Life · Studies

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

This is not quite the post I wanted to publish this week; the one I am currently working on is about my extended weekend in Stoke-on-Trent visiting my best friend from university, but since I’m having trouble remembering the chronology of the trip and keep forgetting to ask, I thought I’d write another post in the meantime.

Since I’ve come back to university from the Easter break I’ve been swamped with exam stress, but, when I have the time, I’ve also been reflecting on my current predicaments (and shamelessly checking my countdown app widget for my return to Jersey). Some of those closest to me will know that this year has been hard for me; between my depression, apathy towards university and relationships formed here, and a constant want to drop out, I’ve been run down and struggling with the motivation to get through the year. It’s hard to admit to those who ask that I am not having ‘the best years of my life’ and that I dream of the day I graduate, but I’ve come to accept my situation because, frankly, I’m stuck in it.

In my first blog post, 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Uni, I mentioned that the only reason that I had not already dropped out was because of my parents and this remains the case. No matter how much I hate my current situation, I know that if I left I would hate knowing that I quit halfway through my degree after all the money my parents have worked so hard and sacrificed so much to pay (since I am a Channel Islands student, I am not eligible to apply for a Student Loan and I only receive a small grant from the States of Jersey) even more than if I had stayed. Not only that, my mum has always been academically inclined but because she came from an extremely poor family she never had the opportunity to go to university to get an undergraduate degree. She has since studied around a degree to get to where she is today, but both her and I know that if she had had the initial opportunity to go to university she would have saved herself so many years of studying part-time to obtain equivalent qualifications, which is why I think she wants me to stay at uni.

I do see where my mum is coming from and, to be honest, I agree with her; in the modern world, having a degree is a requirement of many jobs, regardless of the subject, unless I were looking to specialise to become a doctor, nurse, scientist or lawyer (none of which have ever appealed to me). Apart from the general benefits of a degree, my specific course gives me such a broad overview of, well, everything, that I will have knowledge of a range of disciplines and topics by the time I graduate. I am not kidding when I say that, so far, everything from biology to philosophy has come up in one way or another in my degree.

Despite knowing the benefits of the degree I’m working towards, I feel like I am between a rock and a hard place. As I explained, being at university is doing nothing to help my mental health, and is in fact deteriorating it. Like I told one of my closest friends at uni, I’m not in the right headspace to continue cultivating those uni friendships that have had a lasting impression on me, despite not wanting to lose said friends, and the stress of exams have led me to become less patient and more apathetic. I feel the effectiveness of the anti-depressants I am taking waning somewhat and it takes a little more effort for me to get through each day, especially now that I do not have any lectures or seminars and therefore have little reason to leave the house. But like I said, I couldn’t live with the decision to drop out.

I don’t usually talk about how I feel with those I usually confide in because I feel like there is little benefit of ‘getting it off my chest’ – in Portuguese there is a perfect verb for this act, desabafar, which the Collins online dictionary tells me is the equivalent of ‘to give vent to’ or ‘to unburden oneself’. There is little benefit because it is a situation that I cannot get out of, for the motives you have just read, and repeatedly talking about it is boring, frustrating and useless to me and those I would talk to.

In the days leading up to my return to Nottingham, I would end time with both my mum and boyfriend with the phrase ‘I don’t want to go back’ – clearly, back to university. At the time it was my despair letting itself be known and my fragile state of mind wanting to be comforted, but since returning I realise that it ruined the mood of my last few minutes with whoever I was saying it to each time and I was selfish for creating that mood. I haven’t even apologised for my words, something which I had not previously thought about doing but will nevertheless do as soon as I have posted this.

At the end of the day, this is not an eternal situation and I know that when I look back in a few years I will be grateful to have struggled through it. While I am currently between a rock and a hard place, I know that I have enough strength to shimmy my way to the light at the end of my metaphorical tunnel and that I will make my parents proud when I finally get there.

[Disclaimer: the featured image of this post is one of my GCSE Art final pieces, created from a photo I took of myself for the project]

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6 thoughts on “Between a Rock and a Hard Place

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