Finally, the time has come. I’ve finished my degree. The fact I can actually type those words feels the most surreal feeling I’ve ever felt. With no exaggeration, I didn’t really believe I’d make it to the end.
Months prior to leaving for Uni, I had talks with my Mum of fearing I couldn’t do it. Particularly the social side of things. I wouldn’t know anyone, I’d be living away from home, fending for myself and that’s a massive deal. Particularly for someone who up struggles with social anxiety and up until that point only socialised to the minimum, spending her time at Sixth Form and not in the best mental state. Even the weeks leading up to uni, I was attending doctors appointments about my relationship with food and disordered eating, and had, that summer, been put on anti-depressants. The thought of going to uni at this point felt a bit unrealistic, an idea, a distant potentiality.
But I did it.
I remember moving in that Saturday afternoon and having to sit down because I felt so dizzy and overwhelmed. Said a brief ‘hello’ to my flatmates, feeling completely dissociated and convinced that the whole thing wasn’t actually happening. My Mum left and that room we’d just-about squeezed my life into, was mine for the year. I shared a flat of 8, and what I was yet to realise, was that going to Uni was going to completely change my life.
Not only did I study the course of my dreams, at one of the top universities in the country, but I was surrounded by people I actually felt comfortable and (for the majority of the time) constantly happy with. Which I’d never, ever experienced. Throughout school I struggled with friendship groups, bullying, and feeling isolated. Surprisingly, in moving to the second biggest city in the UK, I felt the least isolated I’ve ever felt. I remember the first day, nearly a year in to living there, that I went into Birmingham on my own for the day. Which, may sound silly to many, but to me was a massive deal. Because crowds frightened (and still do) me and being able to go in to the city centre alone was a huge step, and progress.
I’ve calculated, and in the space of three years, I’ve written (over, this is a very rough estimate) 7 extended essays, 8 (?) massive Creative Writing assignments/extended essays, exams, and my dissertation. I haven’t really had a ‘proper’ break over that time, Christmas and Easter being spent revising or writing 3,000-4,000 word essays!
I’ve had the most incredible opportunities; attending careers talks, stage shows, residentials. I was a Creative Writing Representative for the Student-Staff Committee in Second Year, wrote for an online magazine, cried out of happiness and got so drunk I projectile vomited (which is always a story to tell.) I’ve read books I never thought I would or could, from novels written in the 1600-1700s, to writing essays on the likes of Woolf, Bronte, Austen and Wilde.
Sure, at times, Uni was physically and mentally exhausting, but every slip or obstacle was met with one thing. I found myself. I found self belief and confidence for the first time in my whole life, and writing that makes me feel quite emotional, haha! I feel confident enough to start conversations with new people, talk about my passions, express my opinion in seminars and even order in restaurants without my voice shaking.
I always heard going to Uni is one of the best experiences of your life and the way you find yourself. But I never really understood that, the idea of finding who I was, until I did. I’ve left university not only with a frickin’ degree, but a sense of self worth and belonging. I’ve found my voice, my drive, my passion. Oh, and I also wrote a DISSERTATION.
For those of you fearful of university, who are telling themselves they can’t do it and that it’s over-hyped or something they just can’t do, see me as a success story. I did it. I went from spending breaks and lunches in the library at school because I was so scared of socialising, to attending lectures/seminars, living by myself and performing my poetry to an audience.
University is one of the best experiences of your life and I mean that wholeheartedly. I am so grateful for the wonderful people I’ve met, the memories I have and all the opportunities I have right in arm’s reach.