One of my goals this year was to graduate. I had a really tough time during university, so being able to say I graduated is a massive achievement for me. This is my graduation story.
After leaving college, I was unsure of what I wanted to do at university. I retook my first year of college (another story for another time), so I felt the pressure to get back on track with my academic life. My nan suggested that I do child nursing as it would guarantee me a job and I was good with children. It made sense to me as I was still uncertain about which path I wanted to take in life. I had various family members and friends suggest career options based on what they thought I would be good at, but I didn’t see myself taking any of those paths. Growing up in a household where education is valued, I had to go to university. I didn’t have a choice about that. I decided to do child nursing at Brighton University.
Looking back now, I wish I could have told myself to just wait until I was ready. To work for a bit and discover what I wanted to do. But Brighton University was a great uni. The lecturers were amazing and the course was well designed. Everything was perfect…but I was struggling. I found it hard to engage with the course and the practical projects. I always thought of myself as being smart, but getting low marks consistently and travelling almost 4 hours each day was starting to take a toll on me. I was tired, stress and over worked.
During my time at Brighton, I worked, did full shift placements (12 hours) and attended lectures. It was a winters day when I just had enough. I woke up at 4am, showered and got dressed. I remember it was very cold and I was standing on the platform at my local train station thinking, ‘Can I really see myself doing this for the rest of my life?’. I disregarded my thoughts and went about my day. When I got to my placement, I was told that a 16-year-old girl that I had been looking after had passed away. It really hurt me because she had previously beat cancer and was told she was in the clear with the second cancer scare. I couldn’t take it emotionally. I lost my mother young, and could only imagine what her mother was going through. I had to excuse myself to go into the staff room to cry. The other nurses went about the day as if nothing had happened. It was then that I realised that I didn’t have the resilience to be a nurse. I didn’t want to do nursing.
I quit nursing after first year, to the disappointment of my family. They worried that I wouldn’t get a degree. I took some time out to just work and decide what I wanted to do. By the end of my break, I had decided. I wanted to do English…but I didn’t know what aspect of English exactly. I just loved English; I love reading and writing. I applied to Kingston University and enrolled to do English Literature, Language and Communications (I think I covered all my bases). I loved it! But as usual, my story wasn’t that straight forward. My family ran into financial difficulty because my aunt was made redundant and my nan became very unwell. (I’ve grown up with my nan and aunty).
I split my time between work, uni and caring for my nan. It wasn’t easy and there were times when I didn’t see myself finishing. I envied those around me who just complained about ‘being bored’ and not knowing what they were doing that weekend. I broke down numerous times, but my partner, family and close friends continued to encourage me and remind me of how close I was.
The day I graduated, was the best day of my life so far. I got my make-up done at Bare Minerals, wore a black dress with the black heels my partner bought me. I felt confident and for once, truly beautiful. I had so much fun at my graduation and took loads of pictures. I was so excited and pumped with adrenaline that I dabbed when I received my certificate. The whole day was just wonderful, it makes me smile thinking about it. I felt the love and pride from my family. Even my nan managed to make the trip to my graduation ceremony despite still feeling weak and unwell.
My message to you, is to just run your own race. It’s easy to look at others around you and compare how successful you are. Just because people look put together, you don’t know their struggles or the work they have put in to get there. Just strive to be the best version of yourself and don’t give up on your dreams.