Multi Story Edinburgh

Alex - Class of 2020 - Prioritising mental health, comfort zones and tentatively planning.

April 13, 2021 The University of Edinburgh Season 1 Episode 29
Multi Story Edinburgh
Alex - Class of 2020 - Prioritising mental health, comfort zones and tentatively planning.
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 twenty nine we meet Social Anthropology graduate Alex.

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) 0:07

This is a snapshot, a moment, a sneak inside the minds of our graduates. This is season one: Class of 2020.

Alex 0:17

Hello, I'm Alex Ferry. I'm from Newcastle-- just north of Newcastle and I just graduated last year from the University of Edinburgh, doing Social Anthropology. Right now, I am currently unemployed after a spell of five months of employment, working in kind of IT and customer services. A job that definitely wasn't for me and when I realised it wasn't for me long term, and it was quite a stressful job, I decided like, what's the point doing it short term? I guess, a part of me has always known that it wasn't going to be long term past sort of May/June. So me being me, I kind of like had basically like a spreadsheet and I was like, I'm going to be making £1300 every month, this, that, the other, and I did end up saying goodbye to over two grand by leaving early. But, to put it simply, the reason I left was because I did have a bit of a nervous breakdown in doing the job and to put it this way, I was the ninth person out of a team of 15 to leave within two months.  It was a stressful, stressful job where you're judged on your handling time, you're-- you've got to do sales leads, even though you're customer service trying to fix people's problems who have waited in a queue for about an hour and I'm telling you, they don't want to be sold anything. With lockdown and everything adding to it, not worth it. I'm in an alright place for money, I'm in quite a privileged position, back living with my parents for right now, so I don't have all of these bills coming out, so. Out of the six people who are still working there, I'm still in contact with a few of them and some of them, they need the job until they find something else, they need it. So they can't even really acknowledge the mental health side because the kind of paying the bills and feeding the kids aspect comes before their mental health. Whereas for me, just out of university, still kind of not sure where I want to be in the world, this and that. I was allowed to put myself first which ideally, everybody should be able to do. But unfortunately in the world we're living in, it's not the real life scenario of everybody. 

Alex 2:36

To give a bit of background, in the first two years of university I was doing anthropology and sociology together and then I dropped it going into third year, just anthropology. I wasn't particularly engaged with it in first and second year. I mean, I don't come from like a particularly sort of academic background, I had no idea how to write essays and this and that. And I think that was part of it, like I—I did think there was maybe a bit of imposter syndrome going into it. Like, I didn't really feel like I was able to do all of that. But come third year/fourth year, I started really getting into it, learned how to write essays in an academic way. And from that point on, it's always been a kind of steady line where I've just thought that anthropology and my degree is more and more useful in the way that I think and just in how I kind of analyse life. I am quite a confident person in my sort of day to day life. Whereas when I went into sort of university, kind of outside of my comfort zone, and with people who talked like they kind of you know, they knew how to talk, they knew how to talk academically, whether what they were saying was correct or not. I didn't-- I couldn't look past the long words they were using. But I think it was kind of looking more at myself, and engage in literally just to the best of my ability. And then once I did that, I was like, okay, I am here because I'm good enough, I do-- have always had the ideas, it's just getting them across that was the struggle. In school and stuff, I was always one of the kind of academically brighter ones who didn't have that knocking confidence early. So when I did come with that I was like, well, this is new, how do I deal with this? But then once you do deal with that, it does make things easier, I suppose.

Alex 4:35

I think from my position, it's really easy to make the imposter syndrome a class thing, which I think probably really simplifies it much more than it should be. I did my whole dissertation on class in the UK music industry, so I was having all these conversations about class. And when you're talking to like minded working class people, then people do all have the same sorts of opinions. But again, I think it is a bit of an oversimplification to just put it all down to class and have this dichotomy between working class and middle class and which perhaps isn't particularly useful. I've never been a person who's had like a job that they're working towards and that's the sort of goal, which today is quite good, because what's happening, you know, nobody knows what's happening. So I just-- I have decided that, like, I'm only planning the next couple years, basically. And then after that, you know, I'll change during that time, if something crops up, I'm like, I want to do that, that's great. And I'm not really putting the pressure on myself of being like, okay, you need to be here in five years, you need to be here, you need to be there. 

