I’m almost at the end of my undergrad degree – all coursework and exams are finished, now it’s just a matter of time until results are released and I get to graduate. When I decided to do this as a mature age student, 4 years ago, I had no idea what I was in for.
I look back on how I thought and felt over the years, particularly the earlier years, and in hindsight, I can see that I was arrogant. Yes, I expected to learn new concepts, but I didn’t expect to change as a person. I thought at the age of 27 I was a very well developed person. I had a career, a house, and a husband. But I didn’t have confidence in myself, and I didn’t have direction.
Since studying, I have so much conviction in what I think and do, and a clear purpose in life. Not just when it comes to psychology, but even things like health and fitness, and continuing to try new things and grow. I’ve come to accept that I experience a certain level of fear and uncertainty, but that when I push through, I can do incredible things. Like public speaking, train and develop large rooms of semi-strangers, and go out of my comfort zone to do new activities like boxing and capoeira.
I still have moments of self-doubt, but the more examples I have of overcoming these, the easier it gets. So as I’m approaching the end, I feel a sense of joy and excitement. I’m happy in the knowledge that I made it. I survived, and not only that, I exceeded all of my expectations.
To be honest, I never imagined I would have the opportunity to go to uni, let alone do so well. I’ve lived out of home since I was about 18-19 and learned the hard way that you can’t count on people to help you in life, not even family. It’s really up to you to succeed. Despite this cynical mentality (and the barriers I’ve put up as a result), I’ve had support from multiple people and honestly couldn’t have achieved this without them.
First up, my best friend Ness, who somehow manages to know my most secret and strongest wishes, never once stopped asking me why I wouldn’t consider studying psychology. She had faith in me when I needed it most.
Secondly, and to my ongoing surprise, I’ve had a series of amazingly supportive managers. Because of them, I’ve not only managed to keep working productively, but I’ve grown, developed in the role and had some incredible opportunities over the years. And because of them, I am always truly happy to work there, even though it hasn’t always been related to my degree.
Along the way, I kept myself separate of the other uni students. I just didn’t feel like I had much in common with them, being an adult and having all the responsibilities that come along with that. But to my surprise, I found some genuinely lovely people who had the same drive to succeed as I do. I also encountered some inspirational and motivating lecturers and tutors, who kept my interest alive.
And finally, I can’t put into words the amount of support I’ve received from my husband…but I’ll try. He has been there for me every single step of the way. Early mornings, late nights, deadlines, cancelling social events, cramming for exams, tears over grades, outrage over perceived unfairness, he’s been there for it all and hasn’t complained once. I went from providing a full time income to 40-60% of my salary, and he did not mind in the slightest. Partway through my 2nd year I floated the idea of applying for honours (so… not returning to full-time work anytime soon) and he’s backed me 100%. I don’t know how I got so lucky, but I do know that that’s what love is – being completely and utterly invested in the success of another person. Along with him, comes his family. More people to talk to and share this journey with.
So yeah, I used to think I had to do everything by myself but somehow, somewhere, I found some incredible people to help me.