I was never very good at school or college, I suppose I’m just not one of those academic types. I’m more creative and I feel so trapped when I am in a classroom, it does nothing good for my mental health.
Somehow I managed to pass my GCSE’s, so I was quick to jump onto college, I didn’t really want to work at 16. It was funny that I was an adult and yet I was burdened with a financial choice, as the only way I could live at home for ‘free’, was if I was in education.
I had no idea what results when I applied for my college course, a flaw in the UK education system. I did not know my options, not really.
So, I applied to do a course that I knew I would get on, it had the highest acceptance rate. However, the tutor ended up being a bully and I hated every moment of it. Thus ended, prematurely, my first year at college.
My only solace was a 10 Week Course I enrolled on immediately after leaving college so that my parents could keep their benefits. I wanted them to be happy and it was a really easy course, so I had no problem in completing it.
I was still without a college education, so I made the choice to go back. This time I enrolled in a different course of something that I did love, that could lead to University and my ideal career.
I was doing so well, I was on track to get the top marks and for the first time I did think that I may be able to go onto degree level, it was never an option before. When my father went missing in January, I tried to keep going in but I just couldn’t.
My tutors agreed I could finish the first year of the course at home (I got a Merit, woo!). The only catch was that I would not be able to go into the second year, which meant I did not have the qualifications to attend any university. Down the drain, that career did go!
A year later, I started at college at a different campus, same college, just a town over as I had moved house. I was in a better place and I just wanted to get college out-of-the-way.
By December that year, I had gone through my hardest breakup, I tried to continue to go to college but it felt impossible. I walked out of class one lunch, after a severe panic attack and never went back.
I managed to get into an apprenticeship later that year, it wasn’t college level but it did land me a job and I did that for over a year, nearly a year and a half. Alas, I made the decision to quit that job after a massive relapse, I loved the job but couldn’t deal with the stigma that was in that office.
It got so bad that I couldn’t walk to work without wanting to jump into the river near my home. My choice was my life or money, I chose the latter.
In 2017, I took a leap of faith and I found an Access to Higher Education course. It was basically A Levels but for adult learners, so no one was under 19, this gave me so much comfort. In my head, I thought if I had to go back to college, I’d be the kid 3 years older than everyone, which would be a nightmare – I was glad this was not the case.
I got to choose three subjects, English, Sociology and Psychology and I did it part-time as it was all my mental health could handle. I never went in with the intention of amazing grades. I just wanted to pass so I could have the option of going to University in the future if I changed my mind.
It was the best decision I have ever made. There is a huge stigma attached to people who are still doing ‘basic’ education as adults, as they have fallen behind everyone else our age, or so society will say.
People forget to consider that all of these students have stories, reasons, they didn’t choose to be less ‘academic’ than others. They just had other priorities and now they can manage it, they have been brave enough to head back out and achieve their dreams and goals.
You are never too old to learn and never to old to follow those dreams! It took me 4 years to finish college but I never gave up and that is what is more important than anything else.
I now have the option of a degree and who knows what else, maybe I am 4 years late but I made it, that’s all that matters. Remember the tale of the tortoise and the hare.