“Why are you going back to university? What does that get you?”
I’ll be honest when people ask me this question, I do draw a bit of a blank. After three years out of the bubble that university creates, why would I go back? Instead of being concerned with getting certain grades and impressing people who have never left the academic realm, I have become more concerned with making enough money to survive, dealing with people who just don’t get me (which is fine because we can’t like everyone) and getting a ‘normal’ job.
Here’s the thing though: I don’t fit.
I am very much a square peg being shoved haphazardly at a circular hole and I have never fit. I may have looked like I fit from the outside but trust me, a bit of glue and paint can make anything look right.
From an external perspective, I graduated with a degree, I had an adult-appropriate job, I was earning more money than a part-time job had ever given me and I got engaged. That’s at least 4 of the tick boxes of being an adult.
At the same time, I was stressed, I changed jobs 4 times in 3 years and I still can’t drive (I’m getting there I promise maybe 4th time’s a charm). Unlike my academic career, my attempt at being an adult has been average. However I have learned more about myself in the 3 years after graduating than I did in the 4 years studying my undergraduate:
I have learned I am a represser and I repress anything uncomfortable or traumatic; I have learned that I don’t know when I’m stressed even when my body is shouting at me to stop for just one second; I have learned that I have deeply unhealthy coping mechanisms and I have never felt proud of any of my achievements.
It’s not all bad though.
I’ve learned I’m a social person, I enjoy listening to people, I have met people both young and old who has restored my ability to be positive, I have met some of the kindest people to ever exist, I have learned to trust my instincts and I have most importantly learned that I have a voice.
I have learned that what I think is important and I should be able to control my path in life.
It is not the job of my parents, or my family, or family friends, or friends, or acquaintances to make me feel like I should be doing something.
I have learned that just because someone expects something from me, it doesn’t mean I should give it to them.
I guess that’s why I’m going back to university, even though I’ve applied nearly every year since graduating (and got in every time but I haven’t went). This time, it feels right.
Instead of applying for a course because it seems like the right thing to do, or it’s convenient, or because it would make someone else proud of me, or because it would enable me in future to earn a lot of money, I’m going back to university to do something that I am passionate about and I have the potential to make it work as a career.
It is not what everyone else would pick for me, and it’s supposedly not a guaranteed job – but I’ve found no job really is guaranteed. Even people in sustainable and reliable professions can be laid off. Even doctors can have practices fail or become no longer fit to do that job. Nothing in life is guaranteed.
You can point at the odds of anything and say this looks too hard. I have just decided to stop looking at the odds and just go with my gut.
That’s why in September, I will be starting an MLitt in Creative Writing. After applying to art school and failing to get in, it was like the stars aligned and the course I had wanted to do upon graduation was now a viable option.
I love words. I have always loved words. I have dreamt in stories and fantasies. I have spent entire weekends obsessing over my newest books. I have read full 500 page books in one sitting. I love writing. I devour stories whole.
What confirmed it?
Since applying to do creative writing and receiving my offer, I have done nothing but write.
And to anyone who has never understood why some people are so obsessed with pursuing a passion, let me explain it simply.
I cannot be without what I do. It is not separate to me. It is part of who I am. I write because I think. That’s it. To me, writing and reading are the same as needing to eat or exercise. Without it, life is bland and boring.
I breathe therefore I think therefore I write.
If you removed writing, I would be empty. That’s really the only simple way to explain having a passion. Without it, you are lost. If you don’t have one, that’s fine but don’t criticise those who do.
I am going back to university not as a knee-jerk reaction to my life but as the only thing that makes sense right now. I am both excited and nervous – a tense combination at the best of times. I know that this is the only right thing to do.
Thanks for reading x