Reflections on a year that changed my life

3 minute read

'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.

  1. This year will fly by – I can completely vouch for this, so make the most of every day and every moment.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.