Tuesday 26 May 2020

Are We Really in Control of Our Successes?

We are told throughout life that we are in control of our futures; we are in control of our productivity; we can have anything we want (within reason) as long as we work for it. And whilst we are in control on some levels, there are so many ways in which we are not at all. In answer to my post title, the answer is yes and no. Yes, because I have been using lockdown to be as productive as possible in order to hopefully create future opportunities for myself. But also no, because ultimately I cannot control a global pandemic and all of it's repercussions. These unprecedented times (sorry to use the phrase everyone is sick of) show that to an extent, we are not as in control of our successes as we like to believe.

This was the year that I felt like I was really starting to get my life together; I had an internship secured for the summer break, and was ready to start revising for my second year university exams. The social media marketing internship that I had lined up at The Play House Birmingham is now cancelled for the summer, and it looks like I will only be able to undertake this at the earliest in October (university timetable permitting), if at all. I try to remind myself that all university students are in the same boat and that I have the rest of my life ahead of me, but when you are a year away from graduating, it's not much of a comfort. I don't have my whole life ahead of me to secure another internship or placement, I don't have my whole life ahead of me to get involved with new clubs and societies, and I don't have my whole life ahead of me to make myself extra-employable, when I need, or preferably would like, to be extra-employable in approximately 12 months' time. Because in a few years, I will be at a different stage in my life; this stage of my life is what will define the next, and is not something I can defer now that I am half-way through it.

But this is not a pessimistic post, more a thinking-out-loud one. The economic climate and the (un)availability of jobs after I graduate is obviously way beyond my control, but luckily I am in the position right now to try and improve my chances. On the whole, I have adapted to lockdown quite well, and this is not something I ever thought I would say, but I currently feel that I'm at the height of my productivity. I think that having university deadlines towards the beginning of lockdown has helped me stay on the ball. I have found many things to keep me busy and maintain a focus, including daily exercise, virtual internship applications, reading, voluntary work, and online courses. That is not to say that I am not productive at university, but whilst university can be the best time of your life, it can also be incredibly draining and unproductive. There are so many more things in a university environment that can affect your productivity and that are out of your control, whether it be a flatmate that decides on hosting a loud party two nights before your essay is due, or the WiFi going down across the whole of the student suburb for the best part of the day. University for me is as much about the life experience as it is about getting my degree, so I normally spread myself quite thinly over lots of activities and commitments during each term. But now that my university assignments are completed, I have a huge break, so I am doing my best to take control of it. 

We can definitely make choices to influence our productivity and our successes; I know that choosing to exercise in the morning can really boost my mood and my productivity throughout the day. But ultimately, we do not have absolute control over our successes and the extent to which hard work will come to fruition. There are just some things you cannot control or prepare for, and I think that is a healthy thing to accept.

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