Multi Story Edinburgh

Emer - Class of 2020 - Finding your headspace, taking time to think and conversations with friends.

November 19, 2020 The University of Edinburgh Season 1 Episode 9
Multi Story Edinburgh
Emer - Class of 2020 - Finding your headspace, taking time to think and conversations with friends.
Show Notes Transcript

Each episode is a snapshop, a moment, a sneak inside the minds of our graduates. Season one talks to our 2020 graduates about how things are going, or not going, for them.  In episode nine we meet history graduate Emer.

Each month we meet five more graduates. Subscribe now and find out what everyone is up to and how they feel about this weird and unpredictable time.

All opinions expressed are those of the individual and do not necessarily reflect those of the University of Edinburgh. 

Multi Story Edinburgh has been created and produced by the Alumni Relations team at the University of Edinburgh. If you are interested in telling your story, please get in touch and let's talk.

Music: Since When by Mise Darling. 

Sonia Mullineux (Host)  0:04  
This is a snapshot, a moment, a sneak inside the minds of our graduates. This is season One, Class of 2020.

Emer O’Reilly  0:15  
My name is Emer, and I studied history. I did do joint honours in my first year, but then dropped it. But you know.

Emer O’Reilly  0:23  
Because I feel like after the past couple of months, they've probably, in a way been quite a low point, I think for everybody, including myself, but weirdly, now, and kind of I think since September, I felt strangely good. I think it's just my headspace. My perspective, I think, was really doom and gloom at the beginning hours. Now I'm kind of, I've had that time to process the reality of our situation and kind of try and figure out a way to make me happy kind of on the day to day, which I think is really, you know, done some some good in terms of my own kind of perspective and feelings, on everything at the minute. 

Emer O’Reilly  1:00  
I had planned to move to London for a job, then COVID happened that fell through. And because I'd, I'd thought that I had that job in London, I moved back home for a couple of months. And because I was like, I'm not going to be in Edinburgh, and it's just gonna be wasting money and rent and things like that. But I felt so separated from the life that I'd built. And then from the plans not to happen, I was then kind of stuck at home, like, oh, my God, I don't know what to do, and I haven't got any prospects, and it's just a mess. And then basically, it comes September, I decided to move back to Edinburgh, and just find my headspace again, without me feeling kind of just overwhelmed. You know, it's just made such a difference, I think, for me just on a personal level, and also kind of distinguishing between what I saw in terms of my academic and career progression, and my own personal development and happiness. Because I think I often put the two together. And I was like, if I don't succeed in my career, or in my academia, constantly, and I'm not progressing constantly, then it's a reflection of my own happiness. Whereas I kind of I think I found over the past couple months to kind of separate that and say actually, there are other things that I can focus on that are equally as important to my own, just kind of mental health and my own well being. 

Emer O’Reilly  2:17  
With COVID, you can't predict. And I think that was something again, had an issue with not being able to plan constantly, and then when it fell through, not knowing where to go from there. And I'm kind of I think, I find now I've got to that point where I'm kind of happy with just seeing how things go. 

Emer O’Reilly  2:37  
Obviously, first came here it was, you know, the first time moving away from home. I didn't really know what was going on, I think, you know, again, first year, and experiences at uni are very different, I think, in reality, from what you're kind of told. It definitely feels a lot more like home in a way. I had prepared myself for like moving out to London, I was really excited about it. But also, I kind of knew deep down, if there was ever a chance I could move back to Edinburgh, maybe then I would, I'd jump at it. So then I was like, Well, I'm not really doing anything, so I may as well just take that opportunity and where I can and you know I might not be. It's not even necessarily that my life on hold at the minute, I think it's just, you know, I needed to be somewhere that made me feel more productive, and Edinburgh like probably did that for me. 

Emer O’Reilly  3:26  
So I think the past couple of weeks, I've done a lot of cover letters, a lot of just kind of scrolling job forums, career hub, all that sort of stuff. I think leaving uni again, I didn't have a massive idea of what I wanted to do. And the job that I had lined up was for like teacher training. When I heard that I wasn't going to be doing it this year, it kind of sent me into a well, is this what I want to do. And, you know, maybe I'm making the wrong decision. And it's a two year commitment. So yeah, I think in a way, it was extremely stressful and kind of triggered this strange existential crisis. It has given me a bit of time to kind of level off and say, well, okay, this is definitely an option for me, and I can, I can do this, or I can, you know, have a little look around and see if I want to look at certain Masters courses, or if there's, you know, other jobs that I hadn't thought about when I was rushing around in my final year trying to find a job. Now that kind of the worst case scenario, in my own head, had happened and kind of like, well actually, in a way, the positive I can take from that is that I have the freedom to have that time and that patience, and that, you know, we're not in a rush anywhere and you know, normal is going to take so many different forms. So you have that kind of breathing space to say you know what, I can take some time here to, to think things through. 

