Think of the most nerve-racking moment you’ve ever experienced, and forget it. Applying to University is by far the most stressful process I’ve ever had to endure and unfortunately for me, it’s far from over.
It became increasingly clear to me towards the end of my first year at sixth form that I would be doing a third year of A Levels. I had to give up doing Graphics but that’s what I would need to get into University. At first I didn’t mind the idea, I would already be doing a six year sentence at the school, what difference would another year make? Now I’m halfway through my third year and although I’m so so excited for the future, I can’t help but take a moment to remember the times that I almost gave up on my life-long dream of gaining a degree in Interior Design.
On August 13th 2015, I received my AS Level results graded BCE. That year I had spent a good few months in hospital and so for me, any set of grades was amazing. I was proud of myself for getting a B in English Language and extremely surprised that I received a C in Business. As for the E – I honestly didn’t mind it being a low grade because I hated History and had no plans to carry it through to my second year. That probably isn’t the best attitude to promote but I’m being honest – sometimes you just don’t care.
My second year started off great and then just went completely down-mountain. A hill is nowhere near big enough to explain how far I fell. After being finally diagnosed with a condition called Dissociative Seizures, I couldn’t help but blame myself for failing. A lot of people have never even heard of the condition, which to be honest probably explains why it took about four doctors and a heavy six year struggle for them to finally figure out what was wrong with me. I’d like to point out that around four months previous to my official diagnosis, I’d researched my symptoms and already self diagnosed myself – who needs a medical degree right? But still, hearing it loud and clear for the first time was shocking and quite frankly – hard to accept. You see, dissociation is a way for the body to cope with an emotional response that it cannot process in a normal format. Confusing, I know. Essentially, instead of crying, laughing or screaming, the body resorts to seizures as a way to release the adrenaline created by an emotional situation. The condition is more commonly recognised through the term ‘Pseudo-seizures’, but this pretty much screams the word “fake” to anyone who hears it and I’m telling you now – ask any specialist and they’ll tell you that Dissociative Seizures are far from f a k e. The hardest part was when they told me it could be controlled through CBS (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) which is pretty much ‘deep counselling’. It made me so angry.
It’s pretty much a mental health condition – I’m officially crazy. It’s all in my head – I could have stopped this before it even started – I wouldn’t of had to spend the past six years going through absolute hell – I could’ve achieved better grades – I wouldn’t have to stay a third year.
I now know that I couldn’t have done any more than what I did, none of it was my fault. Dissociation is a real problem that affects real people and it bloody sucks.
After the social trauma that I went through at the beginning of 2016, the thought of having to stay in Sixth Form any longer made me feel physically sick. I reached the point of giving up on the idea of University and my dream to become an Interior Designer if it meant I would have to stay in that place for a minute more. So I made myself a deal. *If you manage to get at least a C in Graphics, you’ll stay a third year, get your Graphics A Level and then go to Uni.*
I didn’t get my Graphics AS Level. I had failed, again. And after everything that had happened that year, I kind of hoped that I would magically receive a good grade as a reward for enduring the idiocy of the human race. If only life worked that way. I cried a
little lot. I was just so disappointed in myself and I honestly felt like I had nothing to my name. So much had been taken away from me already that year, and I couldn’t help but feel like this was another thing that had been ripped away from me. And well, the A Level results day of 2016 was the day that I learned my biggest lesson – you are in control.
I realised that staying a third year was my ticket out of here, the stepping stone to a fresh start, a way to move on. No one was going to be at sixth form when I went back so I could dedicate a whole year to getting the grades that I know I deserve. However, as you may have read in one of my previous posts, my hellish year didn’t magically stop in September. To this day I still struggle going into sixth form sometimes. I walk around and all I see are the spots in the common room where my seizures have caused me a great deal of public embarrassment, the window ledge where I sat and cried to my sister over the phone, the toilets where I would hide to get away from everyone, and the god damn classroom where it all started. But then I smile, because how lucky am I to have an entire school year dedicated to one subject, an entire year dedicated to making the next step into my dream career. Oh so lucky. Anyway, let’s just say that as 2016 was coming to a close, I was giving up. I’ve refused to admit it until now because I’ve felt embarrassed and weak. But the truth is that so much had happened to me and the only thing I wanted to do was run far far away from any memory of the 18 years I’d already been alive. I reached a point where I didn’t care whether I succeeded or failed, I was kidding myself believing that I could be anything more than the worthless piece of ugly that I supposedly was. So I decided to binge on multiple Netflix series and give up. A little glimpse of hope returned to me around my birthday, but yeah lol let’s move on from that.
After being completely torn to pieces for yet another time, 22 days passed and January 1st came around. The first thing this year was smile, because I’d made it. 2016 was officially over and despite all of the pain, heartbreak and tears, I was ok. And then I remembered – I was in control.
I had fourteen days to complete my University application, and so I spent the next two weeks annoying my teachers with constant redrafts of my personal statement whilst watching multiple YouTube videos on ‘The Top 10 Things To Remember When Applying To University’. I stuck on a bit of Kelly Clarkson and told myself that the only way I could be better was to do better.
My 5 Top Tips for Writing Your Personal Statement
- It’s meant to be PERSONAL – tell your story and don’t be generic. Pick a moment from your life so far that has really inspired you to achieve.
- Ask yourself if you’re really that passionate about the subject you’ve chosen – Don’t waste your time trying to convince yourself that this is what you want to do, Universities can tell and it’s a waste of both theirs and your time.
- Don’t worry about asking for help – Obviously don’t plagiarise because if you do that, well you’re just an idiot really. But if you’re worried about your grammar or whatever, grab a teacher or even a friend. They’ll always be willing to help so don’t be afraid to ask.
- Only get one opinion at a time – It’s a great idea to get multiple people to have a look at your statement, but don’t send it to them all at once. Choose one person and once they’ve reached a dead end on the advice they can offer, then send it to the next. Having everyone trying to help you at once can become confusing and stressful. It’s also ok if they offer you contradicting views on what you should or shouldn’t say – this is the part where you get to choose what you think is best.
- It will never be perfect – I still read mine back now and think why on EARTH did I think that was a good thing to say? But at the end of the day, it doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to be enough. So don’t stress, have a cup of tea and take your time.
So here I am. I’ve been to four interviews, received two on-the-spot offers and come to a conclusion about where I’d prefer to go. I’m about to apply for my loans and accommodation and oh my is it all becoming so real. It’s crazy to think that three months ago, I’d given up on all hope of ever becoming an Interior Designer. But now, in six months time, I’ll be starting the rest of my life. I’m so so excited. Whether I receive anymore offers or not, I will 100% be leaving to begin a whole new adventure.
We all have our reasons for wanting to go to University, and I personally think they all go deeper than just ‘wanting a degree’. But whatever your reason is, hold onto it. Use it as a foundation to achieve the things you need to in order to get the place you deserve. Let it be the structure of your smile and the strength of your handshake. And no matter what you do, don’t believe anyone when they say you can’t.