Saturday, 24 January 2015

Why I've Decided to Drop Out of Uni

At the start of this academic year, my final year of Uni, I decided to start a little project. 

After three years of being pretty much the worst academic nightmare known to this University, to try and keep myself motivated til the end, I decided to keep a photographic timeline of a final year student, by taking one selfie (of undoubted despair) during the midst of my assignments, and one selfie (of undoubted relief) after finally completing and submitting each one.

In my head, I thought perhaps I could collate these images into a whimsical but profound insight into what it's actually like to endure the final stages of a degree, and perhaps I could make it into some kind of empowering, motivating article at a later date.

Little did I know, however, that it would have the complete opposite effect on me. 

Because half way through only my second assignment of term, when I found myself howling in a helpless heap on my bedroom floor clutching my prescription for strong anti-depressants in one hand and a 5000-word, due in for the next day, assignment brief in the other, I had to ask myself some serious fucking questions as to why I was voluntarily paying £9,000 a year to subject myself to this. 

Four months and a whole chronology of trials, tribulations and tears later, at the start of my final semester in my final year of Uni, I have decided to drop out. 

I can hear it already. 

That exact same chorus of 'WHAT?!'s,  'No, you can't do that!s' and 'Don't be so ridiculous!'s I always get whenever I elect to tell someone this is the decision I have come to. 

Let's forget for a moment, that through near four years of aggro, I've failed this, picked up that, re-done that and done extra that so my academic transcript is absolute shitstate mess. Let's forget I'm doing a creative degree with no real graduate benefits at the most averagely pointless of all universities in the country with zero notable alumni. Let's forget that the only way I would *actually* be liberated from this timber-clad prison in May is to complete the five standard modules, plus one re-take from last year, plus my Deferrals from last semester, making a grand total of 9 modules in 5 months - over a year's worth of class in one go despite the fact I failed those previous classes due to a serious mental health condition stemming from stress and overwhelm.  

Because despite them all being true, there's one set of people in particular who would regard this as nothing but pitiful excuses I'd conjure up to detract from the fact I am a failure. 

My parents. 

And so today, I sat down with a blank notebook and poured my heart out for hours constructing a letter to them, explaining why I have decided to, and indefinitely will, be dropping out of university.


M o t h e r    &    F a t h e r 
F r o m   t h e   w o m a n   w h o   g r e w   f r o m   t h e   l i t t l e   g i r l   y o u   m a d e

Forgive me for seeming somewhat unqualified for these observations, but although I might not be a parent yet, I am, and always will be, a child. 

You're not meant to turn around and laugh when your child sits you down and tells you they want to be an astronaut. You put a fishbowl over your head, zoom around the garden with them and spend hours in the weekend sunshine with streaks of paint through your hair, building a cardboard rocket ship - Even if by this time next week they've totally forgotten that idea and now have their heart's set on becoming a zookeeper. 

Because that's what kids are - dreamers. And that's what parenting is. 

Don't get me wrong, I know you have been good to me, you have done so much for me, and I know you love, care and worry about me. Believe me, I urge you, when I say how grateful I am for all you have done. That's why you want me to get good grades, get a secure job and be financially safe.  

But what you don't seem to understand is that's not 'happiness' to me. 

Of course I don't want to be impoverished, working several demeaning and unfulfilling jobs just to get by. But the problem is, you see that as being the only alternative to what you want me to do. And that's just not the goddamned case. 

You have always given more weight to your fears that I will screw up and fail, than to your faith and belief that I can do it, that I would find a way to make it work.

You're unable to look past the two hands of fate which hold your 'best laid plans' for me in one hand and your 'worst case scenario' in the other. And not only is your lack of faith in me hurtful, it renders you completely blind to the fact that your 'best laid plans' are my 'worst case scenario.'

You have never held faith in me when I've said I wanted to do something, to be something, that's why in the end I took matters into my own hands and started to make life happen for myself. And do you even understand the frustration which radiates from my bones when I actually achieve something for myself and you turn back to me and say 'I'm so proud, always knew you could do it!'

You don't just love your child when they do something right. You don't feel proud of your kid only when they actually prove themselves. You're meant to be with them the whole time, be the first person to back them and say I know you can do this. I believe in you.

Your crippling need for 'sensible'ness is absolutely suffocating to the point that I could never ever dream of living up to your standards. It's just not what I am made of, and the irony is you should know that because you made me. I will never be your sensible because that world to me is such an extraordinarily agonising level of safety, complacency and immunity that you never live. You never experience or grow - goddamn it how can you ever learn anything if you don't take the risks and make the mistakes to learn from? I will always choose a life of mistakes over a life of consistency and THAT is where we differ. 

There is one term in particular in which you've begun to use a lot lately which I have grown to regard with a passionate loathing. 

'Proper job.' 

