This Saturday, October 1st, I (finally) start my degree.
Until recently I regretted not going down the traditional university route. I left school mid-way through my A Levels. My seventeen year-old brain reasoned that I could spend more time with my boyfriend, and earn money, if I quit my studies and took a job as office junior at his workplace. We split up within three months and a bad job became unbearable.
My next mistake (there have been many) was to listen to a careers advisor and utilise my skills (?) by studying Business Administration at the local college. I hated it. It was boring and essentially I spent two years of my life learning how to do a job I hated. My work-placement offered me a full-time job once I’d finished and while everyone around me raved about how fantastic this was, I was miserable. I worked in the recruitment department of Royal Mail and the only good thing about my job was the free coffee. Yes, it was that good.
Disillusioned with this so-called great life, I packed my bags and went travelling, before living in London and very briefly Nottingham on my route home. Living back with my parents I took on dead-end job after dead-end job. Waitressing, telesales (ugh) and care work. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I was drifting along. In the back of my mind I always considered returning to studying, but I was a chronic sufferer of ‘some day’ syndrome.
So, I got married, had a baby and got divorced. Difficult personal circumstances in 2009 led me to believe I was invincible and could do anything I wanted (yeah, that feeling passed) and once I’d found my feet, I began looking into the Open University.
I studied two short courses, one in counselling skills which I just scraped through with a pass and a science based one which I failed in quite an impressive manner. Disheartened, I put the thought of getting a degree out of my head. I couldn’t shake the niggling feeling that I wanted to do something. I enjoy learning and aside from my writing, I felt I needed something to stimulate my mind. Sitting down with pen and paper I went through the OU prospectus, writing down the courses that took my interest, in the hope of building up an open degree. Unsurprisingly, every course I chose was arts based. I enrolled on my first module (The Arts Past and Present) quickly before I could change my mind. And here we are.
I know I made the right choice because I cannot wait to delve into the course. I’ve already read a good chunk of the material and I’m genuinely excited to get started. I’ve long shunned studying the arts and literature based on other people’s (namely, my parents) belief that it would never lead to a ‘proper’ job but I’m doing this for me. Even if I end up back working in an office, I’ll know I can do it and if I’m devoting so much of my time to studying it may as well be something I’m going to enjoy.
Probably more importantly, I no longer regret the route I took to get here. Everything I’ve been through over the past decade, good and bad, has changed me. I am a different person from the one I was at eighteen. I’m more determined to succeed, and less naïve about how life works. Maybe life would have been perfect had I gotten my degree those years ago. In all honesty, I think I prefer what I’ve got now, warts and all.