Why I Didn’t Go to Uni
It should have been the start to a new life
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?
But if I don’t go to University, what does that mean? My entire life I’ve planned on this eventuality, I don’t have a ‘Plan B.’ Maybe I get a job? But without a Uni degree I’d only be able to get minimum wage for long hours at a place I don’t even like. There is the possibility for taking up an apprenticeship but I’ve always been an academic, I’m not suited to manual labour, I couldn’t even drag myself to my mandatory P.E. Lessons. It was a huge conundrum, that I only had a few short months to figure out, applying to uni has a deadline, in that time I have to figure out all these things? I looked to my friends for help at first, but they were all set on Uni, they had their plans and hadn’t stumbled at any of my hurdles. They had no way of helping because they had no way of understanding. I decided to start talking to my S.O. seriously about this issue, maybe they could lend some unique insight as they had left school at 16 to start working as an apprentice, never thinking about going to uni. This discussion lead to both of us expressing our deep dissatisfaction at life as we knew it. Nothing felt right for us, paying rent, going to work/school, buying groceries. We had taken separate routes but we were both unhappy.
Well that’s not great for me, Uni, or get Job, both have suddenly become terrible choices that lead to a continuation of an already unhappy lifestyle. My world imploded. It felt like not living up to this imaginary expectation of needing at least a Uni degree to be successful was going to be the end of me. That mindset is so unbelievably toxic. All you actually need to be successful is to be happy, and to ensure others are happy. The only path I needed to follow was the one inside my heart. The map to my happiness that I had been ignoring in the pursuit of power and living up to society’s expectation of what it means to be a successful young person in the modern era. So I decided not to go to Uni, the stress of answering those questions lead to a severe deterioration of my mental health. What I decided to do instead was to follow the things that made me happy, to live actively. I’m no longer worrying about an uncertain future, but I’m instead ensuring myself of a happy and healthy now. Everything will work out as long as I work at it. If I ever find the answer to those questions I can go to uni, it’s never too late to start my quest for further education. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and my name isn’t Willow for nothing.