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  • Writer's pictureJames Frater


It’s been a while since I have written one of these, so I think this is a nice way to ease myself back in. I write a lot of these posts simply because I want to get my thoughts onto paper, but y’all seem to be taking something from them so that makes me happy.

It has been a very interesting year so far with many ups and downs, laughs and cries, celebrations and commiserations. It started on a difficult note. In January, I sat my end of year exams and also had to process the passing of my closest friend’s father. In hindsight, this took a great toll on me as he was someone I was really fond of and shared some great memories with.

It was a hazy position to be in - mourning a death whilst trying to comfort/be present for a friend who lost someone more significant to them. It’s a position I have, unfortunately, found myself in before. From this, I learnt that there is no one way to deal with it. There is no manual or guide book that tells you how to best prepare for these situations. I found, however, that bonds become stronger and relationships deepen during these periods.

What did I learn? Listen up, this is actually gold.

When you are trying to support anyone in your life, try not to impose yourself on them. It is easy for us to decide what we think other people need without taking the time to ask or to think about what is actually best for them in that situation. A mentor said to me “don’t ever offer a solution in the moment. Be present and try to understand how they are feeling, but initially, don’t try to be the superhero”. When the people in your life feel like you are being present, they will naturally ask for advice and then you can be the superhero.

Since the turn of the year, I’ve also been fortunate enough to have quite a few speaking opportunities. Everything from primary school assemblies to formal dinners at The Royal Society. I have always enjoyed speaking in front of an audience, even though I spend most of the time waffling (Toni said this is a skill so I'm sticking with it). I find that I still get nervous, which I would argue is actually a good thing because I have gotten better at being prepared. *this is the important bit so take notes* My experience has taught me that the best speakers are able to tell you a story and take you on a journey, whilst leaving you with key and clear take aways along the way.

Furthermore, I have been able to do some really cool things with students (when I should have been doing my degree):

1. I have been working with 10 boys over the course of this academic year, teaching them different skills and helping them to navigate the education system as young men. The final part of this programme will be a trip to Go Ape as a well done for their hard work.

2. At King’s, we were able to put on a dope conference for over 130 year 12 African & Caribbean students where they were able to learn information about university + they were taught vital skills for life after school.

3. Created the Ladder Project with my co-founder. It’s for students in year 9/10 who are not sure what they want to do in their lives. We teach them skills, get them to self-reflect and get to a place where they can make informed goals about their future.

Exam season was the most testing period of my life this year. Every day for about 3 weeks everything revolved around preparation for this. Even when I was sleeping, I could never fully sleep because in my subconscious I was thinking about all the prep I needed to do and all the prep I was not even aware I needed to do. Towards the end, I realised that the people you prepare for an exam with dramatically affect the way you feel about yourself, your knowledge and your likelihood of doing well. Shout out to Barbara and Michelle for helping me get through it. Shoutout to Mikai, Leon and my aunt for letting me practice on them lol.

Most importantly, I have really been trying to work on my relationship with God over the last few months. I kept on waking up feel super grateful and blessed by all the things that I had in my life. I realised that I was happy to call on God when I needed help, but when things were going well I would absorb all the praise without reminding myself and others that nothing is possible without Jesus Christ. I now start my day with gospel of mornings (well, 97% of the time) because I have found that praise and worship really starts the day right for me.

So what is next?

There will be much more of a focus on my personal goals because I have only really been hitting goals in the visible areas of my life. I am sure a lot of people can relate to this one. *remember that gym goal you made in January?* I also plan to get some rest this summer but I will be working really hard on some career/business goals before I start at Imperial next academic year.

I will be more consistent with the blog posts too. Forgive me. God bless. Gaza Forever.

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