After I left school in 2010 and didn’t head off to university like most of my peers, I was always under the impression that I’d missed my chance at going on to study for a degree at university.
I didn’t succeed as much as I’d like at high school. My grades weren’t bad, but they weren’t up to scratch for what most universities were looking for. These grades mostly stemmed from problems with anxiety and multiple learning difficulties (which I was supported with!) that I’d struggled with since my final years of primary school.
For nearly half a decade I settled into the status quo of working life. I worked two jobs in administration before becoming tired of the daily grind and subsequently went back to college to pick up some more Highers.
Again, I didn’t succeed as well as I’d have liked, but I did come away from it with a decent grade in English (one of my favourite subjects). It still wasn’t enough to get me into university however, so at that point I decided it was probably time to hang up my ambitions.
I did a lot of writing in my free time (mostly to do with film, games and other media) as a fun hobby. It was something I immensely enjoyed but, despite applying for jobs in that field, I was never successful in being selected for interviews due to being “under qualified”.
After six years working in retail, at the start of 2019 I once again decided to go back to college after seeing an interesting course involving media and communication that resonated with me. It was scary and daunting to begin with, but I spent that whole year at college pouring my heart and soul into all of my work in an effort to show what I was truly capable of – that even though I’d struggled before I was certainly capable of great things.
Then, UCAS application season arrived. To say I was unbelievably stressed about it was an understatement after the failures from the past.
I spent a lot of time deciding whether university would truly be the right choice for me. Coming from a distinctly working class background (with heavy ties to military service in the army and the navy) nobody in my family had ever been inclined to go to university before.
A lot of questions and doubts swirled around my mind.
“I’m 27. Surely it’s too late for me?”
“You’ll stick out like a sore thumb!”
“It’ll be too much for you to handle!”
But, thankfully, it was after an insightful meeting with my lecturer at the time I realised that there was no reason to doubt myself. She told me one thing that has stuck with me over the last few months.
“Age is irrelevant. You have too much to offer the world to let this opportunity pass you by. Seize the moment and don’t regret it.”
That was the moment of acceptance for me.
That even though it might seem scary, it’s never too late to follow your ambitions and your dreams. That the idea that you need to have succeeded at certain things by a predefined point in your life was both wrong and irrelevant. That just because of my family history, I wasn’t tied to a single distinct career path. That I was able to break the conventional “rules” in a sense.
I’m glad that I’ve taken the leap of faith. I just hope many others who are on the fence decide to do the same in the future as well.