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100% ownership and my inner rhino

Anouska cropped Ivy House

Who takes responsibility for your life? You? Your parents? Your grades?

Is there something out of your control that’s holding you back from reaching your full potential? Session four of the Ivy House Award encourages us to take full ownership of our own lives, because we are the ones in the driving seat. It’s up to us and only us to make our lives what we want them to be.

Taking ownership for our lives is particularly important during sixth-form. It’s a time when the future seems to be rushing towards us at quite a pace. We begin to look beyond our A Levels, to potential jobs or university degrees. Unfortunately, no one else is going to create our perfect life and hand it to us on a plate, we have to get there ourselves. What this means is we must stop procrastinating, patiently waiting for the perfect work experience, or business opportunity to fall into our lap, and go out there and get it for ourselves, otherwise we could be waiting forever.

Soon after I’d done The Ivy House Award, I was applying for what’s called ‘pupillage’; the barrister equivalent of a training contract for solicitors. I stumbled across an advertisement for a drinks evening that one of the top London Chambers (firms) was holding to socialise with those who were applying for pupillage. I emailed to book a place and was told it was full. Great. I asked to be told if a place became available, just in case. On the morning of the drinks evening, I was at university in Cardiff in the middle of a lecture, when I got an email that a place had become available. I was swamped with work, completely snowed under and I had a friends’ twenty-first birthday party that evening. Plus, I’d have to rush to get all the way home to pick up a suit before going back into London for the event. You see my dilemma. After a brief battle, I decided to go. I hurriedly packed my things and hopped on a train home. Now, rather than getting me a job, which this endeavour unfortunately didn’t do, the result was a little more unexpected. Whilst at the drinks evening, I bumped into a friend who I’d met doing work experience a few months earlier. He told me about this new course that was being set up for training barristers. It was being set up by an incredibly prestigious institution, one which I had no idea was establishing a new course, and one which I certainly wouldn’t have heard about had I not gone to that event. As a result of that conversation, I applied for the course, went through a rather rigorous interview process, and was successfully accepted into the small cohort.

The battle with ownership occurred the minute I received the email about the free place. I wanted to go to my friends’ birthday but also, I’d be exhausted and wouldn’t be as productive with my work if I had to go all the way to London and back in 24 hours. I considered what I could gain out of going. It could give me the information I needed to increase my chances of getting pupillage. I would meet people who did the job I wanted to do, which was going to be inevitably thought-provoking and an enjoyable experience. And then there was the unexpected. In a room full of the best of the best barristers, who knew what I could gain out of it? There was only one right answer.

What if I hadn’t gone? I wouldn’t have gained the wealth of knowledge about the realities of the profession, I wouldn’t have met and networked with barristers at the height of their careers, and I wouldn’t be getting post graduate diploma next year. Ultimately, I might not have achieved anything from going to the drinks evening, but I didn’t know that when I made my decision. I couldn’t have decided not to go based on the fact that I might not gain something. There was far greater chance I would gain something.

The point is that if I hadn’t taken ownership for my future in that moment, things would be very different. I committed to taking 100% ownership for my life when I did the Ivy House Award, and had I not done that, I wouldn’t have gone to the drinks evening. One thing is certain, my life will move significantly more in the ‘right’ direction for as long as I continue to take ownership for my future and make decisions that reflect this.

The Ivy House Award gives us the push we need to take ownership for our lives. We know we should take ownership, but knowing is very different to doing.

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