Alex 5:43

So I do have a plan for the next couple years or potential plan, but as I say, that plan is really subject to change and I'm very happy for it to change. In terms of that plan, that will be Camp America in summer, then have September to December, kind of off, me and a couple of my friends from home have been potentially planning on travelling around Spain, everything dependent obviously. January through to May, I'd like to go and do-- it's, it's kind of like an internship in Vietnam, teaching English with TEFL. That is still something I want to do. I think living in Vietnam for five months, six months, whatever would be amazing. After that, I'm considering going to do a Master's somewhere after that, like, in a couple years, though, it would probably be a research Master's just because I loved doing my dissertation so much. But I would only do that if I had an idea going into it like, okay, I want to go do this research. For me, especially if I'm going to do it in a couple of years down the line, I would only really want to do it if I knew what I wanted to get out of it. I think probably until fourth year, there was-- even in third year when I started quite enjoying university, started getting quite a lot out of it, there was—I had it in my mind, never doing a Masters not for me after this, I'm away. Fourth year, there was a sort of thing like, probably not going to do it, but everything's going on maybe I could. On like, on the last day of when you could apply to do masters at the University of Edinburgh, I was like, oh, I might just put a cheeky little application in there. Didn't do it. It was the right decision not to do it, to be honest. But yeah, I do, I guess it is the thing, where now I would have the confidence that I would get something out of it that doesn't really depend just on the grade at the end of it.

Sonia Mullineux (host) 7:52

We also ask our graduates to share a place, somewhere special, somewhere we can get together when all this is finished.

Alex 8:01 

Despite all of this travel talk, my special place, I didn't find it easy to come up with this. But where I am in my life, I kind of wanted it to be somewhere that I feel safe first and foremost, but then also free and quite optimistic. I didn't want to choose somewhere I've only been once or twice, probably because of that sort of safe aspect to it, I wanted a place that I've got more of a kind of relationship with. So I chose a place that was kind of a constant in my life, at least in the last two or three years of uni. And that's just, it's more of an area than a place if I'm being honest. It's basically, it's on the top of the Links, like Bruntsfield Links that is kind of overlooking the meadows. You've got Arthur's Seat up to your right there and the castle in front of you. I'm pointing, nobody's going to be able to see that. So the street that runs through it, I'll have to look this up is called Leamington Walk and it's just a place that kind of first and foremost reminds me of summer, light evenings and of people, lots of different people not just because they're like random people, strangers surrounding you. But because it's a place that I've shared with a lot of people kind of close friends, acquaintances, friends of friends, just people. But there isn't really a time stamp on it in my mind, as I say it was quite a constant in my life. So while I would have spent most times like sitting down there, when the weather was good, it was always there somewhere like I pass through literally every day for a year because I lived about 20 metres away from it in Marchmont. And it kind of just reminds me of the simplicity and the good part of the kind of simplicity of everyday life. But yeah, and also just nature and walking through it. Something that I realised I lived in a different kind of flat every year in Edinburgh, and the times that I lived in places where I would cross the meadows everyday on my way to uni, I was in a much better place mental health wise, rather than just walking kind of through these industrial streets, quite gloomy streets. Walking through the meadows everyday is something that in fourth year when I went back to walking through there, I really appreciated because it did have such a positive effect. It's also a bit less crowded than the actual meadows.

Sonia Mullineux (host) 10:30

Thank you for listening. Join us next time for another graduate and another story.

Kirsten Roche 10:41

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 graduates from the Careers Service. Why not take a look at our website to find out more about how we can support you get the future you want. Go to to get started.

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