The accusatory way you bandy around that poison-lace phrase with callous disregard to the spear of hatred and resentment it strikes through me, only pushes me further and further away from that ever being my reality. And even further from you.

Those two words alone hold so much weight, sodden with years of saturated disappointment, countless memories of discouragement and dripping in resentment at the choices I have made with my life and the fact I am the way that I am. 

Jesus I am 22 years old, if this was just a phase or something you could chase out of me, I think I would have grown out of it by now. And that's the thing I think I've come to realise. Children never really grow out of stuff. They just let a part of themselves die, or be quashed by others. But this fire inside of me will not be extinguished, and is not something that can be remedied with a monthly salary, the chance of a promotion after the first quarter or a fucking pension plan.

But god forbid you should have to inform your friends, neighbours and relatives that your daughter is now a *shudder* drop out. I'd even argue you want me to finish Uni more just so you can tell everyone else that I have, and gloat about having two graduate offspring. What I think and feel is irrelevant. 

Well I'm sorry. It's time you came to understand that I am never going to be that Daughter for you. 


 None of this can hurt me anymore. This is my declaration. I am claiming ownership of my own life now. 

I've turned my mind over endlessly trying to determine whether it is courage or cowardice to back out now, this far in and this 'close' to the end. 

But regardless of academic or mental circumstances, each morning I wake up in the mind that has adopted this situation as reality - like drawing on a tattoo in marker pen every day before committing to the needle - something becomes clearer and clearer to me.

This is the most monumental decision of my entire life - but it's also a test.

Because of course, the easy, safe, secure, sensible, simple option is to stay. You might think it is the opposite, but it's not. 

Because I wouldn't be staying because I want to. 

I'd be staying because my fear is greater than my conviction in myself. I'd be staying because I'm too afraid to face the big, bad world head on. I'd be staying because that's what everyone else is telling me I have to do and that it'd be the biggest mistake of my life to leave, despite the fact I do not believe them one bit. I'd be staying because I believe others' predictions, premonitions and opinions about what's best for me and my life, are more important than my own. I'd be staying because I believe that ever-growing part of me which is crying out so desperately to be heard, is not worth listening to. Staying would be proving that you were right all along. That I'm not good enough, talented enough, determined enough. That I don't deserve the right to do what I want to do with my life.  

Staying would be submitting to fear and letting it own me. 

And to that, I say Fuck You. 

You might not believe in me, and even if no-one else on this damn planet does, I fucking do. 

I will NOT fall into a life of shallow mediocrity and purposelessness because I've just 'ended up that way' from 'doing what everyone else is doing' or from just 'doing what you're supposed to do'.

Leaving now is admitting I'm goddamn terrified, but my determination is stronger than my fear. Leaving now is risking any form of life security, but stating that what I believe in is more important than that. Leaving now is saying passion is more important than passing. Leaving now is saying that being alive and fucking living is more important than just 'getting by'. Leaving now is clambering onto the rooftops and screaming out to the big bad world 'I am ready for whatever you want to throw at me. I will take your most fearsome evils and your darkest regrets, I will take it all, because anything is better than choosing to remain in the darkness for fearing the intensity of the sun. I would rather have that sun burn me up for trying than to grow old, bitter, and pale in the shadows.'

Leaving now, is acknowledging that fear and doing it anyway.

 And to me, that's called bravery. 

And you know, even if this all remains meaningless to you and you're still thinking 'yes it's all well and good having some nice little metaphors, but what about the ~ real life implications ~' Then I'm done here. There's no amount of words I can conjure to convince you otherwise and I wouldn't even want to try.

'Cause you ain't the only stubborn ones. And just as I most probably won't be able to convince you, you'll never ever be able to dissuade me. 

But I can promise you, I can put a goddamned hand on my heart and promise you that I will create the extraordinary. Mark my words. And this is not a promise to try and ease your mind or a peace offering to try and win you over. This is my defining statement, a promise made of fire and brimstone. My final declaration that I refuse not to be everything I want to be. 

I will be successful.

And yeah, seems almost needless to say now that I guess our perceptions of 'successful' are pretty different. Because I couldn't really give a fuck about being rich, getting a great mortgage rate on a sprawling 5-bed in Surrey, or smirking at other people who wish they could afford a car as flash as mine. That's just not what I'm about, and if you think that is, then boy oh boy you really don't know me at all.

To me, the ultimate success is to look around yourself and your life, everything you create and do and are, all the people, places and faces you are surrounded by and to be filled with a soaring sense of joyous bliss so eternal, it borders on the divine.

That's it. Success to me is simply happiness.

So let it be known from this moment onward, that I refuse to chose any path of unhappiness. Never again will I willingly kill a part of myself because others tell me it'll allow me to live better. Because that's sure as hell not a life I'd want to lead anyway. 

I will henceforth be known as Katie Oldham, University dropout and proud. 

