One thing I think humans are programmed to do is to be scared of change. Fear of the unknown, as we often put it. It’s not something that is particularly useful sometimes, because progress really does happen outside of your comfort zone.
In the past week there has been a lot of change in my life.
Tuesday 14th March – I got a job. I GOT A JOB. I got THE job!
After two weeks of waiting to hear back about the outcome of my assessment centre… still nothing. I emailed the recruitment team, only to find out that they had been trying to call me for a week and a half!? I’d got no calls. It was all very strange. And very stressful. They said they couldn’t disclose the outcome over email so they’d call me tomorrow. Twenty four agonising hours later and I’m pacing up and down the pavement outside the school where we’d just delivered a session on pursuing a legal career. We were running late and I didn’t expect to have to be around other people when receiving this news, but the girls were incredibly supportive (faith-in-humanity-restored kind of moment). We got in the taxi back to uni and I couldn’t focus. What if I didn’t get it? What if I did?
The phone rang and my heart stopped. Everyone shushed each other and I picked up the phone.
“Hi Scarlett, I’m pleased to inform you that you’ve secured a conditional offer”
How I want to tell you it went:
*Calm voice* “That’s great! Thank you so much! What are the next steps?”
What really happened:
Grad recruitment: “What?”
Grad recruitment: “What?”
Me: “Good ones!!!”
You get the picture.
I couldn’t believe it. Now all I have to worry about is passing a fitness test (which, funnily enough, I’m slightly more concerned about than actually getting a degree). To clarify, I was offered a job where I’ll be working to rehabilitate prisoners and change the prison system from the inside. I’ll be a prison officer for two years, undergoing leadership training and a masters in order to implement that theory into the work we do day-to-day. Then in my second year I’ll get to write a government policy paper. Crazy stuff.
For a while after the phone call I couldn’t contain myself. I phoned my family and people closest to me, absolutely bursting with joy. I saw Lucie from across campus and shouted “I GOT THE JOB!” She ran towards me and gave me the most overwhelmingly tight hug.
It was a sunny day. Not one of those immensely bright ones that screams ‘happy’, but one where the skies are a gentle blue, the clouds swish sparsely across the landscape, and everything is light – it exudes contentment. And that’s the feeling I settled on. Being content. All the hard work had paid off.
I then rushed off to watch Lucie host the second ever Law Review launch event. It had been a year since I was in her place and she sat next to me at the front as the Events Coordinator. How far we had both come. In just one year my life had changed so much, and this day epitomised that.
Thursday 16th March – And the winner is…
A gaggle, consisting of Caitlin, Yukit, Lucie and myself, headed off to London for the Law Society of the Year Awards hosted by LawCareers.Net.
Everything was going smoothly and I got totally lost in the awe of the day, so in my trackies and Chairperson hoodie, with my hand-luggage gliding along the floor behind me, I sang my way through St Pancras station as the team laughed behind me.
We got all dressed up and headed out. Disaster struck as I could barely walk in my heels after so little practice lately. Then we discovered we had walked 30 minutes in the wrong direction (thanks Yukit) and were going to be late. Oops!
After finally arriving, we were greeted with so many professionals eager to chat to us and learn about what we do. It was such a lovely community atmosphere – everyone celebrating each other. Well, it was lovely apart from the usual awkward experience of trying to stand and hold your drink and eat the nibbles without spilling anything and talk politely – hoping that they’ll keep chatting until you’ve finished this mouthful. Or we all know the inevitable awkward moment when you’ve got a mouth full of food and they’ve asked you a question, but all you can do is smile slightly whilst trying to chew as quickly as possible. Networking, huh?
After an eloquent speech kicking the night off from Beth, who organised the event, the unveiling of the awards commenced.
We were nominated for the first award of the night – Best Law Society at Student Engagement. When our names were called, we didn’t really know what to do! Disbelief is what ensued. And then a tonne of gratitude.
Hearing about what all of the other law societies do filled me with an immense amount of pride. I learned so much about how we can improve our law society – and every award was so incredibly well-deserved. We found ourselves in a room full of some of the most committed students in the country, and the buzz inexplicable. I was overwhelmed with admiration.
