'Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.'
The Saïd Business School blog team asked me to write this, my final post for them, many weeks ago.
When I say many, I really mean many weeks ago. I kept putting it off. Yes, I did have some legitimate reasons, such as finishing up the final essays and taking our word count total to circa 45,000 for the year; incorporating my and my business partners’ new startup; and partying hard in Capstone Week. However, when I think about it, really and truly the real reason why I kept putting writing this blog post off: it signals the end. The end of one of, if not, the best year of my life; the end of meeting some extraordinary, fun and talented people; and the end of my time in this wonderful city.
It marks the end of stress-filled nights of cobbling together 3,000-word essays, the end of late-night team Zoom sessions creating PowerPoint decks Peter Drobac would be proud of, the end of interviewing former prime ministers, delivering presentations to current business leaders, enjoying late-night parties in Port Meadow and completing early morning runs in Christ Church Meadow. So, 45,000 words, 311 new friends, 21 different modules and 1 broken foot later: the end of one incredible year.
I recently came across the Commencement address the late Steve Jobs gave to the 2005 class of Stanford University. If you haven’t heard it, I highly recommend watching it on YouTube. It really made me contemplate my time at Oxford. In it, Jobs talks about a quote he came across in his younger days: 'If you live every day as if it’s your last, someday you’ll be right.' And from then on, every day he asked himself: 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to today?' And if he answered 'no' too many times in a row, he knew he needed to change something.
Only six years after delivering that speech, Jobs sadly passed away at the age of 56 – too soon for a man who really did change the world.
I don’t mean to take such a morbid tone when reflecting on my incredible time at Oxford; it truly has been wonderful. I am fortunate to reflect and realise that, actually, I did (unknowingly) take Jobs’ advice and I did actually make the most of every day. Yes, there may have been a few assessment weeks when cranking out nearly 10,000 words felt like a bad decision! But, really, I have been blessed to experience this, to learn and actually do something every day that I wanted to do. That is a privilege and I know it.
After my first week here in September 2020, I wrote a blog post on my own website reflecting on my first week at the School. I want to repeat those three same reflections here, as looking back, I can now see that they are not only relevant for week one, but for week 52 as well.
- This year will fly by – I can completely vouch for this, so make the most of every day and every moment.
- Everyone you meet will be impressive but, as Dean Tufano told us in his opening address, 'nobody made a mistake in accepting you here' – never have I met such an impressive, yet humble, hardworking and warm group of people.
- Never regret having an oat milk coffee with someone: you never know what opportunities it could lead to – as an aspiring entrepreneur last September, this has played out to be so completely true; my business partner, Jas, and I would never be launching our startup today if it wasn’t for The Handlebar Café.
Thank you, Oxford, for everything you have given me: the memories, the friendships and the confidence to succeed in a happy and healthy life.