Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.Nelson Mandela
Now if somebody would have told me back in September that my access course would finish this April, a whole 3 months prior to the propose end date in June, I’d have laughed them square in the face. Yet low and behold, that is exactly how events have unfolded. And there’s nobody more shocked and flabbergasted than me. I promise you that!
When I enrolled at Blackpool and the Fylde College in August 2019 planning to study social science, it was nearing 3 years since I decided to leave sixth form after 3 months. A decision that undoubtedly changed the course of my life forever. While the crippling self-doubts, anxiety and perfectionism remained heading into this course, mainly because of what happened previously, I also began this new challenge with a sense of hope, determination and a plan of what I wanted to achieve. The person I was back at sixth form was completely different to the one I am now.
Though the realist in me appreciated how incredibly difficult passing the equivalent of 2 A-Levels in a period of 9 months- and managing a stressful workload would be- the prospect of studying sociology and psychology was something that hugely interested and compelled me. Whereas at sixth form I was incredibly unhappy, burdened by debilitating social anxiety and absolutely hated the subjects I chose at the ‘last minute’, the break I took from education allowed me to mentally refresh and workout what I wanted from life. What was my purpose? How would I achieve my goals? Was there anything I need to improve or get better at?
I know the traditional route of progressing seamlessly from school to college to uni to job works for some (and if so great), but the stark reality is that we all take different paths. While some people around me questioned my decision to take such a substantial break from education, I can definitely say now that it was the best thing I ever did. The stress was very frustrating and the pressure sometimes unbearable, yet if I didn’t make that bold choice who knows where’d I be now? Possibly in a job that I hated or already at uni doing a course that bores the life out of me.
By taking a step back, focussing more on my mental wellbeing and seeking much-needed support, I gained hugely rewarding life experience. No I wasn’t progressing academically, however one could argue that personal development is much more valuable. From getting into campaigning, meeting new friends and generally becoming more equipped to navigate life and what it throws at me, it provided me with the confidence to return to college and pass with ‘flying colours’. Not that it was easy may I add.
Although it’s slightly anti-climactic that the course has just been curtailed by coronavirus and average grades are being used as a measure of overall attainment, I am pleased that the hard work and dedication I have given over the last 6 months was reflected in the quality of my work and the grades I subsequently achieved. Certain moments were extremely tough, and I questioned whether it could be done, but I got there in the end and proved my own self-doubts emphatically wrong. It takes a lot to make me smile sometimes but achieving this is definitely not one of these instances. (Even if I have had to do less work).
As daunting as it may seem to move away to Chester in September, meeting plenty of new people and studying at an even higher level, I’m trying my best to use my experiences of progressing through college to tell myself that it can be done. That I can get a degree. Without a doubt uni will get hard, and yes I may be a ‘rabbit in the headlights’, however with the right commitment and guidance why can’t I get where I want to be? And the same goes for you!
The perception that people with mental health problems are lazy and incapable is so far from the truth. Having a mental illness doesn’t make you weak nor unable to have success- and that’s a fact! *Repeat this to the people around you*
Roll on September…… only 5 months to go!!
Thanks for reading,