We’d now become a nationally award-winning law society. The gravity of that just wouldn’t sink in.
Friday 17th March – The end
This Friday was the day I announced who the winners were of the Law Society elections. Who would take over from the current team. Who would carry on our legacy.
Writing out my last post, and last email, and signing it off felt surreal. I tried to remember the first time I’d got to write out ‘Scarlett Stock, Chairperson’, but I couldn’t. I guess throughout the year it felt so normal. And now this was the last time. Sorry not sorry to quote Grey’s Anatomy but “you never think the last time is the last time. You think there will be more. You think you have forever, but you don’t.”
I’m lucky in that sense. I got to have control over this being the last time. I knew it was coming. I got to feel the full force, the magnitude of the situation – I got to embrace it. That sort of helped.
It sounds ridiculous now I type all this out, but in light of my last blog post it’s the only thing there is to say – the truth. For the past three years Law Society has been the biggest thing in my life. Especially this year, too. It has been my baby. I’ve poured everything I have into it – my time, emotions, ideas. Everything. And having the next few months to handover will help, but it felt like such a sudden ending, especially since we were so active right til the very end.
As much of a change as it was – I wouldn’t have it any other way. Life is here so we can feel every miserable and glorious part of it. That’s the beauty, isn’t it?
And anyway, what’s the point if you don’t really care? The greatest things in life, as much as it can hurt when they’re gone, are the ones you care so much about.
And so my law society journey came to an end. What an adventure.
Wednesday 23rd March – The one with the last ever lecture
I ran into the George Porter building and plonked myself down, ready for my last ever lecture at university.
It didn’t feel any different. I typed out my notes on Inheritance Law and laughed quietly at Steve’s jokes.
But then it was over. It was done. That was it.
Thursday 24th March – Not quite me
Everything was amazing. I was on top of the world. I had a job. A job I wanted and was excited about. The Law Society, as a project, had come to full fruition with the awards and with our final events being successes. I handed over knowing there was an overwhelming amount of interest from people wanting to be part of the committee. The passion lived on.
But I felt nothing? I couldn’t be happy about it. It was strange. Even for me, it was too much to handle. Or that’s what I thought.
After a few days of being confused by the lack of excitement and overwhelming feeling of nothingness, Lucie made me sit down to chat about it.
Together we realised that the ‘problem’ was change. My whole life had changed. I had a job. University had finished. The Law Society had won the award. I was done with my job as Chairperson. The life I knew wasn’t mine anymore. The rug had been pulled from beneath my feet – and I wasn’t prepared.
Lucie reminded me that these things, as much as it seems this way, aren’t imminent. I’m not graduating until July, I’ve still got handover for Law Society, the awards are done, and my job doesn’t start until September.
I just had to take it one thing at a time.
It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed when there’s so much change in your life – whether that’s good or bad. You have your routine, and your systems, and your coping mechanisms, and suddenly if feels like none of that is applicable anymore. It really threw me off.
The most powerful thing through all of this, though, is knowing yourself. Being self-aware and knowing when something isn’t quite right. Then you can lean on your people, and pull yourself out of whatever weird place you’re in.
I was reminded, by someone very close to me, a month or so ago that graduating doesn’t have to mean everything is different. I’m seeing graduating as my whole life changing – as me changing. I’ve been so happy, so that sounds terrifying. But really, that’s up to me. Even in the face of inevitable change, what remains constant within myself is my choice. If I want the same people influencing me, I need to decide to prioritise them. It doesn’t matter about the environment because I get to choose how that affects me.
Embrace change; sit with it, recognise it, make peace with it. Deal with it. Don’t let it scare you – it’s inescapable. To quote my favourite author Matt Haig – “Remember that the key thing about life on earth is change. Cars rust. Paper yellows. Technology dates. Caterpillars become butterflies. Nights morph into days.”
Your life is what you make it – even if circumstances mean it’s been turned up-side-down. I just had to remember that I am the constant in all of this, and whether I change is up to me. This isn’t to say you should resist all change and stay the same forever, but if you like things about your life then make the decision to keep them, and welcome the rest of what life throws at you.
For now? I’m ready. And that’s the best you can do.