What’s the worst that could happen?

Laura in her graduation gown

I’ve always believed that I am an extremely lucky person. In September 2012 I was 22 years old and I had my life pretty much set: I bought a house with Jon, I had just finished my Masters degree at uni with the highest grade and the following week I was set to start my full-time job that would eventually lead to my dream job. Sounds excellent, doesn’t it?

Six months of working passed and then I woke up one day feeling like a completely different person. I was utterly miserable and had a deep feeling that I was missing the point and that life was passing me by. I spoke to some friends about this and what it boiled down to was that I had a mortgage to pay and so I should shut up and get on with it. Several people actually told me that a ‘career’ is a myth and that working is simply a means to get the money in order to live your life outside of work. So you work to ‘live’? I have a real problem with that concept.

So I quit my job and the next day I got a flight to Portugal and spent two months helping them renovate their home. Yes I was dodging the ‘problem’ but those months made me realise what is important. Family and actually living my live. So with the money I got from working, I’ve booked a 3-week trip to South Africa and as soon as I’m back I’m going to Portugal for a month as there’s still plenty to do out there. But the last couple of weeks have really brought home to me how important it is to cherish time you spend with your family.


My parents both came back from Portugal temporarily for a couple of things, such as my cousin’s wedding and my Masters graduation at Canterbury Cathedral. Whilst here, my mum went into hospital for a serious operation and my Dad had a heart attack. They’re both okay but it was an absolute shock to everybody, most of all them. Everything had been going swimmingly well for the past few years and then suddenly health and the facts of life caught up. Life is currently on the back burner; my parents had planned a 2-week trip to South Korea and then they would return to Portugal for the rest of the year.

My Dad was taken into hospital a day before my graduation. He was stable and they both insisted that I still go along, so I did. I felt incredibly removed from the whole ceremony as all I could think about was how Dad was doing. I stuck around for a couple of smily photos and then left. But as we were receiving our certificates the chancellor was going on about how we’d fall into a job as we were so well qualified, which was so far from the truth for so many of my classmates. But as I was sitting there I was thinking to myself that “I don’t want to fall into ‘any’ job, I want to do my own thing and make my own way and live my own life.”

Okay so you might be thinking ‘what the heck is the point of this article?’. What I’m trying to say is that it’s important to know what your priorities are and it shouldn’t take an awful thing happening before you realise that family (and for others, friends) are number one and you should cherish the time you spend with them. I’ve got ‘big crazy plans’ that will eventually let me do that whilst earning an income, but one thing that my two degrees has taught me is that you should keep your ambitions to yourself until you achieve them, so we’ll save that for another time.

Tags: africa, dad, graduation

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