Saturday, July 20Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

‘You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone’ – or do you?

The old classic: “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” is thrown around a lot. It’s one of those bittersweet feelings in life, where retrospection is simultaneously your best friend and your worst nightmare. With my time at Holloway now drawing to a close on the eve of my last exam (why I’m writing an article and not revising God only knows), my thoughts are populated more than I’d like by this notion.

This is hardly a new thought for me though, especially as I spend the majority of my time wrapped up in a process of overthinking that would make Hawking proud. Yet at this point of life, for the first time I also feel like I have the clarity to look back into the past and into the future too. I mean after all the purpose of University is to prepare us for life, as a psychology student I have, according to popular belief, gained the ability to read minds. Meanwhile my Geography counter-parts are set for a career in illustration and those studying drama are, er, they are ready for… Anyway, the point being is that all the way through University you spend your time looking forward thinking; where is this going? What job will I get afterwards? How much money will I make? Can I say “down it fresher” to new employees at the water machine? Then in the most incredible cosmic U-turn, as I speak to people already a few years ahead of where I am now, they seem to continue to exist by reminiscing about how great University was.

Even after studying human nature and psychology for three years, why this happens I cannot fully explain. Whether it is some in built coping mechanism to justify exam stress and the 9 to 5 grind, or just a learned process of utter self-destruction, (humans do seem particularly good at that) I have no idea. What I do know however, is that I don’t want this to happen to me anymore. So let me get this right – I have just spent three years in University to have a brighter future, only to turn around and say, well University was brighter than this shit? Oh no no no. So I now ask for your help, anyone reading this, let’s reinvent the old phrase together!

Rather than “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” how about “know it now”… okay I’ll admit the phrase needs some tweaking, some zing, but you know what I mean right? If it’s so incredible in retrospection, why can’t it be incredible when you do it? So here’s where I get a bit soppy and sentimental. A good example of this is love *cue muffled sighs from everyone reading* but bear with me here. Love is a good example, because for many, University is a means to meet people who you are truly compatible with, who have a similar intellect (sometimes) and whom you can ask out on a date without pulling their hair or punching them in the arm. Once you meet that person, and it clicks, there are fireworks, Michael Bublé starts singing spontaneously at the window and you would literally do anything – even stay at Kingswood – to be with that person.

The incredible thing though is that you can love someone more than you ever thought possible (even more than bacon, yes), and yet as time moves forward so do people. Inevitably the tides of love ebb and flow and people drift apart (hope you all liked that metaphor there). This is where that old notion came from, “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone”… but in love, you did! You and that person were in love, and now you’re not. Whilst there is a period of Ben & Jerry based self-medication, the even more incredible part is that we move on, we love again and the other person loves again. Does this diminish or undermine what the two of you shared, I don’t personally think so. Yet for whatever reason, you’ve both managed to find happiness in a new time, a new place and a new moment that you are living in right now.

So my simple plan is why not apply that principle to the rest of our existence? Rather than use the crutches of retrospection or indeed over-planning, just be present now. That way there will be nothing to regret missing nor feel as though you are just waiting for the future to just happen to you. We have the power to create our own path every day, it will never be too late to start a new path, to make a new turn or simply rest a while where we are; you can even walk back from time to time. But just remember wherever you have come from and wherever you think you are going, the path will be just as worth the walk.

So I say farewell and wish you all love and luck in all you do. I would also like to thank two people in particular for their support, they know who they are and I just want them to know, I am blessed to have shared part of my journey with one and continue it with the other.

You can check out more from Alex on his new blog and Youtube channel, The Cosh-Blog, at: and