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Recently I returned from my month-long stay in Stockholm, where I trained for a month at All Stars gym, home to MMA fighters such as Alexander Gustafsson and Khamzat Chimaev. Mixed martial arts is an extreme sport which is often associated with the idea of brutal violence and aggression, which combines a mixture of every martial art’s effective techniques. During my time at University, I have found that it is more than a reckless and a brutal hobby for aggressive and angry people…

During my first year of University, I felt lost and disappointed. My passion for business dwindled, as I found academia to be corrupted and subverted; the ideas shared in the textbooks were normative but did not resonate with my experiences of the business world. Halfway through the first trimester, I stopped attending lectures and drowned myself in hedonistic pursuits, consuming harmful substances and waking up worse than the day before. It became worsened by some issues at home as I reached a point of complete hopelessness, losing any purpose I had set for myself nearly a decade earlier to become a great business consultant at McKinsey or Deloitte.

At the beginning of the second trimester, my friend dragged me to an MMA class at Lions Den MMA. I walked into the gym feeling intimidated by much stronger and more experienced fighters. I headed to the corner of the changing room to get changed as quickly as possible, growing with the desire to just get this over with and never come back. However, this feeling disappeared when I met the coach, Dave Matthews, who, over the course of the past year, has become much more than a coach, but also a mentor and a role model. As the training began, all the internal monologue, which pushed itself into forming destructive thoughts and habits for the past five months, disappeared as all my focus and attention became directed at the training.

After the training was over, it took me less than a moment to realise that this was what I needed in my life. I started training two to three times a day, which forced me to develop a routine, fix my diet, and ultimately turned my life around. I became obsessed with the sport, and will always thank it for how it has helped me to develop in every aspect of my life. Through this sport, I have made meaningful friendships, gained confidence, and come to a profound conclusion regarding life’s purpose.

There is not a single purpose which exists for our lives. There can be many purposes for your life – if you wake up one morning and feel that the idea of your purpose that you held for your entire life is suddenly alien to you, do not look back and feel you have wasted your past in pursuit of something meaningless. Life has different stages, and maybe one day I will wake up and realise that MMA is not my purpose. However, now I know that each stage gives you transferable skills which will help in your newfound purposes. No experience or passion is a waste if it is experienced fully and purposefully.

From my experience, I have also extracted a simple idea that a person with no meaning drowns himself in pleasure. Therefore, I urge you to go and find something meaningful and not get disheartened if something you found meaningful suddenly seems alien to you.

Authored by Alex Podolskiy, Gen Z consultant at Imagen Insights