When people realise that I don't have a University qualification, because I didn't go, they jump to conclusions. They think I'm not intelligent enough to do a degree. I see them pull their shoulders back in an 'I'm superior to you' stance. They figure that I just strolled my way through my studies, not giving a monkey's if I passed or not.
I then have to go through my explanation of why I didn't go and why I'm so happy that I didn'tgo. It has nothing to do with a lack of intellect...at all.
Yesterday, I watched the news showing many, many snippets of students eagerly, nervously clutching the envelope bearing the results of their 'A'-Level results. Each student hoping upon hope that they would get the grades they need to gain access to the university of their choice- a university that would lead them down the road to their chosen career, where they would flourish and thrive as a Doctor/Lawyer/Business Tycoon.
All of the students had high, high hopes and excitement of their future.
I was one of those students once, hanging on to that envelope. But for me I was terrified to open it.
I wasn't caught in the excitement of leaving home. Leaving my family. Leaving my friends.
I didn't want to go. At all.
As a home body, I would have rather stayed at home and attended the local university.
Why didn't I?
Because I wanted to write. I wanted to go into copyrighting, editing, magazine writing etc. but unfortunately for me, my local university didn't offer anything that remotely covered that.
I would have to go further afield. Lancaster and York were the places I was targeted for.
As my pals excitedly ripped their envelopes open and screeched with delight "I got in! I got in!" we all jumped around and hugged and I grinned like an idiot for them. My heart plummeted. This was not me.
I had worked so hard during my studies. I had really enjoyed the subjects I'd read. But I was simply not ready for this next step.
I could hear those kids with the mobile phones (the posh, rich ones at the time!) telling 'mummy' and 'daddy' of their marvellous intellect, how it had been a walk in the park and that now, they were going to 'uni'.
I snuck away, sticking my unopened envelope into my bag, ramming it right to the bottom and waited for the bus, hoping it would get to me before the hoards of squealers did.
When I got home, I opened my envelope while my mam and dad were there.
I got the grades
I got into university.
After much ahh-ing and tea and chocolate and great big sob sniffles. My mam and dad had a good old chuckle at me.
"Dear me, girl! You don't have to go! It's not compulsory! Don't be so silly!" Mam huggles me and bestowed a box of tissues on me.
When I explained that I just didn't know what I wanted, that I really wanted to go in the direction of writing, but didn't want to leave home, we all agreed that a year out would be a really good decision, then I could reassess, and see how I felt, being another year older, and inevitably wiser.
Sighing with relief, I decided to get a job and see how it went.
Ironically, I began work at the local university. I loved it and it felt great making the new students', who were away from home, feel comfortable.
As the year went by, my dad's health deteriorated. I postponed my going to university again, and maintained my job, while doing hospital visits with my mam and dad.
As the years went by, I stayed in this situation. It was fine (other than my dad's health) and I was happy (and envied by my friends') earning money.
Some friends dropped out of university, devastated that their hopes and dreams were shattered.
Some friends are still studying (and probably will be to the end of their days!)
My dad passed away.
If I had gone to university, my course would have lasted 4 years. I would have left university and I would have only had 10 months with my dad before he died.
My decision not to go meant I had every day with my dad. I have all of those memories, which I wouldn't have had if I had gone away.
I haven't missed university at all and I'm right where I want to be in life: I write, I edit and I'm happy.
Sometimes things happen for a reason!