Emer O’Reilly  4:40  
I did have a part time job. So I work for the student union. And so usually I'd be going there but obviously with added lockdown measures that is no longer as possible. And so I've kind of tried to fill some of my day at least with something kind of reasonably productive, because I do think there's a lot of pressure on people to be productive all the time. And I think that's just not sustainable. That's not feasible, especially in these circumstances. Erm, so I think a lot of my day has just been me giving myself that break to be like, no, you know, you can even watch some TV. 

Emer O’Reilly  5:21  
I think that pressure is, in a way, quite good, because it keeps you on your toes, but it can't get to the point where it's making your life an absolute misery. And it's do you know, I think it's a really weird balance, and I think I've, no one's mastered it. But I think like, the past couple of months have definitely given me that push to be like, you need to stop putting so much pressure on yourself to succeed at every single thing or moment in time, because it's just, it's impossible. And, I think after everything that had happened, there was part of me that kind of started blaming myself in a way cuz I was like, well, I could have done this, or I should have maybe had a backup job, or you know, all this. And, again, you just dig yourself into a hole where, you know, some things don't work out the way you want them to. But also, that doesn't actually mean it's a failure, or the worst thing ever, because then, you know, new opportunities can come out of that. And so yeah, that's what I'm trying to, to keep thinking about anyway. 

Emer O’Reilly  6:23  
I feel like I've come across as kind of ultra, like positive or optimistic about things. And I think, again, that is, in a way, something you do have to put on, I think, you know, people try really hard to be happy. It's not just something that kind of seamlessly falls into place, at least not for myself. Erm, and so again, it's just realising that, when things don't go, right, you know, it's fine, to be just stressed and kind of have a coping mechanism, because I think we've kind of emerged from this culture where everything has a solution and everything kind of, there's responsibility on yourself to make sure that like you're okay. And actually, you know, again, with the pandemic, social distancing makes that human connection so much more difficult, but just being able to reach out and realise that, you know, the bad days are okay.

Sonia Mullineux (Host)  7:18  
We also ask our graduates to share a place. Somewhere special, somewhere we can get together when all this has finished.

Emer O’Reilly  7:28  
Specifically related to kind of COVID. And it's a bit of a random one, because basically, two weeks before, I think, lockdown fully came into place, or I think maybe a bit before that. Me and my friends decided to take a trip to to a place called Rathmullan, just like in Donegal. And we were, you know, just writing on our dissertations, and chatting about things. And we just had, it was just such a wholesome time. And basically, there was one moment where, again, the weather was terrible, it was like rain and storm and, but then we there was like one morning where we took a walk down along the beach, and kind of climbed over these rocks when the rain had kind of subsided. And again, we were just talking about our futures. And, you know, where we saw ourselves where we didn't see ourselves and kind of it was a mixture of us because, I mean, kind of ironic, because I was the only one that knew I was going to do. And then that kind of flip sided, where it's one of my other friends, she's kind of figured out what she wants to do in the midst of this, so it's possible. And again, we were just kind of talking about things and the fears and the excitement and all that sort of stuff and, and it was just so picturesque because we were looking across like the loch and like a rainbow had formed and, and I think it was just a really nice kind of wholesome moment before all this kind of happened. And, and I was in a very different place and mindset. And, I dunno, I feel like you know, it was just, it was quite a special moment. So I think I would like everyone to kind of have experienced that moment because it was just yeah, it was really nice.

Sonia Mullineux (Host)  9:11  
Thank you for listening. Join us next time for another graduate and another story.

Kirsten Roche  9:25  
You're not on your own when it comes to planning for your future. Your University of Edinburgh community is here to support you. And this includes ongoing support for recent graduates from the Career Service. Why not take a look at our website to find out more about how we can support you get the future that you want. Go to to get started.

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