Disclaimer: This is probably the most real I’ve ever gotten in these posts
(Don’t make the same mistake I did, please)
A trip down memory lane
Throughout my time at Imperial I have been documenting my time through these posts. In my current emotionally fragile state, dreading the idea of leaving the comfort that has become Imperial, I took a trip down memory lane reading over everything I seem to have been a part of at uni. From Netball, wellbeing, MathSoc and the RCSU, I have kept myself fairly busy, with my volunteer roles for the Union taking a forefront in my daily life.
Life is hard
Whilst my time at Imperial hasn’t been all sunshine and smiles, my blog posts largely seem to paint this picture. This is not because I’m trying to “sell” Imperial, but because the stuff I write about is the sanity that has gotten me through the rough times. (I’m not the kind of person to dwell on the bad stuff… or am I?) Like most people at Imperial, my time here has been tainted with periods of anxiety and low mood. A number of aspects can trigger this, from the heavy work loads and high academic standards to social pressures and the general stress of growing up.
But throughout all of the rough times, I have always felt that the work I have done in my Union roles, no matter how time consuming, have made me feel a lot better about myself. I have met some of my best friends through the Union. And what’s more, I find organising events fun, because it means that I’m helping 100s of other people have even more fun and enjoy themselves. The feeling of seeing people at an event who would otherwise be stuck in the study room stressed, all dressed up for a good time just genuinely makes me so happy.
Volunteering goes wrong
So what happens when volunteering goes wrong, and it starts to make you feel worse about yourself? This is a little bit of how I feel right now. I’m not sure when it started, but it all comes from my biggest regret.
A big part of volunteering is feeling like you’ve made a difference, a positive difference of course. Generally this has been something that has driven me, and encouraged me to do bigger and better things for the societies I work with. Recently I have felt a little limited within my roles, with a feeling for being able to do more. This is not to say that I don’t love the roles I have at the moment.
MathSoc is probably the biggest occupier of my time, brain and heart. I am lucky enough to work with an amazing committee and the sense of community and respect we get from our members is insane and makes it incredibly rewarding!
But within the RCSU, as the Sponsorship and Alumni Officer (and mascot bearer!), it has been quite a different story. Despite enjoying working with the RCSU, and going above and beyond my role, I have not always been welcomed with the warmth and cohesiveness synonymous with working with a well oiled committee. Despite getting a number of events together, my work doesn’t seem to be valued amongst my colleagues, leaving me feeling extremely deflated and questioning whether anyone actually appreciates my help.
The end of the journey
Combine this feeling with the fact that I have nearly reached the end of my time volunteering for Imperial College Union and you’re left with a very exhausted Aishy, who doesn’t really know what went wrong. I have no do-over year, no year to run for a bigger position and make a bigger difference next year. No time to do it right. Many of my union friends will be continuing their efforts next year, most moving up into bigger roles where they will have a bigger impact but unfortunately for me, my three years are up and it’s time to move on. (Yes, this is causing serious FOMO)
I am well aware that 10 years from now, when I will hopefully have a steady career and will have moved on, none of this will matter. But right now, for me anyway, it is making me feel pretty down and I wish it wasn’t.
My biggest regret is not running for a bigger union role in my final year at Imperial, i.e. a VP in the RCSU. Seems silly right? But it isn’t, for all of the reasons above. With a bigger role, I would’ve been able to benefit a larger number of people, not experience committee friction for doing work outside of my jurisdiction and would probably feel a lot better about myself.
Volunteering has been the biggest part of my time at Imperial, through all 5 of my union roles, I have met some of my closest friends, had an truly special time and helped make a difference and that is what I will remember when I leave Imperial.
Don’t make the same mistake I made. Get involved now and Stand for a Union position in the upcoming elections!