This post has been a long time coming and there is no doubt this will be a long post, there’s a lot I would like to talk about.
I want to begin by making a huge disclaimer, or a few. The following opinions are my own. This post is by no means meant as a ‘sob story’ or a persuasion piece. Experiences are personal. You need to do what is right for you, not follow what others like myself are doing. I am not here to tell people whether they should be in uni or not.
University has always been my biggest dream. I remember when I started secondary school I wanted to skip it and go straight to university, the same thing happened when I started college. I’m a very independent person. I’ve been able to take care of myself for years now. I’m lucky enough to have the mum I do, she’s taught me everything she possibly can to help me with adult life.
A lot of people around me have had the panic of ‘what am I going to do with my life’ in the last three-four years, but not me. Up until year 10 I was adamant I wanted to be a vet. By the end of that academic year I’d had a change of heart and English was my chosen path. I loved science, it still fascinates me. But I adore English so much, even now. So I’ve always had a career path in mind and in September off to university I went to study English Literature and Creative Writing at Bangor University.
Summer was full of work but never ending excitement for the academic year ahead. I was incredibly excited about university, it was all I spoke about and I couldn’t wait to move into halls – the closest thing to my own place. However, the night before moving day when mum and I were packing and trying to fit everything into the car I started to get a little frustrated. I had so many things I wanted to take with me (that comes with having crafts as a hobby) and they weren’t all going to fit. There was also a bigger battle going on in my head, which my mum noticed. I hadn’t had the panic or nerves my friends had had about moving but that night it hit me, I just didn’t want to admit it. The next day was busy and long. I still didn’t feel myself and I was rather overwhelmed. My flat was incredible, the kitchen was huge with an insane view and my room was the same. I’d chosen the best flat. But I was still upset, I didn’t want to be there. I love change, so I didn’t know what was wrong with me. All I knew was I couldn’t stop crying. The next day when my mum and brother came to help me unpack, I’d been crying since I woke up and finally stopped long enough to go out and let them both into the flat. It didn’t last long though, I was crying like a little child when my mum hugged me. I felt awful. The day was spent with me being on edge and upset, the whole weekend was like that in all honesty. On Monday morning my mum and brother were driving back to their homes, whilst I stayed. I was begging my mum not to leave me there, to take me home. Even now as I write this, I can remember the feeling rather vividly. As the week went on, things slowly got better. I spent a couple more days trying not to cry 24/7, but I got settled eventually. By the third week, so after freshers and my course introductory week, I was feeling much better. However, something still wasn’t right. I had told my mum on that Monday morning she left that if I was still crying loads in a month I would be coming home. She told me that was okay, but to try my best and give it a go. So I did. In week 3 I said that if I was still not feeling okay then I would try and hold out until christmas and leave at the end of the semester. Again my mum said, that’s okay to just try my best and things will get better.
One day I managed to smash my phone screen after leaving university for the day. I pay for insurance so luckily it all got sorted. Anyway, Beth (girl I miss you and you’re fab) was with me at the time and offered to come into town with me so we could go and get it sorted. When we went to Vodafone I basically couldn’t get it sorted on that day and I got incredibly frustrated. (It wasn’t their fault and they were really helpful and did get me sorted out a few days later. Shoutout to Jake in the Bangor Vodafone store for helping out.) There’s very few things that make me cry, despite this post basically saying I was a massive crying mess for a month or so of my life, in general I don’t really cry. But, I am one of those people that cry when they are frustrated or angry. I rang my mum and as I was annoyed with myself for dropping the phone and the fact I couldn’t get it sorted, I burst into tears down the phone. To do this day I still don’t really know what happened, all I know is that Beth was being an incredibly supportive friend whilst I stood in the middle of a street looking like an idiot as I cried down the phone to my mum. My mum being my mum knew that it was more than a smashed phone that had me feeling so down. I wanted to go home so badly. A family friend, Mark, was round our house at the time and thanks to both him and mum plans to come home for halloween were set in stone. I was overjoyed to know I’d be going home in a few weeks.
It was then I realised that things really weren’t working out still. I was alright most of the time, and down at others. For me, alright is my usual low. I’m usually insanely happy. Now, I do realise people get down all the time. I do. It’s just not as frequent as a lot of other people. It takes a lot and is very rare for me. So to be feeling so neutral or blurgh most of the time I’d been at university was horrible for me. A month in and I still wasn’t really feeling like my usual self. I was incredibly lucky to be where I was and have what I had, I still am very, very lucky. But something wasn’t right.