And I cannot wait for the day you see my name and remember these words as my testament to living.

And as for the courage or cowardice question?

I think I know my answer. 

Mother, Father, I love you, dear god do I love you,

 But my mind is made. 

 I'm not asking for your permission, your forgiveness, your backing, your money, your blessing, for you to understand me, hell I'm not even asking for you to believe in me anymore. All I'm just asking, is for you to lower your guards, exhale deeply, fold your hands, close your eyes and just nod. 

Because if you love me, if you truly do love me like I love you, you'll grant me this final freedom from your castigation. You'll let me go forth and be the person I so ardently believe and know I was always meant to be. 

And you'll let me go.

Forever your child, and your proud daughter if you'll let me be,

Katie. x


And so there it is. The final curtain on this era in my life. And I tell you what, I could not feel more free, more positive or more optimistic about the future.

And one day in the distant future, when I'm writing what will (obviously)  become my best-selling autobiography, I'll dedicate a whole bloody chapter to this time in my life, and I shall regard it as the moment my life changed forever. The moment I came face to face with the one test that would determine my fate for the rest of my days,

The day I said fuck you to fear, and grabbed life by the goddamn horns.


  1. I'm so proud of you (and majorly in awe of you), Katie ♡
    Although I love academics myself, I 100% believe that it should not be forced upon those who excel in other ways, and it is in no way the only route to success and a fulfilling life.

    1. Thank you so, so much Amy. You're honestly such an inspiration to me too, I perhaps wish I could love academics like you do, I kinda live vicariously through you in an alternate world where I could be good at school! I totally agree that forcing it is the first way to kill that love in a person too. Keep doing what you're doing you amazing girl and thank you x x x

  2. Amazing. I couldn't relate to and agree with all of this more, and I think you're so right and so brave.

    If you're interested, I wrote about dropping out of university to look after my mental health and why I don't regret it:

    Would love to chat to you about how you get on with your decision, and I wish you all the luck in the world, Katie. x

    Rachel | A Little Grey

    1. Also, congratulations. (Because I fucking WISH somebody could have said that to me.)

  3. I completely feel you. I interrupted my studies at Uni just before Christmas so I'm supposed to go back in December, but who knows anymore?! All I know is that we should do what makes us happy, and I think you've made the right decision, well done :)

    Frankie x

  4. I'm so happy for you, I hope you start to feel happier now. Such a brave decision! x

  5. Congrats on your decision and good luck with the future. I dropped out of 6th form, after being a super academic kid at school. Everyone was shocked and told me I was making the biggest mistake of my life. So far I'm doing better than most of the people who told me school was the only way. I live in a new country, doing a job I was born to do and every day feels like a win.

    If you've got the passion to succeed, then you will, even if others don't believe in your image of success. You do you girl!

    1. Wow! What do you do now?

  6. There aren't enough words (especially enough words as amazing as you'd piece them together) that can be written to describe how much I love this post. You are so brave, so admirable- and I know, in my heart of heart that you are going to blow the balls off of everything you do (which, y'know, doesn't sound weird in any way- but you catch my drift). I left university three months in to my course after crumbling at the fact it was nothing I'd expected, and had none of the passion anyone else on my course had- but it was the best thing I ever did. I've been able to meet more people, travel more and live more than I'd ever have hoped, and that's more important to me than having a certificate reminding me of a degree I didn't love. I wish it was socially acceptable to write a massive comment about how absolutely bad-ass, mind blowingly fantastic with words and awesome you are and how I'd like to have you as a tutor of cool/putting great sentences together (weird yet?) but in short- this is amazing, you will go so far and it will be the best thing you ever did. Like, I've never met you and I KNOW this. But yes, you will make so many people proud, but most importantly- you'll make yourself proud, and happy. Which is absolutely all that matters in this life. Good luck kicking ass girlfran' xx

  7. As soon as i read this, i went to msg you on twitter to let you know how awesome this post was. But wanted to leave a longer comment here... uni was thr most excruciatingly painful experience of my life (was also doing creative subject) but because i hadnt figured out what i wanted to do next, or the fear of disappointing my parents meant that i continued. You are incredible! I wish i had the balls to do what you've done. You're words are so inspiring, i hope u know that. And i know there are bigger and better things out there for you. Keep sharing these beautifully written thoughts.


