Anne Lim, Law, St Anne’s College, Oxford (2014-17)
WHAT CHARACTERISED YOUR TIME IN OXFORD?
My time in Oxford was weird and wonderful, but more often than not it was everything in between – challenging, exhausting, and sometimes discouraging. There were many late nights, essay crisis-induced complaints, and the constant reminder that there was always more to do. Things did not start out easy, go smoothly, or end simply. However, choosing to take on the difficulties I faced during my degree (self-induced or not) has been the best thing I have ever done for myself.
I will be the first to say that I was not a star pupil in Oxford. In first year, my personal tutor asked me if I ever thought about being a judge. I was quick to say ‘no’ while gesturing at my latest essay plan. She was one of the first people I have met who made me stop and ask myself ‘why’. To her, there was no reason why I should let pre-conceived notions of my ability as an individual, and as a woman in the legal industry, convince me to place dreams out of my own reach. There was no reason I could not work to achieve something if I wanted it. There was no reason to let anyone tell me ‘no’.
During my three years at Oxford, I have crossed paths with many people like her – people who remind you of your strengths when you refuse to see them and encourage you when you feel like you fall short. In this place, I have heard the phrase ‘you can’t do it’ uttered constantly, but I soon realised the only person who has ever said this to me was myself. No one here will give you a free pass and no one is here to make things easy for you, but through the challenges you face, that loud ‘I can’t’ you tell yourself will be softened by the assurances of those around you that ‘you can’.
I may not have graduated with the ambition of becoming a judge, but I have left with a grateful heart for those who have tested my resolve and challenged me to be better, all the while standing beside me in support. I will not promise you that things will always be easy or fun, but if you choose Oxford you choose a place that will give you the challenges, experiences and support to tell yourself that in spite of what you face, ‘you can, and you will’.