I left University on the 1st June 2015, and can honestly say leaving was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Not many people know why I left, and what I went through has been hanging over me ever since. I finally feel, that over one year later, it really is time to let go and realise that it is okay to fail at something, and it takes time to find where you really belong.
In school, I was absolutely convinced that performing was the career path I wanted to take, but after auditioning for Musical Theatre, I just wasn’t sure if it was really for me, and decided to take my place at University in Guildford to study Adult Nursing.
I cannot deny that I had one of the best years of my life whilst at University. I settled in so quickly, met some amazing people and of course, met my boyfriend, Matthew. I remember when starting University, I was really concerned about the jump between A Levels and a degree, but managed to achieve firsts and 2.1s in the first few modules I took. Over the Christmas period, however, whilst revising for an exam, I found myself really struggling on one particular module. To cut a long story short, I failed it. I then had to resit the exam in April (on my birthday, yay), and failed again…
I didn’t know straight away I had failed for the 2nd time, so had already started placement on a hospital ward which I was absolutely loving and succeeding at. 1st June 2015 was when I found out, via email, whilst on a 12 and a half hour shift. I remember looking at my phone, and if anyone has ever seen/read/been told anything that has made them feel like their whole world is crashing down, you will know exactly how I felt. For those of you that don’t know, with NHS courses, a failure of an exam or piece of coursework twice results in termination of your course place immediately. I literally felt like my life was over. I recall seeing one of the mature students on my course on the opposite ward to me minutes after I found out the result and just bursting into floods of tears whilst she hugged me tight. Five minutes later I had pulled myself together and decided to stay for the 9 and a half hours I had left of my shift, I was so determined to prove myself and not have to leave University.
I spent around two and a half months appealing the decision, with valid extenuating circumstances which were later dismissed. I was living back at home at the time, and they were the worst months in terms of the process. I saw close friends from home during this time and bare faced lied to them that I was still at University because the embarrassment of what happened was too much to face. I didn’t sleep properly, cried basically all of the time, and felt like I had absolutely no purpose. The only thing that kept me going were my amazing family, shoutout to my Mother for all of her hugs and advice, and for also being completely real with me and telling me that I had no choice but to sort myself out! And of course my boyfriend for reassuring me that it would get better.. even though I didn’t believe it would.
Anyway, I never got my place back, and quickly decided to get a full time job and stay living in Guildford with friends from University. At times I was so glad I stayed, and other times I wondered why I had. Because, in all honesty, for the past year since leaving, I have felt like a little lost fish. No one can prepare you for how much failure like that hurts. One minute, your career seems all planned out, the next you don’t know what you are doing. My perfect little life bubble had burst, and I was floating around lost and confused. I just wanted to run back home, and not have to worry about where my life was going, or what I was doing. The regular talk and reminder of University around me was often too much, and I felt very much alone. Mixed in with the fact there seems to be so much pressure nowadays on your career, and mine was non existent.
I have mentally beat myself up so much over the past year for being a failure, and not being good enough, and lacked in self confidence hugely. I looked at friends who were doing well at University, others who had good jobs, and just thought, “I am awful”. I have absolutely nothing to be proud of myself for, I couldn’t even get a degree. I have cried so many times over not knowing what I want to do, and for feeling lost. For some reason this made me super paranoid, and I began to think the worst in every situation, to prepare myself for failure or bad things happening, simply so I didn’t get hurt like before. There would even be times where I would do something stupid, like spill water, and absolutely flip out because I couldn’t face doing anything wrong, I was so hung on up being a failure, I couldn’t allow myself to just be a normal human.
It is only really over the past month that I have realised, that really needed to stop. I look at where I am now, a year on, and although I still don’t really know what I want to do, I am living in my first ‘home’, in a flat with my boyfriend, paying for it all myself, and although I am pretty sure it is not what I want to do forever, I do have a full time job. I got really sick of ‘failure’ defining who I was, and getting upset because my life wasn’t together yet… I am 20?! Who realistically has their life together at 20?! It is probable that I will still have days where I think, “what on earth am I doing?”, but they are definitely fewer and far between. I am SO over beating myself up for what happened; it happened. But it has definitely given me a huge life lesson, and that is that life isn’t easy, but it is far too short to waste it dwelling on the past. For now, I am happy in myself, looking forward to the future, and am proud of where I am now.