university: one year later.

Hello; I hope you're settled in comfortably because there's a chatty, slightly emotional post ahead as today marks the one year anniversary of me finishing the whirlwind that was my undergraduate degree!

This time last year I was in the final rehearsals of my last university performance - ready to take to the stage (or technically the floor..) later that evening.  I was waiting on three grades - one of which belonged to the performance I was about to start, but apart from endlessly refreshing the feedback page I was officially done with university. I was free, I was floating and I was totally freaked out.  In the words of Phoebe Buffay: I didn't have a pla.  I barely had a P.  What I did have was a mile long list of things I wanted to do and a desperate desire to run far away from education and never look back.

Fast forward to today and although I am still lost and floating I also have the faint semblance of a pla.  A pla that involves going back to university and doing a masters which is exactly what I said I wouldn't do but hey - you live, you learn, you change your mind seven different times! Or is that just me?

So what changed? Honestly everything and nothing at the same time.  The course I'll be starting in September is a Creative Writing one and a quick glance through the posts I've uploaded over the past few years will show that writing and telling stories has always been something I've loved; I just never realised how much, never really thought about it seriously until I had the time to do so.  I have this issue where I tend to get complete tunnel-vision focus on one thing and for three years that one thing was just 'get through this course.'  A lot of my friends had various ideas and tentative post-uni plans but I didn't have the energy or the inclination to spend time thinking seriously until I was out and free.  I am incredibly lucky that I have the family situation that allowed me to do this; that my mum welcomed me home with open arms (and an open garage for all my stuff) and I do know that without that support I don't know where I'd be.  Having the knowledge that I was coming home at the end of the academic year gave me the freedom to not be consumed by that post university worry; it still happened, of course it did, but it wasn't as overwhelming. I was able to take my time, refocus my thoughts and just breathe for the first time in months.

Now I am aware that taking a year out between various courses isn't exactly groundbreaking but for me personally it's made all the difference.  I left university pretty much dead; I felt like I needed a solid six months of sleep to even begin recovering from the amount of stress I'd been swimming through all year and if I'm totally honest it was stress that had been there since the beginning.  My very first full day on campus included two panic attacks, attempting to plan a route home at 3am and so many tears I'm surprised my bed didn't start floating.  And that pretty much sums up my feelings about the majority of the three years. Things definitely did get better, I made some of the best friends I'll ever know and I can't say I regret going or staying but honestly university was a little bit of a shitstorm for me.

Okay - confession time: you know in those 'future decisions' talks they gave us when we were 16 about what to do and what not to do?  Well I essentially did everything they said not to.  I decided I wanted to go to university because I didn't know what else to do, I picked a course that I wasn't 100% sold on and as a result I struggled and stressed and full-on freaked out for three solid years.  But I got through it.  I came out with a 2.1, the greatest people I will ever meet and a whole heap of confidence.  I truly learned where my limits are, that clubbing is most definitely not for me and that mojito's definitely are (yum.)  I rediscovered my love for writing, found new passions and abandoned old ones.  No I wouldn't recommend ignoring all the advice people give you but at the same time if I hadn't followed that specific path I wouldn't be where I am now and to be honest that's a pretty great place.

This time last year I was feeling every emotion at once like some kind of feelings hurricane - all just swirling around.  This time today I feel calm, happy, a very late sense of pride.  I never posted a graduation reflection post like I was intending to do because it was all still too fresh; I hadn't actually done any reflecting at all.  It takes time for me to process things, to see the light and follow it home but that's okay. Yes I'm still anxious over silly things, I'm still mostly floating and a tiny bit freaked out but I'm doing better than I ever was.  I have a pla and although that pesky little N is still nowhere to be seen I'm starting to realise that that's okay.  I don't need to have my entire life planned out at the age of 22; I can try things and realise ''oops that doesn't work for me" (or maybe sometimes "yes this is good") and it's all okay. 

It's more than okay.  I'm more than okay.  It took me a good three months out of university to start feeling that way (for various reasons) but I am now.  I have options and the ability to take my time.  I have the luxury of a years perspective behind me - I can see more positives now than I could then and I can also see why the negatives felt so overwhelmingly huge at the time.  Looking back there are things I would have differently, of course there are, but there are also a much larger number of things that I would keep exactly the same because all of them added up together made my university experience what it was.  Yes it was messy and stressy and just a little bit aaaaarrrrrgghhh but it was my uni experience.  It sounds cheesy and it is but it shaped me.  Without everything that happened I wouldn't know that I can deal with things; that I can walk through total darkness and still come out the other side.  I wouldn't know that I can be more than okay. That I am more than okay.  That I'm good.  I'm free and floating, sometimes lost, sometimes not so lost and I'm doing good.

eloise x

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