  8. You have how much your letter has touched me! I definitely know the feeling of parents that have a very rigid idea of what should want from life and pursue and just absolutely feeling strangled because of that at times. It kind of seems to be the story of our generation to want to go another way, to pursue who we really are, to find happiness in the unconventional and hence to fall into conflict with the generation before us eventually, but I just wish we could all just accept that there's no one path that's right for every one. So kudos to you for being true to yourself and for inspiring other people to live their own life and not the life laid out for them. And yes, your decision is so goddamn brave! I'm also looking forward to reading that autobiography one day! ;)

    1. "You have no idea how much..." That's what the first sentence is supposed to say! :)

  9. I always think it's so brave when people decide to take control of their own lives because, despite it being an obvious thing that we all should be doing, it's so easy to just 'go with the flow'. So I think you are so brave and admirable right now! I personally love academics but there are other parts of my life where bravery definitely lacks and reading this reminded me of that so much. I can't really express how I feel with this comment (which is weird because I'm definitely better at expressing myself through writing ha!) but I knew I wanted to write something. Congrats on taking control and good luck - the world wont' even know what hit it!
    Saadiya x

    || That Girl; Saadiya ||

  10. I don't even know where to begin with my comment on this post... Just wow! You are incredible, inspirational and I'm am absolutely in awe of you! If I could rewind time back to when I was your age and do what you have just done then I would have done it in a heartbeat. I forced my way through university for three years and got myself in debt with student loans, etc and for what...? It was excruciating and having my parents say 'well, you've done one year, you might as well continue...' Replay in your head over and over again until three years have passed and you don't know what to do with your life or where you want to go? Your courage and bravery is admirable and I think what you have said/done is amazing!! You are a fantastic writer and you have such a way with words that I can't even explain... Good luck with the future and j know you'll kick ass whatever you decide to do and whichever path you decide to take - you are a wonderful talent! Here's to the future... *raises glass full of alcohol*

  11. I did exactly the same as you last year I had a complete career change and couldn't be happier. This post is great, sometimes its so hard to put this situation into words and I feel like you've really encapsulated it!

    Kate x

  12. Whoa, as a teenager who is currently trying to work out where she will end up at the end of this year without disappointing her family this was a breath of fresh air. You always see the same sort of things, 'it's not right for me,' and 'I can't seem to put in the effort' but the fact that you have actually given an explanation and proved to the world that you can do it on your own terms it refreshing. I love seeing the amount of effort that you've put into it, you've tried and tried and tried again which is amazing. So many people would have given up a long time ago but you Katie, you are brilliant. Thank you for your courage in finally shedding something that was holding you down, thank you for your brave note to your parents and thank you for your wisdom. Without which I wouldn't be able to take a deep breath and say to myself 'it's alright whatever path I choose.'

    Chloe, xo.

  13. I'm truly happy for you Katie. You've really made me think about this. I'm in second year at uni, and starting to doubt if it is right for me (hell I started to have doubts ages ago). Man life is too bloody short. The thing is I'm so lost. I have nothing going on for me right now. The only thing that is making me happy now is seeing you feeling the weight off your shoulders. I truly hope you keep on thriving. Good night x

  14. This is so so beautiful really hope you get through and flourish ��

  15. You are a brave warrior and a fucking heroine! I applaud your decision, and I'm in awe of you!
    You already feel that this decision is the right one, because your body tells you it is. We always tell ourselves "listen to your gut", but how many really do? You have, and that's amazing. The "traditional" route hasn't worked for so many people in so many years, yet we still take it, because - the alternative is scary. And most are too scared to face that fear. You are facing it, and you will come out of this victorious! I can't wait to see your story unfold. Keep us posted!!

  16. This is such a wonderfully written post and I was able to relate to it a little more than I thought.
    When I was in my first year of Uni where I was studying political science, I decided to drop out and change my major and I went into languages. My parents who I love dearly and who also love me and we've always had a great relationship, were not happy about this decision because political science is a prestigious thing, you know, and languages.. What will you do with that?
    I was miserable there and it was hard to do and it took me loads of courage to do, but boy am I happy I did it. Everyone else were supporting me, so it was even harder than my parents were not. Now they are happy about it because they see me happy there and I've learned a very important lesson that if you feel something is right for you and you even have to go against the people you love so much, it probably is right for you. What matters is whether you are happy.
    You are very brave and I am sure you will become successful and I hope your parents will be proud of you, because they really should. I wish you the best of luck in everything you do!
    Migle Meet Me On The Balcony

  17. This must be one of the most brave and empowering posts I have ever read! Your determination to live a life of happiness over expectation is amazing and I wish you all the best in what you do but I have no doubt that whatever it is, it's going to be brilliant! Your the kind of influence a lot of people need in their lives so I thank you for sharing this with us today. I can't wait so follow your journey of happiness and if you ever bring out an autobiography I sure as hell am going to read it.

    Love Khrissie Xx

  18. Katie it is such a relief to read this post. I've been reading your blog for months and it has been clear for quite some time that it was in fact university that was hindering your success. There have been times when I have willed you to trust your instincts more and let it go.

