Lady Pat. R. Honising – Finding Your Place

"Oh honey, your dilemma has brought a tear to your dear Auntie’s eye, let me take you under my wing and we’ll get through this together."

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The training group at Gibside stables

Dear Agony Aunt,

I’m coming up to the end of my second year now, and it’s becoming ever more obvious that I haven’t quite found my place in Oxford in the same way that all of my friends seem to have done. I’ve tried activity after activity, but none of them have really been my thing, and with finals on the horizon I feel like the possibility of finding something character defining in Oxford is fading away. So please help me Agony Aunt, what should I do in these times of need?

All the best,
Nicheless Nobody.

My dearest Anon,

Oh honey, your dilemma has brought a tear to your dear Auntie’s eye, let me take you under my wing and we’ll get through this together. In an age where personal branding is key, feeling as if you haven’t quite found your niche yet is a very common crisis. Especially in Oxford where people ask “so what do you do!” before even asking your name, feeling as if the only answer to this is: “my degree and also sometimes a Bridge Thursday” can be tough, but you have nothing to be ashamed of. I’m no careers service, hell, I’m not even up to the standard of that one “Tell us your breakfast preferences and we’ll give you a new hobby” Buzzfeed quiz you took at 3am, but I can give it a bloody good go. 

Times like these, when we find ourselves directionless and craving stability (much like during my first three divorces), it is important to look into ourselves and figure out what it is that we really want out of this situation. Look at feeling like this as a blessing – you have been granted the gift of reflection and an opportunity to act on it, so let’s seize the day and get down to it (I’ve taken two Mindfulness classes honey, I know what I’m talking about.) It seems very obvious, but you first need to ask yourself what you really want to do, and why you want to do it. Although the pressure of sounding vaguely impressive to your (probably much more impressive) peers seems to in itself validate craving this sense of purpose, this is not and should not be a reason in itself to feel like your life is lacking in the extra-curricular department. If you’re going to do something, do it for yourself and not for the social clout. Recent studies have shown that at least a good chunk of student ‘politicians’ have only ended up there for a conversation filler, don’t let yourself be just another statistic, baby. 

If you’ve done some of that sweet, sweet introspection and feel like you want to find your thing for yourself and yourself only, then it’s time to get brainstorming. You mentioned that you’d already tried to put yourself out there but to no avail – maybe a good start is looking at why these things haven’t worked out for you. If it’s sports you’ve tried, maybe it’s time to admit to yourself that a gold medal in the egg and spoon race at your Year five sports day is perhaps not conducive to a blue. Maybe try diverting your attention to something that’ll bring out your already existing qualities rather than seeking something that is totally out of your comfort zone. 

*Love pissing off your flat mates by putting on a one-man musical on the daily? Student Drama!*

*Get a kick from making strangers feel vaguely uncomfy but generally amused by oversharing your childhood traumas? Student Comedy!*

*Love to overshare and want a vessel for it other than your finsta but lack the stage presence and endearing awkward charm to be a student comedian? Cherwell Agony Aunt!*

Self-awareness is key – capitalise on what makes you you, as there really is a place and a role for absolutely everyone. It’s all you from here on in, keep soul searching and remember that whatever you do, it will probably mean absolutely nothing to anyone/everyone five years down the line! 

Love and luck,

Lady P. xoxoxo

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