Forgot your password?

We just sent you an email, containing instructions for how to reset your password.

Sign in

  • It all started at my Oxford interview. I was sitting in the common room, waiting to be dismissed after three gruelling days of interviews – five in total. I was mentally exhausted, emotionally fragile, and probably not very nice to be around, when a guy comes and plonks himself down right next to me

    At the time I thought “Why the hell did that guy just sit next to me?” Now it is a conversation I will never forget. To understand you will have to hear a bit more of the background. My interview was at the college I wanted to go to (sometimes you get moved) but on the last night, when I was meant to be going home, they said I had to wait and complete two more interviews at a tiny private hall (like a little college, normally very religious and previously a place solely to train monks). Being mixed race, atheist, and generally not a small-town kind of a guy, I was gutted. Anyway, back to the dude who sat next to me. He turned to me and asked the normal questions, what I was applying for, where I was from, all that shit that you get bored of answering, especially when tired and not in the mood for conversation. I turned to him, and, being Oxford, the first thing that shocked me was that he was black. That relaxed me in some odd way, in that I was low on confidence and I realised that by odds I had a better chance of getting in than he did (it turned out he was a 2nd year Lawyer). Now it doesn’t sound like much, but we talked for an hour and when I was getting tetchy to leave he asked me what was going on. I explained the situation, he sat, quietly but confidently and then said “Don’t worry mate I’ll sort it out”. Now I don’t know if it was just the relief that someone was helpful, or the fact that I had got bored of listening to Eton boys call each other “Buddy”, but it genuinely changed my perspective on life. I knew from that moment that I would never ever tell myself that I could not fit in somewhere.

    If the story ended here it would make sense to me but probably not to anyone else. So I will continue. I ended up getting in, to my original college, which even this lovely lad who from now I will refer to as “B” said was “almost never going to happen”, when he said bye to me having called the tutor to pester them into an answer on whether I could go home. When I arrived I was shaking, my mum called me “A man on a mission”. I was probably, again, not nice to be around. For some reason that I still haven’t deciphered I was put in a staircase full of second years, with an en-suite but without anyone easy to meet. This made me worried, until, walking over with a (amazingly beautiful) second year making me more nervous by saying that normally your friendship group is decided by staircase, B appears. I smile at him, remembering how nice he was, and expecting him to smile back like the nice guy he was. It was a reaction that got rid of all nerves, as he shouted my name at the top of his voice, came and gave me a man hug (you know one of the one shoulder to one shoulder pat on the back ones?). He introduced me to all his friends, and from then on I never worried about meeting people again. This guy was a stranger, although now I’d call him a friend, and he changed my life twice.

    I guess my point is that it is the little things in life that count. You don’t need to cure cancer to make a difference, just do the little things that so many people forget about.
    • Share

    Connected stories:


Collections let you gather your favorite stories into shareable groups.

To collect stories, please become a Citizen.

    Copy and paste this embed code into your web page:

    px wide
    px tall
    Send this story to a friend:
    Would you like to send another?

      To retell stories, please .

        Sprouting stories lets you respond with a story of your own — like telling stories ’round a campfire.

        To sprout stories, please .

            Better browser, please.

            To view Cowbird, please use the latest version of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, or Internet Explorer.