All my life I’ve been marked out as different from others, starting with my less than common name. In primary school I was the ‘weird’ kid, the ‘away with the fairies’ and does she ‘~still~ believe in Santa’ kid. As I begun to hit puberty I was quirky. I ‘wasn’t like other girls’, I was the loner for much of that time as well. I was once described as a question mark and the implications of what that means plagues me to this day, although for them it was an offhand remark. And as I begin to come into my own as an adult it springs up again, I have differing political beliefs, I live in a van, I’m continuing to not do the things that the people around me have been doing. But just as those who are painted to be ‘just like the rest’ are searching to be different, I am always hyperaware of the ways in which I am really just like everyone else. I choose to adhere to conventional beauty archetypes in the way I shape my brows, do my makeup and style my hair. I like to gossip about the mundane with my peers and I want to be a part of a community.
When I was asked about where I saw myself in 5, 10 years time, a younger me would diligently answer ‘at university obviously!’ Higher education seemed like the only obvious course of action for a ‘gifted’ child such as myself. I always enjoyed academic success and therefore, to those around me, and even to myself, this could be the only sensible answer. However as I aged, and the future prospect of university suddenly changed into the present, preparing for university, reality set in. University was no longer some vague goal to waive away any actual foresight, decisions were to be made. What did I actually want to study? Where did I want to study? How much was this all going to cost? I had, and still have no idea what the answers to those questions are, and as my peers easily sailed through them it became increasingly obvious that my lifelong path was about to be derailed. I had some serious self evaluating to do. First, was the ‘where’ problem. I come from an island, there are no universities here so I must move away from my home wherever I was to go on the mainland. Second, was the ‘what’ problem. What was I actually going to study? It was no issue finding things I’d be good at, but finding things I’d enjoy? I was a teenager, I enjoyed sleeping more than any of my studies, I’d never taken a really serious interest in any subject and now I had to decide one to dedicate the next three to four years of my life to, at least? And finally, came the ‘how’ problem. How was I going to afford it? University is a massive financial burden to take on, I’d have to take out loans, and I don’t have a great relationship with my parents so I wouldn’t be able to rely on them for any support. So why should I take a financial gamble on a course I’m not sure I’m interested in, while having to live in a city I’ve never been too?