Thom | St Johns

“Just two years ago. I studied physics, and I started off, I did a PhD, and I kind of came into that as a kind of super over-confident, arrogant kind of person, and I thought I was going to absolutely smash this PhD. I thought it was going to go really smoothly, and it ended up just taking me years, and I was not that good at it, and I spent like eight years or something doing this thing.

What was interesting about that was I think it was just really good for me, from a personal level, just the fact that I realised that no-one around me actually cared how good I was at stuff. That wasn’t the basis of them liking me or not liking me. It was much simpler than that, and so I think I learned some nice things about human relationships and stuff like that from that.

I think probably before I went into that experience of the PhD that didn’t go that well, I always kind of felt like I had to be sort of impressive for people to like me, and I had this situation where all that stuff that I tried to do, in my professional life or whatever, was going really bad. I’d lost all my funding. I was living hand to mouth for a long time, and the friends around me were just, you know, none of that mattered. None of my ability to do good at things seemed to be that important, and if anything, it was a barrier to being closer to people, because I could just be more real and vulnerable. It’s just one of those growing up things, that I suppose your relationship with your parents is a little bit different, and my parents are lovely, but it’s always clear that they want you to do well, and so you sometimes carry that forward into your relationships with your peers. But your relationship with your peers is often not based on that kind of stuff at all. It’s just about being real with each other. So, it just took a long time to learn that.

I value the people around me. I value the things in front of me. The people that are in the same room as me, I always very naturally kind of care about, and sometimes, yeah I don’t have a good answer for that one, sorry. I find it hard to talk about that kind of thing.

I grew up in Wellington, in Island Bay, a small town in a small kind of suburb in Wellington. I had sort of four or five really good mates, and we just hung out all the time in that little suburb, and it was really nice.”

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