In December 2016, now just over 2 years ago, I made the decision to leave sixth form after just three months. In today’s post, I wanted to share my experiences of ‘dropping out’ and explain exactly why I came to the decision to do so.
Having left high school in June 2016 with 11 GCSE passes to my name, including 1 A*, 6 Bs and 4 Cs, it was a question of what I should do next. Although I did make the decision to go to college and continue studying, I had very little idea of what I wanted to study nor what direction I should go in. Rather than making a decision that I was sure of, I feel like I just conformed to the expectations of society and my family through choosing to going to sixth form.
After deciding to study Economics, Finance and Statistics (last minute choices may I add), I was feeling very apprehensive about how I would cope in such a new environment. While the initial first few weeks of settling into new classes, meeting new classmates and teachers and finding your way around are expected to be quite nerve-wracking, I’d hoped that these feelings would subside eventually.
During high school, I suffered with severe anxiety for a number of years. I’d be petrified talking up in class, frightened about walking past groups and would avidly avoid going to the lunch hall alone through the fear of being judged or looked at. My behaviours incredibly went unnoticed by myself and others and I never even considered I could have a problem. Because my difficulties went untreated for so long, I believe that by the time I even reached college they had developed to an unhealthy point.
Only a few months into my college life, these feelings of extreme overwhelming anxiety came bubbling to the surface. Almost everyday I was experiencing awful panic attacks before going to college and it was finally picked up on by my mum. Having witnessed the majority of my panic attacks at home and suffered herself, she was the first to realise a problem and that something had to change. And fast.
Never before in my life had I told someone how I truly felt, however now was my chance. Just through my mum being there and listening, I felt like a massive weight had been lifted from my shoulders. In my own mind, I had always passed off my actions as normal behaviour but the fact a problem had been identified meant we could do try to find a solution. Myself and my mum decided that a meeting with the support staff would be the next step!
Going into the meeting I had relatively high hopes that they could support me, however, it couldn’t have gone worse. The staff member we saw showed very little compassion and understanding around my own struggles and it was clear that the college felt very reluctant to provide me with the support I hugely needed. From there I decided that I should leave but it was still it was a difficult decision. On reflection, I definitely made the correct choice.
As I am and always have been very much a perfectionist, I sometimes still feel a sense of failure for leaving. What I have learnt though is your health is more important than any college, job etc. In today’s society, priority in places of education is placed on achievement/progression and not enough on emotional wellbeing, therefore a shift is definitely needed. After all, the happier we are, the more likely we are to be successful. The sooner we all realise this the better!
To anybody reading this and going through similar, the advice I will offer is go with your instinct. If you do choose to leave, don’t ever feel ashamed or guilty for looking after your own wellbeing. Education is always something you can return to anyway!
Thanks for reading,