Up and down the country, young adults everywhere are taking their next big steps in life. They’re heading off to college or University after months and months of hard work. At this time, I thought I would share my personal academic journey, and why I wish I’d done things a little differently.
Go back a few years and I was in high school. I did well and hung all my hopes on getting into my college of choice – Winstanley College. I pinned all my hopes on my acceptance. I was terrified I would be rejected or not get the results. I studied late into the night, gave myself crippling anxiety and would have been devastated if I hadn’t got in.
But I did. And it started all over again.
I went through a very low period in my life during college, but this was only known to myself as I kept it very hidden. During my first year of college, I studied biology, chemistry, English language and psychology. I had aspirations to become a doctor, a surgeon specifically. Although if you’ve ever seen my hands shake now you’ll see this was somewhat of a pipedream.
My AS results came and went and I did well. I was disappointed because I had always put this insane amount of pressure on myself. Even when I got an A I would find fault and say “oh, but it was only just an A”. My mum would always say “an A is an A.” She’s a good egg, that one.
I was on track for my goal. All I had to do was get through my second year and into university. Then another five years of school. Then god knows how many years of interning and 14 hour work days. But I told myself it would be worth it, that I could get through it if I pushed myself.
But I was keeping a secret that reflected my fragile state of mind at that time and my rock bottom self-esteem.
No one knew, but one day people did. One person, my mum, reacted with patience, understanding and love. Another with disgust, anger and zero compassion. Because of this secret, that person told me that I would never be able to achieve my goal because I wouldn’t be able to handle the stress.
And just with that, my dreams of studying Medicine were dashed. I turned instead towards my other passion of writing and studied Broadcast Journalism instead. University went a very similar way to college and high school, but that’s another story for another time.
So what’s the point in this story?
In college I buried myself in my studies like my life depended on it. I sacrificed everything else over getting the perfect grades. I pushed myself so hard that I can’t help but look back and feel like I missed out on making memories.
Recently I’ve been around people who cry with laughter and nostalgia over stupid drunken memories in college. Or bunking off to the park where “that amazing thing happened”. They went abroad together for lads and girls trips. They had house parties. They took pictures. They laughed and joked.
I can’t help but feel like I have missed out.
Would I do things differently if I could go back in time? I don’t think so. Because if I had done things any differently, I may not have ended up where I am now. I am 25, on the edge of starting a brand new chapter in my life. The past couple of years have been a rollercoaster to say the least, but now I am healthy, happy, loved, ambitious, content, motivated and growing.
Most importantly of all, someone in my life has made me see that grades and results are not the be-all. They have shared their memories with me and because of that I’m starting to live my life the way I wish I had done in college. Actually living it.
And I love them for it. They make me a different person; they’ve changed me for the better. They make me feel brand new.
I love living, and I know now what matters most in life. I’m making memories. I’m creating stories. I’m learning to love and laugh and be in the moment.
I’m getting to the point now, I promise.
Hindsight is a brilliant thing. I guess what I’m trying to say is to live the life that you want. I placed false ideals and pressure on myself that I had to be a certain way, do certain things and achieve certain goals, thinking that it would make my life better, when in actual fact I doubt it has made a jot of difference.
So if you happen to be reading this and are worried about the future following results day or while you’re studying, just know it’s not the last thing you will ever do in life. It was one tiny part of a long and fulfilling life that you can build to look exactly as you want.
And if you have a few regrets looking back – just like me – then know that it’s not too late to create the life you want. I promise you.