The new year has given me a lot of pause for thought with regard to thinking about my life and how I manage it; in terms of how I manage to stay grounded while living a stressful and mobile life and take care of both my physical health and emotional wellbeing. I’ve come to realize that there are eight key factors in my life which keep me feeling like myself and keep me going even when it feels like things are going wrong.
This is the really difficult one, but for me this means taking responsibility for what I put into my body, how I spend my time and who I spend it with. It’s not as simple as removing any one thing in particular like alcohol or internet time, but rather exercising self control so that no one thing can take over my life.
I’ve come to realize more and more that exercise is key to my wellbeing, as a student and when I’m away from home. For me, this means running, walking, swimming, calisthenics and hiking. After university, I’m hoping to take the opportunity to expand the range of activities I engage in.
It seems obvious, but being in control of my finances and spending has been a very important development for me, especially when as a student my cash flow is so irregular. I keep track of my spending using an app and am saving towards a number of long term goals. Keeping this in mind helps to keep me focused and directed towards my professional goals.
4. Intellectual development
Studying at Oxford would seem to lead into this very easily, but in fact the tutorial system, which requires you to churn out essay after essay can in many ways be stultifying. I enjoy having the time to read things which interest me at my own pace, and also to pursue my love of languages. I also keep myself sharp through conversations with friends and writing exercises.
5. Self expression
I find my degree offers me this to a large extent, particularly, as I’ve found, in writing my thesis. Part of the reason I started this blog was to give myself an outlet for that, to allow me to have somewhere to put down some of my thoughts. I’ve also recently started keeping a journal in which I record a lot of my thoughts, dreams and experiences. I find this a useful exercise in making sense of what is happening in my life.
I’ve just come out of a prolonged and somewhat painful breakup, and although I’m still processing it, I think my friendships, acquaintanceships and family relationships are incredibly important in helping me feel like I have a place in the world. Although it’s difficult at the minute, all my encounters with others allow me an opportunity for new experiences, to learn and to develop and improve as a person.
7. Professional development
A key motivator for me in the coming months will be to work out a coherent set of professional goals for myself and a plan to work towards them. Although I have a general idea of what I want to do, I’m looking for opportunities to learn more and develop myself as who works with young people and in education.
This is probably the hardest one. For me this is not only travel but comes through in how I approach every aspect of my life in pursuing new experiences. It is something which constantly drives me when I feel myself stagnating or slipping into a rut. Hopefully this drive will be enough to keep me going!