve always been ready to launch into any discussion on the benefits of self-development and self-love, at any given notice and much to the displeasure of the hapless victims I call my friends. I’ll wedge in a rehearsed (and unnecessary) Lady Macbeth-like monologue on the sanctity of solitude and ‘finding yourself’ into any conversation I believe is partially relevant. From watching Me Before You alone on a Wednesday afternoon to visiting fancy vegan restaurants abroad to attending a Slovakian symphony orchestra in Poland alone- I often advocate doing things alone. Through my fixation on self development I have grown as a person (I mean I’d be a little concerned if I hadn’t).
Currently, I’m at the stage where self-development ergo self-transformation transcends beyond myself. I’m beginning to realise the dark and insular underbelly of self-development- the fetishising of the individual. Through the complete and utter focus on the self, as opposed to the focus on others too, perhaps self-development loses out to helping the development of others? Who knows? For now, I’m just enjoying the trajectory of my development, rather than steering the ship so steadfastly.
An activist at heart:
Now this post might come across as a lavish and self-indulgent piece about me, myself and I. An extension of an over-inflated ego, just yearning to be expressed. An exercise in how many times one can possibly use the word ‘self-development’. But no. People have often told me that I’ve inspired them, to which I let out a pained typically British awkward shriek. I’m just an idiot I tell them, citing several examples to illustrate my case. And while this is all true, I have learnt that I am an activist in all that I do. Whether though encouraging people to change modules and attend ‘the greatest class in your whole undergrad degree’ to campaigning during the EU referendum to teaching and inspiring young people to aim higher. From attempting to be as socially active as I can, volunteering with different charities and talking to people from all walks of life. Through studying Politics at university I have learnt the importance of activism, both directly and indirectly, personally and publicly. I feel invigorated to enter the global arena and the global world we live in and play an active role in helping to tackle some of the great injustices and problems we face. Or perhaps I’ve just watched too many Ted Talks, and I’ll wake up tomorrow cowering at the task I’ve set myself and edit this Oprah spirit out…
I asked my head of year once if I could put walking down as a hobby on my CV and she, straining a laugh, said it’s not particularly unique. Yet at university I joined the ‘rambling and hillwalking society’, calling it hiking to reduce how lame it sounded otherwise. I’ve found that some of my perfect moments of solace come walking in the evening, directionless, in a park, with friends or even with my mum… An irrelevant person once told me that this pastime made me an introvert, psychoanalaysing it as finding tranquillity due to the lack of human contact. But, whether or not this is true, or adheres to introversion, going outdoors is something I find very therapeutic.
It results in many insightful and peculiar conversations. From the time I spent hours walking in Slovakia to the border of Vienna to the time I sat on the first bench in a park in Ningbo and deliberated death (Fu and Rin, you guys are the best depressing people I know).
A successor of failure:
I have failed. I have fallen. In the past, during my horrible and nightmare-inducing and thus memory evading college years, I failed badly. To the point I retook a year, completely changed my subjects and copied my sister’s career plans as a result. But do I regret it? No. My only regrets in life (as I imagine all soon-to-be diabetics would be) are food-related e.g. I wish I ate that extra vegan chocolate fudge cake etc.
We live in a society where the fear of failure cripples success, or any chance of it. It acts as paralysis to any move we make on the chessboard of life and shoehorns us into making lifelong resolutions masked as practicality but out of the fear of possibilities. Failure becomes shame. Failure becomes fear. And failure becomes dangerous. Yet I’ve learnt to not fear failure- if anything I am the most optimistic (and possibly delusional) pioneer of the benefits of failure.
Failure is not bad, in my eyes, as long as learn from it. Failure can teach us, force us into a different path that we had never entertained the possibility of, and make us re-evaluate our lives. If we fail- should we fail, let’s fail fast and hard. Fail forward. Keep going, swimming against the tide, trudging against the quick sand, standing up taller than ever before.
We live in a world of fully formed people.
The world expects us to just be who we are. Pre-packaged and ready made. But we aren’t. I’ve learnt that we are all transforming, continuously and consciously growing and developing. Evolving and, sometimes getting stuck in the revolving door of life, but that’s okay.
Because we are all Tamagotchis.
Thanks for reading!