“I don’t know where I’ll be going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring”
– David Bowie
To me, the end of the year is always a moment to look backwards and forwards. To meditate upon what the year has left me, and whether I achieved the goals I set—or new (and maybe better) ones came along. It is a chance to recall the lessons I learned, the moments I cherished, the expectations that were met, etc., but it’s also a moment to reflect on where I’d like the New Year to take me. For a while I haven’t been a fan of strict New Year’s resolutions (I like to keep some room for the unexpected), but I am a fan of reflecting, taking some time to think and see where I’m at, re-examine my values, motivations and pump my determination (what a word I love) to go places and lead a life I’m proud of.
Truth be told, when 2017 started, I was convinced that I was going to begin 2018 somewhere exotic (at least for my Latin American Self) in the world, in the middle of my master’s degree in the UK. I had applied for the Chevening Scholarship and had high hopes of obtaining it. My optimism was not unfounded, I had many reasons to feel good at the time…my country had been awarded a generous amount of scholarships in the previous years, I had aced my IELTS, etc, etc. But in the end, as you well know if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, it didn’t happen. Some things went wrong, the timing wasn’t right, the number of scholarships for my country were reduced dramatically, who knows, many could have been the reasons. There is no point crying over spilled milk. I refuse to take a defeatist attitude towards life and I am convinced every circumstance is just that, a circumstance. Whether it becomes positive or negative depends on our attitude, what we make of things: something what feels like a triumph might not be so good in the long run if we don’t grow from it; on the other hand, what looks like failure may bring the gift of lifelong lessons if we are open to learn from it.
I believe that any situation can be taken advantage of if we have the right attitude, and, in some cases take some distance and perspective. Looking back at 2017, I am grateful I didn’t get the award. Sometimes the timing just isn’t right, and with the perspective that time gives, I realized that I needed to stay in my home country that year to stir myself into the right direction. Starting 2017, I was in the middle of some professional changes, leaving behind a job that didn’t resonate with me and heading (jobwise) towards the unknown, I took the time to explore, get out there, meet people and search for experiences that helped me discover exactly where I wanted to be. I also deepened my knowledge on my chosen universities and courses, spoke to former students that even made me change one of my options. In many ways I consider myself much more prepared for my next step, have a more powerful network (something key for when I return to my country and start looking for a meaningful job, etc) and have gained more insight about myself, about my country and about the realities I wish to transform. I also got the chance to enjoy my country’s beauty (don’t envy my southern summer, and my country’s stunning beaches), spend time with family and friends, represent my country in a congress and finally find a job I’m proud of—one which resonates with where I want to go professionally and that I’m actually paid for (something that might sound obvious, but isn’t). Of course 2017 also had its moments of sadness, confusion and uncertainty, but life is life…it is never black or white but complexly multicolored…but overall I value 2017 as an extremely positive year, and even though applying to Chevening and failing (?) might seem like a low point in my year (I know many of you asking about statuses 24/7 might look at it that way), I genuinely appreciate having applied for it made me question where I want to go in life and grow in so many ways.
Now 2018 has begun, another year full of uncertainty, but as my friend Bowie wisely said, I promise it won’t be boring ⚡️, whatever it brings. There are so many things I want to do, some abroad and some in my country. Until I get my scholarship result, a lot of things are question marks. But isn’t life always a little bit uncertain? That’s part of its charm. Wherever I am I am sure I will bloom. Yes, every road has its sacrifices…I might have to postpone some things I want to do in my country that require me to commit for some years, or leave my dream of studying in the UK on standby, but whatever happens I am determined to make the best of my circumstances and find things that make my soul burn. They can be found anywhere.
To all those applying, I wish you all the good vibes in the world. Never forget that life is a journey, that no outcome is final or fatal, and that there are amazing things waiting for you wherever you go…as long as you are willing to look for them.
*Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not reflect that of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), its partner organizations or any scholarship awarding institution.