To be honest, I’m not a fan of September. Too many things have happened in the past for me to trust this month. In my mind I’m still a child, observing the years by the school term, waiting for Christmas to console me that in a few short months, school will be over and I can enjoy the summer holidays again.
September 2007 I was starting my final year of school and I was so excited to see my friends again, only to find out that I got a D in my early maths paper. What proceeded after this revelation was an angered tirade from both my head of year and form tutor in front of my class—because I was supposed to be smart and a high achiever, they blasted me in front of everyone, assuming that I had not applied myself and got carried away with friends. I have never been more humiliated, and even now I get angry thinking about it. I never deserved their vitriol and it triggered a mental health crises, resulting in my being admitted to a psychiatric ward the next month. I don’t think I’ve ever forgiven them.
September 2010 I started uni. Went all the way to Derby to do Creative Writing because I never really knew what I wanted to study or what I wanted to be, all I knew was that I could write and it sounded like a fun way to spend three years of my life. I was miserable and lonely, and even though I did well in the class I left after my first year. That summer was stressful. I just didn’t know what I wanted to be and how to get there. No career really spoke to me, and no job I ever did made me think “yeah, this path is for me”.
September 2011. I failed a maths test on two occasions which would have enabled me to study Mental Health Nursing at both Kings College and London Southbank, so I funnelled through the rejection slush pile known as Clearing to try and find a new university place. After I failed those tests, I remember my mum saying that she knew when I dropped out I was “gonna be some cruff” and so in a panic I chose Sociology at a mid-ranking university to get her off my case. I got onto the course in the latter half of that month, and after a shaky few weeks during which I questioned my whole life choices, I finally settled in. 3 years later, I left with a First Class, which ain’t so bad.
September 2014 I decided to try my hand at getting an MPhil because my lecturers were all so impressed with my work and I took a lot of interest in social science. I managed to pay for my first year with a generous donation from my dad, who had sold his house not long before. But I struggled. I was still working part-time as a library assistant and the amount of work I needed to do for the project grew to be impossible. All the while I thought about my career and what I was doing, how I was going to get there. I didn’t want to be a university lecturer and I didn’t want to research full time. I wanted to do things with people, and social work seemed like a more practical use of my time. Feeling like a failure (again) I quit and started looking for ways to get into the field.
The subsequent years have been a mish-mash of decisions and achievements and unrealised goals. I worked as a support worker and managed a caseload of homeless vulnerable adults. I qualified as a massage therapist. I wrote some books. I made this blog. I cut my locs and regrew them. I got married and moved into a cute little flat. I started working on an IT helpdesk and I’m still there now. I still don’t feel like an adult. In my mind I’ve just left uni again, not quite knowing what to do with my life and how to get there. Now that I’m paying rent, my decisions to “take time off” and study are limited, and marriage means that all major decisions need to be properly planned first. I’m 27 but I feel like life is starting to run out, with most of my friends in high-paying careers already. The only constant has been my writing, but with all these rejections coming in it can feel overwhelming, that I really won’t be rewarded for the hard work I put into this, the only aspect of my life that I truly, consistently, work on and try to improve.
This September, I’m making some decisions. I think it’s time I stopped allowing this month to throw me. The only way to move on is to do things differently. My head is getting full, but there is still some space.