    I've never actually commented here before but today, as the parent of a teenage blogger, I absolutely must. My daughter Lily (Joli House) achieved 11 A* GCSEs last year and so far, things are looking good for A level "success" too. I am ridiculously proud of her. She worked so hard. If only this could be enough for everyone else. It seems that I am almost constantly fending off enquiries about Lily's plans for the future - "She'll be hoping for Oxbridge then?" "She's doing law/medicine/economics?" "Has she started her personal statement?" No, no and no FFS! She is going to do what makes her happy.

    Evidently, Lily's plans for continued education are far more relaxed than some had been hoping for. She intends to start a degree with the Open University and continue with her design work and blogging. How long will that take? Will she achieve 'success'? Who the fuck knows? She'll be happy and that's all her dad and I care about. She has turned down opportunites for years to play by education's rules and to be honest, I'd be disappointed if she allowed the same rules to hold her back now. We're excited to see what she does after A levels. Don't know what it'll be yet but we're excited anyway. And success? Lily posted about this a short while ago when a particularly 'success-hungry' ex told her how awful and useless her blog was. He is happily ensconsed in his first year Economics at LSE. Need I say more?

    Anyway, I am excited to see what you have for us now that you have cast off your shackles. We as readers can only gain from your new-found freedom.

    Amanda x

  19. This is so powerful, congratulations on making your decision! I dropped out of my first year in October but am planning to go to a different uni this September, and I couldn't agree more that sometimes we have to make these sorts of decisions for our own happiness! Good luck with the next chapter in your life :)
    Hannah x

  20. This is so powerful, congratulations on making your decision! I dropped out of my first year in October but am planning to go to a different uni this September, and I couldn't agree more that sometimes we have to make these sorts of decisions for our own happiness! Good luck with the next chapter in your life :)
    Hannah x

  21. I can really relate to how you feel right now. In my last year of university I went through so much I am surprised I even made it into the blinding sunshine of July's graduation ceremony. I had done my job. I had travelled the path my parents had set out for me since my first day of nursery school. Yet, I felt empty. It was then I decided to do what I want and not get tied down to a soul destroying job and stay in my stifling home town. I rode the train tracks (quite literally) for a while and eventually found a career as a freelance writer which suited me perfectly. Now I live in Wales and there is something about living next to mountains which makes me realise how important it is to do what YOU want for YOURSELF.
    I have always loved your blog Katie and I have no doubt we will be seeing more of you in the future.


    1. How did you become a freelance writer?


  22. Well done Katie! This is truly inspiring, although I loved my degree I've always said that it is most definitely not the only way to show case just how talented you can be. Especially if you're more creative. If it drives you to despair then what Is the point, you'll only resent it. It's so much more important to be happy and healthy. You're a fantastic writer and I'm confident you'll excel in whatever it is you chose to do next. I'm sure your parents will see this too in time. Congratulations, Ash xxxxx

  23. WOW. Fucking hell, I've only just stumbled across your blog and I am already inspired by you. You are bloody amazing and seriously, congratulations for doing what you've done. That takes nothing but sheer bravery and courage, and I admire you so much! You should also take comfort in the fact that no everyone can write like you can, your talent with words is rare, and it WILL make you successful. You've sold a copy of your book already.. ;) xx
    Sam | Samantha Betteridge

  24. Absolutely loved this post and will lbw sharing with as many people as possible, you honesty and the way you went about this inspires me and i find you so incredibly brave, so excited to see where you end up! xx

  25. Katie that was nothing short of incredible. I am in complete awe of your strength and your courage to step beyond the boundaries laid out by this cultural ideal that only by being degree-level-educated will you be successful. I know in my heart what I want to do, who I want to become and I feel more passionately about it that anything in this world. Yes, it might take me the guts of twenty years before I reach that end goal, but that is my choice and I know that I can do it. From merely reading your blog I know how ridiculously talented you are, you are a writer who can express so much, seemingly so effortlessly, but so controlled and oh so beautifully. You are an inspiration to me and to so many out there and I know you can do whatever you set your mind to because it cannot only be me who feels so empowered after reading your blogs. When all of this calms down and the hard work begins please do not feel disheartened or think "what have I done?" For behind you are a community of people who truly believe in you and know that you will truly be happy in yourself one day. Thank you ever so much for your beautiful words of wisdom, you have helped me at times more than you could ever have imagined.

  26. Katie Oldham, where do I begin? I can only bow down to you and throw my hat at your feet because this is GOLD.

    I was in this exact same spot a couple of years ago. I loved writing and had dragged myself off to do a degree in English Literature, where with every essay title and 'classic' novel forced into my hands, I began to loathe what was once my most favourite thing in the world.

    I voiced this growing dissatisfaction to my parents and was met with an abundance of criticism about this all being foggy idealism growing on a foundation of having no idea what the 'real world' was like.

    I was just a stupid child who allowed my head and heart to co-exist and waft through the clouds. I didn't understand the pressures of the life that awaited me out there and should therefore allow my wise, sensible and all-knowing parents to guide me and all would be well. And so I stayed.

