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I recently wrote a 300 word editorial piece for a competition to raise the profile of the University of Surrey’s STEM postgraduate researchers with the business community. It just so happens that as an added promotional bonus, the writing had to be about my transferable skills, attributes and experience.

My piece secured me a place in the final round - a three minute test of presentation skills and personality. With presentation aids forbidden, I had a quirky visual aid prepared to go alongside my talk about problem solving. However my visual aid didn't make its star appearance on the day, and neither did I.

A combination of moving house and work deadline stress decided to manifest itself in the form of illness. I couldn't sell myself as a great person if I wasn't feeling like one, and so I let the opportunity slide. I made my apologies and missed out on giving my presentation. I may have let some people down (including myself), but I had to say no to keep my health in check.

I hate missing any personal development opportunity - I think it's very valuable to say yes to as many different experiences as you can and so I rarely turn one down. I wasn't interested in the prize money or winning the competition - I just wanted the experience. Although not what I expected, not taking an opportunity was a new sense for me and I learned something from that.

Now I know that I can say no to opportunities and still learn from them. Pushing myself hard to do the best I can shouldn't push me over the edge. Despite what others may say or think, I can say no. I can let myself breathe a little knowing that I am able to prioritise my commitments to look after myself.

My congratulations go to the winners and all of the fellow entrants of the competition. I am looking forward to reading their articles online soon. As for mine, well you can read that in my next blog post.