“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards”: Reflections on a year that changed my life
The Oxford Saïd 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 mine and my business partners’ new start-up; 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 the 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 ChristChurch meadow. 45,000 words later, 311 new friends, 21 different modules and 1 broken foot: 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 everyday 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 56 – too soon for a man that 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 SBS. 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 week fifty-two as well.
Thank you, Oxford, for everything you have given me: the memories, the friendships and the confidence to succeed in a happy and healthy life.
Back to top of article