    I wrote terrible essays in 2 hours, sparknotes became my best friend, I stopped reading and became so disconnected from my passions that I even missed an entire module that I had to resit. I had become completely disconnected from everything I loved, and stayed put all because I had put my trust in the words of people I thought knew what was right for me.

    For a time I probably even considered I was doing the right thing, staying and all. I had amazing friends who had become my family so I stayed for them and I stayed for my parents and I graduated. But what I didn't realise is that it would never stop there.

    You let other people dictate moments of your life for you and then it won't ever just stop there. It became a council of what the most 'appropriate job' would be for me, I couldn't possibly go travelling now what with the world in such fierce competition for jobs and I was going to go stick a straw in a coconut and befriend a local hobo? Definitely not.

    A viscous cycle of sensibleness, safe and predictable decisions began to swallow me up, until I could practically look into the future and see me sat in that office, bullshitting my way up the suited ladder to push my designer stilettos into the scalps of stake holders, in the hope climbing up to reach my new company car.

    Everything I had feared as a child, everything I had vowed to myself I would never be. I was living a life that I hadn't chosen and that I sure as fuck didn't want. I felt like I was breathing but not living. I couldn't sleep, I was in a constant state of restlessness. A restlessness of not being able to grab the wheel and steer it, I was just sat in the passenger seat watching someone take the right turn when I wanted to take the left.

    And then I snapped and in an explosion of tears and anger I finally decided I wouldn't do it any more.

    I was allowing my parents to squash out all the things I had wanted. The messy, reckless and stupid decisions that I LOVED about myself, but my parents so worried about.

    And so I quit.

    I quit my job, I quit taking directions, I quit allowing people to tell me what the 'right' thing to do, or that I might regret it. I began to realise that I didn't care. I entered the blissful, and ethereal return to unpredictable chaos and uncertainty. And it is great.

    Sure, life isn't perfect but I never wanted perfect. I just wanted it to be mine.

    My point is, staying at University would have been the beginning of a long life of being trapped, and then caged in a life you didn't chose. I realised at 23, and now I'm free. You realised at 22, and now you are free and I think it's quite clear you're going to achieve something really incredible.

    I am confident that this is your time.

    Excellent post girl xxx

    1. This is true, unfortunately pressure and expectations don't stop the moment you go to university. They continue throughout life and if you are not careful, your sense of self will be killed off by others.

  27. Wow, this is an excellent post. I have never read your blog before but I truly commend you. I think there is too much pressure to go to university and that is not right.

  28. I'm terrible at getting my thoughts across but I'm going to give it a go. I'm pretty sure that this is forever going to be one of my favourite blog posts I've ever read. First of all, I can't get over how incredibly beautiful your writing is and this genuinely brought me to tears. Secondly, I honestly class you as one of my role models, and I respect and admire you so much for this decision. My parents are amazing and I love them loads, but when talking about my future they won't even consider me not going to university, It's not even a option, so I guess I kind of understand the pressure that parents can cause even if they're not meaning to. But I strongly believe there's no point in doing anything that doesn't make you happy in some way or another. I know you have lots of lovely comments so I understand that this might not even be comparable to some of them but I just wanted to tell you that, despite not knowing you personally, I think you are such an amazing person. X

  29. I dropped out of college half way through my A2's. My parents flipped and my Mum didn't speak to me for 3 months. 2 years later I work as a Marketing Assistant and my employers are paying for me to do my Business Management degree one day a week. I am in such a better position today rather than if I had finished college, scraping through with passes and not enjoying any of the courses I was taking. This will open so many more doors for you and life will only get more exciting from now on.

  30. If dont mind me asking how where your parents about the news well done for taken control of your life And going you own way.

  31. Brilliant post Katie. I can relate to this a lot; I felt frustrated and fed-up with university and hated that it seemed it was something I had done not because I wanted to do it but because that's what I should do, it's what everyone else did and that's what I was expected to do. I dropped out after a year and a half and my parents were so supportive and I don't have any regrets about it.

    A friend of mine dropped out of university after two years, they felt the same way I did, and their parents refused to speak to them and kicked them out the house because god forbid they'd have to tell their middle class friends that their child was a drop out. They would rather lose contact with that child and pretend they didn't exist than help their child try to figure out what to do next. That kid is now doing something they enjoy.

    I hope everything works out well for you. Over the past couple of years I've come to realise that no one really knows what they're doing and it's ridiculous to expect teenagers to choose a university course and a career when they've hardly seen the working world and real life is scary. Somehow, things work themselves out and you've taken the first step to that.

    I hope you're feeling better about getting everything off your chest to your parents and leave university.

  32. Dropping out of university was the best decision I ever made. I've now found a job I love, Ive gained qualifications through that job and whilst there were days in the early months where I sobbed my heart out at the failure I felt Id become, it just was not true.

