Sonia Said: Maybe it's not worth it

By Sonia Hadj Said

I thought it, again and again, staring at that scale. It barely moved from the month before. Damn, why did I binge on those weekends? Why didn't I workout more? But what kind of life is it, thinking about restrictions 24/7 while serving food every evening of the week, wanting to stuff your face with a bit of everything? "Maybe it's not worth it" is the perfect life excuse for literally every single thing you want to do but are too lazy because it's hard. Maybe it's not worth it, but maybe if I keep on going like this I'll get to the point where I can't look at myself anymore. So I get off the scale and find old photos. There I am, without that 15 kg baggage and wonder in amazement, how did I get here in only a year?

It was a last-minute decision. Postgraduate loans are finally introduced, my friend, Patrycja, told me. I cringed. What about my vow. The one about never, ever going back to school, it was useless, it was a waste of money and time. "Look, do whatever you want," she snapped at me. It was a good snap, very necessary. Because deep down I knew something had to be done. I wasn't sure what, but I was sure of one thing: 25 years old, one failed book and a bartender. There must be more. I quickly enrolled in MA International Journalism and thought, maybe this is it. Maybe it will be worth it.

I spent the next year testing not only my comfort zone but also physical and mental health every single day. When you think about mixing school and work, it doesn't sound that hard. So many of us do it, bah, it makes us better people. But this was one hell of a ride. I entered a completely new world that until recently, has been closed to people who didn't have £10,000 or more to spare. It opened my eyes to the fact that I wasn't as privileged as I used to think I was. Sometimes I couldn't go to work because we had to make a TV package of an event that was happening during the evening or write a story on Brits that also, happened in the evening. When I mentioned "work", teachers gasped, "we told you, no work during the term." They lived in their own bubble where adult postgraduate students didn't have to work. I became a little angry and frustrated, but most of all, I was absolutely, completely, wholly drained.

Then it started. I stopped torturing myself on fucking salads. I had to eat properly. After all day at school, I would get in to work and jump on food. It made me feel better. It was just that comfort feeling I was after, but nothing made me feel more relaxed and energised. I stopped working out and I stopped feeling bad about it. I was out the door at 9 am and back usually around 11 pm. There was not much time for thinking unless it was the end of term and we could all breathe. That's when I would get sick. Diarrhoea, a full body rash, my body's way of saying "I got you through it, you're welcome, but now the consequences." After it got even more intense and weekends weren't enough to catch up on deadlines, I added some armodafinil and I swear I thought I discovered God.


"I don't need an office job just so that my mum can relax and stop worrying that I'll get kicked out of the UK"


I learned so much more than journalistic storytelling and how print magazines come to life. I learned how much we're really capable of as long as we believe it will be worth it, that it's about the bigger picture. It's scary how this stuff helps because even though the classes finished in June and I don't have that "good" job, I'm getting more interviews than ever in my life. These are mostly jobs I don't want, but this time I'm trying not to give in to pressure. I don't need an office job just so that my mum can relax and stop worrying that I'll get kicked out of the UK. So what was all that for, right? Just to gain 15kg, get mildly addicted to prescription drugs and start noticing a completely different world out there, where people don't have to worry about work and money? I mean, was it worth it?

Funny thing, I actually have no bloody idea. I don't know if I would do it again and I'm not sure if it will end up changing my life. But maybe it's still better to do it all, make sure you're trying to live your passion, you work hard to create something instead of just watching La La Land, thinking, what if I did this, what if I tried that, but now I'm going to go home, eat my takeaway and think about that time ten years ago when I said yes to the job I didn't want and no to that scary, but possibly life-changing experience?

I mean, is it all worth it?