When I’m myself, feeling insanely happy, I’m also really weird and very excited. My flat mates are aware I am a complete weirdo, but they never/rarely got to see the ‘normal’ me. They always saw my neutral numb version of myself, where from the outside I look perfectly content. I don’t show negative emotions often, especially not in front of people. They saw me moody, upset, sad, annoyed. They did see me smile and laugh, but it just wasn’t as often as what you can normally expect from me. Those guys didn’t realise anything was wrong because they don’t know me. They’ve only known me to be like this. And for some bizarre reason they still liked me.
I adore my flat mates a lot. They are some of the weirdest, funniest, kindest, most generous and most caring people I have ever met. When I moved in I was so worried they’d hate how I didn’t want to go out drinking or clubbing, but they were so cool with it. They really didn’t mind. They still invited me out lots and after many no thank yous, it was left as an open invitation for me to join whenever they did something. I told them straight away that it wasn’t my thing. I think that was the best way to deal with being the way I am. I didn’t want to offend anyone and I felt so bad about it for the whole of freshers and a few days after. But being the wonderful people they are, they welcomed me anyway. I try not to have favourites, but we all know it can’t always be helped. Faye, I miss sitting in the dark on our laptops together whilst everyone else goes out. Marc, I miss your sarcasm and your cooking attempts. Jane, I miss your hugs and your excited little face every time I baked. Ollie, I miss your whistling and I even miss your daily rants/complaints. Ian, I miss discovering the latest new weird thing you’ve bought – the chicken will always be my fave. Thank you all for being you. Sophie, thank you for the chat on the day we moved in it really helped. Faye, thank you for being such a great listener and for all the support. I also met incredible people on my course. Beth, you were my first friend at Bangor and I’m so glad we were reunited, you are truly one of my best friends ever. Alex, although we only spent a few days together I really appreciated the support you gave me and still give me. Lydia, you’re just incredible, thank you for everything pal. Lauren, you’re so sweet and one of the loveliest people ever. Shoutout to anyone I haven’t mentioned here, thank you for being so nice to me and for being fab people in general. I may have digressed but I think it’s important to thank the people that were so good to me during my time at uni and still remain my friends to this day.
I had a great flat, with a big room and gorgeous views. I made friends with some incredible people. I adored my course. So why did I leave university? I wish I could pinpoint it and tell you the reason, I wish I could tell myself what it was. On the way home my mum asked me if we moved to Bangor would that have made university easier/better. I told her no. Yes I was homesick. Yes I was at a university that was at least four and a half hours drive from home. But that wasn’t why I left uni. For me, I knew I would miss my mum a lot, we are more like friends than mother and daughter so that was a given. However, despite missing her, moving away from mum would never stop me or put me off doing something. Everyone gets homesick, some more than others (so if this is the reason you may have left uni or are thinking of leaving, that’s okay). As I said before, university was my dream. It was something I always wanted. But when I got there to the minute I left, I never felt completely myself and it never felt like the dream I had in mind. I was insanely lucky to have the experience I did, to have the friends and flat I did, to enjoy my course as much as I did. But there was something that got me down a lot, and that had to change.
The day before my first trip home, I was ecstatic. I was so excited to be leaving uni for a few days and to see my mum. This was one of the moments when the people around me at university probably saw me at my best. Four fab days later and it was off back to uni I went. Trying my hardest not to cry, I managed to hold out through the see you soon to mum, a car ride, a train ride, a trip to the shop, and getting back to my room in halls. It was after saying hello to Jane and Faye and going into my room that I burst into tears. The welcome back was the sweetest and highly appreciated, but I didn’t want to be back at university. I text my mum about how awful I felt. What my mum didn’t know was that I’d be home again in four days as a surprise. I couldn’t understand why I felt so horrible and upset when I knew I’d be leaving again so soon. This is when I first mentioned leaving uni to Lydia and Beth. I didn’t want to go to my seminars that Monday afternoon, I didn’t want to see anyone. I didn’t want to be there and I couldn’t understand why. Thursday night came and I was overjoyed again, I was leaving university for 10 days, wahooo!! And just like that, by Monday night my mood had plummeted again. All I could think about was university. I was absolutely dreading going back. I enjoyed my week but this thought was hanging over me 24/7, I wanted it to go away. Most of all I wanted to understand why, and that’s something I still don’t have the answer to.