    There is and will always be a light at the end of the tunnel. With determination to succeed you will be suprised at how far you can go.

    I hope your parents come round to understanding, I worked myself up into such a state at how my parents would react, but I think they secretly felt some sense of relief. Their lost daughter had finally returned home and was ready to admit defeat, instead of slogging on dreadfully, crying and beating herself up about something which was costing a lot more money than it was worth. Parents can be strange things, for all our worries and our downfalls they are usually there when the moment counts.

    I don't wish you luck, because luck is not what you need right now; So I wish you determination and the power to succeed, I wish you support from those around you and your heart, to see that this is just the beginning, I wish you passion and drive on those days where you feel at a loss and I send you a peek into my mind to tell you there is success at the other side.

    Continue to be free, be happy and most importantly, always be you.


  33. What a powerful, emotional and invigorating piece to read. You should be so proud of yourself for stepping into the unknown to hunt down what makes you happy, rather than continuing along the route so many of us have taken just because it's what we were supposed to do. I would love to see the face on your parents when they read it too! Good luck x

  34. I'm so glad you have found the strength and courage to move forward in a way that will be a positive step for you. My daughter didn't go to uni and looking back it was obvious that she never wanted to. I didn't go to uni - and I didn't want to either. However, while her decision was right (she has a great job that she absolutely loves - ironically, she was put straight on a grad training scheme) at the time, as parents, we were scared for her. Wanting what makes you happy doesn't mean you actually get it and we felt a degree was belt and braces to empower future choices. Now I think we were wrong, but you never stop being a parent and trying to protect your children. I think your mum and dad might have such fear for your future (borne of love) that they were hoping the belt and braces would make them feel better and not you. Sometimes you have to jump without looking, and crucially, let your children do the same. But it's not easy!

  35. How do you plan to survive without a source of money? A uni degree is supposed to help you find a financial stability so you don't end up on the streets or working as a stripper. Anyway, these questions may seem intrusive and I'm sorry for that. I wish you the best. (And btw, don't think I'm some judgemental middle aged man or something, I'm 17 years old)

  36. Well done love.
    I've had a very similar day today. I've been miserably teaching for the past 2 years because I've been too terrified to change careers for fear of everyone thinking I'd be a failure.
    I'm sick to death of loathing every minute of my work life. So today I made the same decision as you.
    You're so brave and I'm sure your parents would be proud regardless.
    University isn't the be all end all.
    Good luck with everything!

  37. Congratulations, Katie. I truly commend you for this post and your sureness in your decision and I hope that your parents took it well. So much of this resonates with my own academic life (not quite ruined but not quite stellar) which my parents have often found... somewhat inadequate, but we're both learning to allow me to live up to my potential (me realising not all academic work is bad, and my parents allowing me to grow from my own mistakes).

    I hope that your parents don't hold your decision against you, you have such a way with words and crafting them into amazing pieces of art, and why learn how to do that at £9k a year when you already have so much talent? That bit of paper and an overpriced, hired gown isn't going to make much difference, just add another photo to the mantelpiece and take up another frame that could be used for memories with happier origins. I dislike the way schools teach us that you're a failure if you don't go through higher education, and I'm glad that you've made this decision for you - regardless of what anyone else thinks. Well done for being brave.

    little miss fii | Fii x

  38. I dropped out of uni at the end of my second year, and to be honest I had wanted to do it since about the first term of the first year! Half the problem was that I didn't know anyone who had dropped out, and that made it difficult to take that decision.

    You've made a brave decision, but it sounds like the right one for you. I bet any money that this post will help someone in the future to make the right decision for them as well.

  39. A massive credit to you for having the balls to take the decision to drop out Katie, I know its not easy. I dropped out myself before I came to Herts, I wrote a similar blog post here:

    All the best for the future!!
    Gemma :)

  40. Finally someone who feels the same as I do. I have no bloody idea what I want to do for the rest of my existence, and when you throw being 16 when you have to choose into the mix, I know even less. I'm going into my final year of Computing Science in September and I can't bare to face it. I wouldn't go as far as to say I hate it, but I cannot imagine me being HAPPY in any career that will come of my degree. I have been aimlessly trying to find something that I might like and that takes me slightly out of the main IT industry like teaching or business analyst roles, but I think I just generally hate this subject now. Problem though is I don't have a bloody clue what i would do instead. & to make it worse all my friends are in final year now as I was the only one successful in getting a placement year and I've been offered a job as an outcome of that. UGHHHHHHHHHHH ADVICE? I don't want to waste 1. all these years of study for nothing, 2. all this cray cray amount of debt I've got myself into and 3. Don't want to feel like a failure. But I can't think of anything worse than being in a room of 200 I do not know any of and finish a degree I am pretty shit at anyway. #lifeproblems

