While I was still in high school, prepping to complete my A-Levels, I was eager to put an end to that chapter and start writing the next one. I was excited for new beginnings and study a subject that I would be a hundred percent passionate about, and to ‘meet the world’ as I wrote in one of my diary entries.
Unfortunately, I was not accepted on the student list of the very selective conjoint degree I was willing to pursue. This left me with a bitter feeling. Still, I accepted the challenge that life had put my way and entered university, hoping that it would turn out to be the right thing for me. The first few weeks were interesting, though not compelling as I’d wish. Then, I slightly started giving in, skipping classes and avoiding the workload. At the same time, I was not getting used to the new environment I was in. My shyness kept hindering me from getting to know my classmates. I was feeling weird, as I’d always had, and like I didn’t belong. But then again, I had also felt this way in high school. And I had felt this way almost everywhere I’d gone. At the end of the first semester, failing my exams, I decided to change my course to study something I knew would rivet me: English. Obviously, classes such as civilization were enthralling, whilst grammar, on the other hand, seemed ludicrous.
A new location and new acquaintances, despite my honorable grades in literature, soon made me give in once again. I started skipping classes again. I was feeling ridiculous, hiding to find a place to eat on my own to the point of eating in the bathroom a few times. I kept on telling myself that I would never fit in at university. Thus, I ended up persuading myself and my family that I didn’t belong at university. My lame explanations were that I just wanted to start studying genuine journalism immediately.
And so, I dropped out after my first year at university.
Despite my family’s disapproval and lack of understanding, I chose to follow my instinct. I did as my heart told me to and this has been the best thing I have ever done. Unlike many tend to think, I’m not giving up studying. I will go back to my studies eventually. I’ve always been fond of listening to lectures, writing essays and reading textbooks. And, at the moment, I do miss doing all of these activities.
Looking back at this first year at university, I’ve come to realize that the reason for my failing may not be that ‘university doesn’t fit my needs’, but perhaps it just wasn’t the right time for me to enter it. Deep down, I am well aware of the fact that I’m not as mature as I like to think of myself. Unlike in the States, gap years are not extremely well thought of here in France, if even talked about. That’s why during senior high, I never ever thought of it. I was made to believe that the only path after high school was higher education. But whether it is at a human level or regards studying, university does require a certain maturity. And there’s nothing wrong in not being ready. Because truth is, as much as it fascinates me, I wasn’t ready to enter these great, wide world.
Society has also made me to believe that coming back at university at twenty (yeah, only twenty!) was not normal, that there was something wrong in it. It’s made me to believe that repeating a year was a bad thing. But none of this is abnormal. Every path in life is different, the same way that every individual is unique, and there’s nothing wrong in being different, in doing different.
There are so many misconceptions about dropping out of university. People who adore studying may drop out too and straight-A’s students are no exception. Dropping out doesn’t mean not going back to it, neither does it mean that you’re going to spend the year doing nothing. In fact, there are many alternatives, such as travelling, getting your very first job or even moving abroad. And, above all, it certainly doesn’t mean that you’ve failed.
Therefore, you must keep faith in yourself. Believe that what you do, no matter where it leads you, is always a good choice. Be it right or wrong to the eyes of your close ones, listen to your heart. Merely by following your instinct and with a bit of rationality, you’re making the right call.
On my last day of senior high, my history teacher asked me what I would be doing the following year. After telling her about my disappointment of being on the rejected list for the much-touted conjoint degree I had applied to, she added something like: ‘Sometimes life has a way of not giving us what we want so that it keeps the best for us.’
That’s what I choose to remember from this experience, because after all I have still learned a lot from it. And perhaps I’ll even be going back there next year. Who knows?