The Importance of Support Networks

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about support networks - how vital is it to have someone in your corner to share the highs and lows with, even if you don’t always see the necessity straight away.

Last week, I attended my graduation. I got to stand with the rest of my cohort and celebrate everyone getting their degrees. It was a lovely day. But it wasn’t necessarily all about the degree or wearing the fancy gown (although these were pretty cool!) but it was acknowledging the hard work we put into getting here, and the support we showed one another through the tougher times of achieving our success. Because there were tough times.

I remember writing my final dissertation piece and it was on a topic incredibly close to my heart. Looking back, perhaps it was a little too soon for me to be writing about it, but at the time, it was very therapeutic for me. I wasn’t entirely happy with my end result because of the topic and felt resentment towards it as I discovered more about my situation. However, what helped were my friends reading my work and offering their opinions and feedback – pointing out the benefits, the good parts, and listening to what I didn’t like.

If I had kept all the negative thoughts in my head, they would have built up, and I would have continued to feel resentment and a disliking of my work in progress. What changed was having my support network guide me. I leaned on them as they did to me too, and we got each other through it. And, I’m pleased to say, my feelings towards my work became more positive.

Very rarely does success come without trials; perhaps you’ve had to re-draft an essay four times already and it still might not be how you envisioned it. Maybe you didn’t get the part in the play, or recital, or maybe you didn’t hear back about the job. And as upsetting as these are, they’re also avenues for you to look elsewhere at other opportunities, too. It can be sad and worrying, but eventually, it could lead to something even greater. Through it all, it’s nice to have someone there to talk to about those feelings – the highs and lows – and to help you pick yourself up.

As I looked around at my cohort on graduation day, I thought about that. I looked at the people I spent the year laughing with, crying with, talking about assignments, classes, quiz nights, and cinema trips… the people who offered me a distraction from the stresses, in the same ways I did for them. We formed friendships because we understood one another – we showed compassion and empathy, felt proud of one another, wanting to see people succeed. I learned the importance of letting people in and letting them help. Because the reality is, there are people who care, and can see situations from a different perspective that you can’t yet. And it’s the different perspectives we need to help us see the bigger picture beyond our current situations.


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