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  42. Katie, what is missing in your post, and nearly all the comments, is any mention of what your parents may have sacrificed to give you the opportunity you are belittling and fleeing from. Our own daughter is in her third year at a state university, and by the time she is done, we will have paid over half the price of our HOME for the privilege. We have encouraged her to find and develop her talents, learn about the working environments and prospects of careers she might be good at. We have provided professional contacts for her to interview and learn from. We have hoped that she could shape her education toward a career she desires. To our disappointment, she seems to be afraid to seek advice from working professionals, preferring to listen to her naïve peers and drift on the currents of academia. I hope she does not follow your path (or mine).
    I dropped out of university in my 3rd year, with only half the progress I should have made, poor study/work habits overwhelmed by the demands of university. A year of working a crappy hourly job in a factory provided motivation, and a kindly mentor provided encouragement to patch up my education, one night-course at a time, toward an engineering career. Another year of that put me in a position to return to university with more maturity, and paying for it out of my own pocket gave me the balls to ask questions when ANYTHING was unclear in classes, and the determination to complete assignments on time.
    Successfully completing some difficult, long term task, and a degree is certainly that, means that people are willing to talk to you. College may be actual training, or it may be an "aptitude test" to prove your work ethic. There may be other ways to convince people that you are worth hiring, but the degree helps at the beginning of your working life.
    I haven't been the best in my field, but I've able to afford some amazing adventures, buy a home, raise a well-fed daughter in a warm house. We've done our best to listen to her, encourage her, push her out of her comfort zone, make her work when she'd rather just consume entertainment. As parents, we do our best to help our children avoid the traps, point you in a safe direction, even at some adventures. We HOPE our children will find something rewarding to be passionate about, before they get as far as you or I did, but when you hate what you're doing, and can't hold your breath long enough to finish, you have to save your sanity.
    A little time, the perspective of distance, and exposure to the Real World, may be just what you need to orient yourself and draw a new map. If you do decide to complete your degree, paying for it yourself is a powerful motivator. Good luck.

  43. I know a lot successful entrepreneurs and business men and women who stem from the university. To dismiss all of its alumni as underachievers is a tad immature and very, very inaccurate - especially since you've met some of them. You have to do whats right for you, but sometimes running away from something is not the answer, lives tough and trust me outside of uni its even harder. Its a brave decision, but not necessarily a wise one.

  44. Wow - this is such an amazingly brave and inspiring post. Plus, you write so well! Congratulations on facing your fears and doing what's right for YOU - knowing who you are in this world and what you stand for really is something to be admired. I hope life's great to you as you continue your journey!

  45. What an amazing post Katie, I'm in absolute awe of your bravery to speak up about your decision and into the blogging sphere!
    It's so blooming hard to understand why it's ok to pay £9000 a year for university and stick to it if your unhappy. Your health should always come first, it was great you noticed it and decided to leave sooner rather than later. I don't think your a failure, your speaking out for those who may be struggling to accept they're unhappy and scared to make the first move!

    I hope your happier now :)

    Emmie |

  46. I really admire your honesty, Katie. It really is brave of you to follow your heart and take steps towards making your dreams come true.

    I think every university student worries if they've made the right choice with their degree or if it was a massive mistake & waste of money. My degree was only 3 years and it wasn't completely unenjoyable for me (it was a Bachelor of Communications so the subjects were quite creative and varied) so I decided to stick it out as I didn't have any other plan. But I see friends of mine who have been at university for six years now and have changed degrees, failed subject and generally dislike what they're studying. They aren't happy but they're too afraid to change things and chase what's going to make them happy.

  47. What most of this comes from, for me is, people in the past causing such trauma regarding school that it then plays out again as we grow up. Speaking about me, but I can relate to some of the language you are using about feeling forced and pressured into anything, that pressure comes from someone doing that so bad to us as kids that we now accept it as adults. So pat yourself on the back that you don't anymore.

    I watched a little kid at work screaming her head off the other day because someone had held her down to treat her feet, we tried but wouldn't do the same, as her father was trying to do. It was sick, but it just reminded me (and ate at me) that that's how all of these situations start, for her she'll feel forced, pressured, hurt and more every single time she thinks about going to seek out a medical professional, because one in her past had done that to her.

    Anyway, enough rambling, hope life worked out well. I personally dropped out of university three times, and about 3 out of 5 college courses, no exaggeration, such was the expectancy of me to finish, and the amount of myself I buried with that pressure.

  48. Reading up on the main part on how you tried till final year and left, I sort of did that. However, due to personal and family problems, I ended up with a diploma in higher education. Then I felt bad and tried again last year at a different university. However, the social aspects put me off and family issues got in the way again. Now.... not sure am I doing. I love that you have a conviction to move forward. I wish I have that. But I am just completely absolutely at the moment.

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