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University. Why and how I got there…

At 9am this morning the OSIS portal opened and laid before my peers and I was a listing of modules. Over 6 months of university education have passed almost as quickly as they started and it’s time to start making degree shaping decisions.

At the age of 25, being a first year student was not particularly something I had planned nor did I expect to occur. At the end of September I found myself sat at home packing my bag with stationary and books, I couldn’t help but think it was similar to the typical summer holiday teenage rituals.

For the last 7 or so years I hadn’t relied on books or writing. My rucksack had carried climbing supplies, an assortment of lunch ingredients and a few personal effects. The transition was surreal. Here I sat with a small welcome book entailing what welcome week had planned for me.

University had become something of a foregone conclusion, at the age of 18 when my year group embarked upon their university journeys I found myself in a limbo stage. Craig House, University of Greenwich studying History. I was in, my space was reserved, I would commute from home and study on campus. However there was this aching feeling I was doing the wrong thing. Though I had been accepted, my History A Level was far from desirable. After two years of struggling to motivate myself to even attend History classes I had to wonder what I was signing myself up for. I wasn’t all that interested in History, why would I shape my future to that of a Historian?

From a young age I never knew what I wanted to do. My friend had ambitions to be a football player, that girl who sat 3 seats down my table, she wanted to be a beautician. But me, honestly I had no idea. I struggled through my adolescent years really questioning what it was I would become.

With little direction and an aching feeling that university was not right for me at that time, I decided to try my hand at work. For a few years I explored a variety of different trades, often miserable as I just had no clue of where I was meant to be. In 2012 however, my luck would change. I had just come out of a messy break up and I felt incredibly disconnected from everything. I was looking for a fresh start.

A friend of mine had recently started activity instructing, it was a bit of an alien concept to me in all honesty. I had never been good at sports and I hardly saw myself as the most outgoing or confident person. I had often shied away in social situations and I’d get uptight and anxious, comparing myself to others and the good traits they had and feats they’d achieved. Plus it meant moving away, I’d start by moving to Wales but where from there was anyone’s guess.

Instructing gave me a new lease of life, the confidence I gained from it was invaluable. I prided myself on my feedback. I would stand before hundreds of children, singing and dancing. I’d always been hyperactive, so belting out songs about bananas and pirates at the top of my lungs was the perfect job. The feedback I received helped build back some self worth and confidence that I’d found myself missing for too long. Teachers would tell me I should enter their profession, kids were telling me I was their hero, my career satisfaction was at an all time high.

I continued instructing for some years, in different shapes and forms, but instructing nonetheless. Sadly my career in instructing did come to an end. I held many bitter feelings for a very long time, hell to some extent I still do, but ultimately it was only ever going to be a temporary arrangement. My future was not in such a seasonal occupation.

So I’ve provided deep insight into my career endeavours but how was that concluded with me studying at university. Nearly this time last year, early May to be precise, I found yet another career choice falling apart before my eyes. After coming out of work in May, depression which I had been battling on and off for years hit crippling levels and my self worth and belief hit rock bottom. I’m not ashamed to say that I’d spend entire days in bed, examining my timeline, feeling resentment and envy at what my peers were achieving whilst I continuously ruined my life. I was jealous, really jealous. Why did he have this all-singing all-dancing job? Why was she so more successful than I was? It was horrible and in that situation my own thoughts were my own kryptonite.

I endlessly looked for jobs but nothing resonated with me. Just a few months previous I had an array of offers at my disposal but now I had nothing. For years I’d often wondered what life may had been if I had took a gamble and went to university just like most people my age had done. That nagging feeling that I was missing out would not leave me and in the end I’d spend months exploring every possibility before ultimately I’d start the UCAS process.

And here I am, studying Journalism with Media and Communications. I was steered towards journalism because I’ve always been passionate about writing. I often find myself reading online content and the feedback I get from my own fills me with an incomparable sense of happiness and confidence. I am far from the best, and I still have so much to learn, but writing is something I aspire to become incredible at.

I will be completely honest, when I started university I had my doubts. I felt the elephant in the room was my age. By some form of miracle I have been blessed with youthful looks and I can often pass as the same age as my classmates. I didn’t really know how to explain why I was studying so much later than the rest of the people on my course. Luckily my journalism class put me at ease. I am lucky to study with such a mature group of people, my class has some absolutely incredible people with whom I am so glad to have met. Most of my close friends from that class are in their early 20s so I don’t even feel embarrassed about my age. In some ways I would say my media class offers a similar dynamic, though it’s less warm and inviting and the maturity levels are certainly more varied.

My first two pieces of graded work certainly put the dampeners on my experience. I had been so confident in my writing ability but the fact of the matter is I had been out of education for 7 years, many of the skills I had built up were now non-existent. I put my head down and kept working though and the last 4 pieces of graded work I’ve received back have all blown me away. One piece in particular came back with a grade I thought I would only ever dream about!

So that is how I ended up at university at 25 and at the risk of sounding sentimental I will say: If you’ve got a dream, chase it. Don’t put things off because you think you’re too old or you’re not good enough. Take a chance with both hands because you don’t know what you might make of it.

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