On Monday 16th November I returned to university. I had cried to mum telling her I really didn’t want to go, she told me she knows and hugged me tighter. It was five weeks until I’d be home for christmas. I got into my room and that’s when the tears started and didn’t stop for a while. I had emailed a student adviser the previous day and she had replied on my route back to university Monday morning. Understanding my urgency and upset, a meeting was arranged later that day. I phoned my mum a few minutes after getting back into my room at halls. I told her about the quick reply from Stephanie, the student adviser, and the meeting I was going to within the hour. I had no idea what to do with myself, I was the most upset I had been since the day I moved into halls. I really did hit all time low that morning. My mum told me lots of things, some that were incredibly personal to me and I will always be grateful to be her daughter. The support I have in my life is incomprehensible and I am so thankful everyday.
My first thought when I saw Steph? ‘I know what I want to do’. I told Steph everything and how I was feeling, I am by no means good at talking about my feelings but this was a huge decision. I would like to take a moment to thank Stephanie for everything she did that day. You really helped me figure things out and even made me giggle a few times. Thank you, endlessly.
I decided to suspend my studies, I never considered withdrawing completely. I wanted the option to come back and try again next year. I signed the form there and then. I had spoken to so many people over the last few days prior to this about my options and how I was feeling, but ultimately it was my decision to make. And so I made one. I filled out and signed the form. Almost immediately after handing it over to Steph she commented on how much better I already looked and that she felt I had made the right decision.
I’ve been home for three weeks now. I am applying for jobs and hoping to get one soon. Ideally I would like to get a full time job in admin, learn to drive and get a car. I would like to use my time to expand my skills and experience. Right now I have no idea if I am going to go back to university in September 2016. I don’t regret my decision at all. I miss my friends a lot, but I know I’ve done the right thing.
When I was making this decision, one thing that helped me was reading blog posts about people who had either dropped out or were considering it. I read Hannah’s, Sophie’s, Rache
So why did I write this blog post? I read these lovely ladies blog posts and they helped me a lot, but something I was looking for was missing. Something I’d liked most about Hannah’s and Sophie’s is they were immediate. They’d written their posts as things had happened. At the time I was reading them, I was actually still set on pushing through as it was the day after coming home for the first time. But when I read the other two’s and many others I haven’t mentioned, they all were written a while after once they’d got back on track and found their feet again. I had no, and still don’t really have a, plan. I don’t know what I want to do with my life. I’ve lost sight of my goals and dreams. This breaks my heart. But I also know things are going to be okay. And I also know, I’ve done what’s best for me. So I wanted to write this post now. Whilst everything is still all over the place. Whilst I still have no immediate plans or career goals. I have ambition and motivation, I still hold them in mountains, but I don’t know what I want to put them into yet. This blog is my little space on the internet, a place to be raw and real. Whilst I suck at talking about my feelings, opening up about my problems, I wanted to be honest whilst things are still fresh. To some, dropping out of uni (I really hate that phrase) may not seem like a big deal, and maybe it isn’t, but to me right now I feel a little lost. This little lost is still a happier me. I’m just re-finding my feet.
But why now? Why not three weeks ago? Because I was moving back home, launching this website, telling all my friends about my decision, settling back in, accepting that things simply didn’t work out and that’s okay. It’s also coming up to the end of semester one. Whilst things may improve for some, and lots of people will return for semester two, I wanted to write a post that will hopefully reassure anyone who really doesn’t want to be in university. Dropping out doesn’t make you a failure.
My main piece of advice when friends talk to me about their problems is ‘do what’s best for you and do more of what makes you happy’. How could I be telling other people this when staying in university was making me unhappy? Pushing yourself beyond your limits is one thing, but I’m not going to make myself unhappy doing it. Also, it’s a lot of money to be paying for something I wasn’t full-heartedly enjoying.
I want to say thank you to the people in my life that have helped and supported me in anyway, whether it be ever or with this decision, whether it be a big or small thing, I appreciate you so much. If you’re not mentioned in this post but have been there for me, do not think I have forgotten what you have done for me or think that I am not grateful. You are all very loved. Thank you.
If this post helps one person, it was worth writing.
If you have any questions please feel free to email or tweet me, or even comment down below.
(Photo credit: Rebecca for the first photograph in this post)