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Articles > Mental Health August, 01, 2019

The 3 Lessons I Learned over 3 Years

Sumaiya Ahmed
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In sixth form, I wanted to be a human rights lawyer, but my grades wouldn’t let me do it.

I became more aware of all the injustices in the world, started seeing the bitter truths about the society we live in. I learned about Mike Brown, Black Lives Matter and the inhumanity of FGM. Learning about so many influential people led me to reshape my future to take a different course.

I got a C, a D, and a U at A2. I was never going to fulfil my dreams of becoming a lawyer or a psychologist. Instead, I started doing Childcare. Since it was so far from what I wanted, I hated it, and ended up dropping out. The whole series of events taught me a lot, and I’m going to pass the knowledge on to you, in the hope that you take the same action that I did.

Lesson 1: Don’t let your grades get in the way of doing what you want.

Standardised testing doesn’t determine your intelligence; it measures your memory. If you don’t get the grades you want, you can always try again or find another way.

In 2016, I started working at an events company after deciding that education wasn’t for me. In 2017, I started an apprenticeship at a company specialising in business analysis. My colleague (also an apprentice) and I got nothing done. Our manager didn’t give us anything to do or tell us what he even wanted from us. Halfway through our apprenticeship, our agencies pulled us out and I ended up with a job in retail which I hated. I wasn’t sure about what I was doing or where I was going with my life. I had no goals.

Fast forward a few months to the end of 2017, and I enrolled in a college to study an Access to Higher Education course in Health and Social Care. My mum pushed me towards studying. My ex pushed me towards doing something for myself, for my future. I did and it was great.

Even if they don’t all work out, there are always other options to try, so don’t be afraid to switch between them or even do something unexpected!

Lesson 2: If you’re unhappy with where you are in your life, make a change.

One small step can change your future for the better. If you want something to change, you have to make that change yourself.

I finished the HSC course with Distinctions and Merits, granting me a place at Middlesex University to study Psychology with Counselling Skills. Here’s the thing: I’m awful with numbers/statistics, and even though some were involved in getting the place, I still made the grade. I got firsts in all my essays, with over 85% in a few of them, but in Statistics, I got 13%. Even if you can’t meet all the criteria, there’ll always be a way to get where you want to be.

During Christmas break, I realised how much I missed studying English and writing essays about books and analysing words. I missed reading and writing in general, so I applied to study English, and before long, I was given an unconditional offer to study English Literature with Creative Writing.

In May, I withdrew from the Psychology course and started writing a story. I finished it a month later. In June, I published my poetry collection, Lost and Found, which is available on Amazon. Everything started to come together after being distant and disjointed for such a long time. I started seeing a therapist. I’m in a better place now that I’m doing what I love. Once you begin to take control of your life and send it in the right direction, it all starts to look and feel much better from every angle.

Lesson 3: Don’t be afraid to change your mind if it means going after something you love.

People will question you, and maybe make you feel like you’re a failure; they’ll say that you won’t get anywhere because you constantly do the same thing. Ignore them.

Do what you want to do because you want to do it.

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