It came to me, as I was walking out of the English talk at Warwick uni, stumbling slightly with my eyes widened, that I had absolutely no idea what the future would hold for me. I realised then that I was far too terrified for it to be rational and that for the next 15 minutes, nothing would mean anything in a mantra inside my head and really? That was okay.
Let’s backtrack a bit to 7 AM. I’d woken up an hour before, feeling strangely energised yet exhausted; my dad and I hopped in the car on our way to the uni, the journey taking around two hours. Unlike when I travel with my mum, I didn’t feel tense and had intelligent conversation, punctuated by my usual listening to music. When I’d booked the Open day before, I’d spent about half an hour planning what I’d go and see. I double checked it, like I always do, and a curious sort of excitement grew: I’d been looking forward to Warwick for ages and most of my friends who went there said they loved it and that it was amazing. Of course, they were right.
We took a bus from the Park-and-ride service and it didn’t take long, the trees sweeping along the roof which I found funnier than I should have. We got there, got out and got pointed to the registration place. I said “Thank you!” far too enthusiastically to some helpful staff and then I took about a year to get my barcode up. That was… Significantly awkward. Once I was scanned, we walked into the campus itself and the day started. Surrounded by other students, the sounds and smells of food cooking out in the open and music, it felt so relaxed and smelled so much of greenery at one point that I almost forgot I was in a university campus.
The first talk was why we should choose Warwick as a university and I thought, for the first time, that a place felt right in a way. It felt vibrant, the way they spoke about challenging you to think critically and not just to get the skills for a job but to get skills which you would be able to apply anywhere, for the rest of your life. That’s what I’d want for a degree: not just a means to an end but rather, something that would be truly useful and something that would make me fall in love with learning. They managed, in one talk, to make me feel like maybe, I’d get that there. If I got in, that is, which isn’t an easy feat: I’ll sit on my hope for now but not too much. If that wasn’t enough, I went and spoke to the Disability Advisor and a Postgraduate student who set up a around disability awareness after that talk ended. ⠠⠮ way they spoke about the uni made it feel welcoming. I saw the Literature Society, where I displayed a lot of excitement over the existence of it (I’d have been embarrassed if I cared) and found out that yes, there was a Writing society. Cue even more excitement. I spent about half an hour in that hall, wandering round and talk to a few societies to find out what kind of things were on offer, far more than I had at UEA or Birmingham.
The problem that didn’t even register as a problem until afterwards started when I went to the “Applying to Warwick” talk. They spoke about Personal Statements and what Warwick specifically wanted in Undergraduate students and I started to tell myself, quiet but still insistent, that I didn’t have those qualities. I’ve barely started on my Personal Statement because I have no idea how to structure it, despite all the advice and so I panicked. I panicked a lot, a cold harsh feeling in my stomach but I shoved it back. I realise now that I do have the ability to structure it, to write concisely and in a focused way and that all I have to do is start but in that talk, it turned into a raging monster inside my head because it was too big, too much. That was another mantra I repeated throughout the day, “too many things, too much, too quickly.”
Accommodation, both discussed in the talk and seen by me when I went on a mini tour of it, was really nice. That filled me with no fear because I could see myself living there, with or without a Guide Dog; it was close to everything and the anxiety of not being able to drive was stopped because the campus is connected to places around it. The loneliness was negated, too, because there would be people and a nearby city (Coventry). Things weren’t registering as much in that talk but when I went to see them with my dad, thought I’d broken the toaster in the kitchen and found out the differences in the halls, I started to feel a lot better about it all.
After lunch, we had the Students’ Union Talk; it was nothing too groundbreaking. I liked how one of the people spoke about her experiences because it was refreshing to know that loads of different societies existed. Still, it was nothing I hadn’t heard when I was walking about before.
The most important talk was the talk on English and this was where things started to really get confusing in my head. On its own, the talk was great: four sections (English on its own, then with history, theatre and Creative Writing) were really well explained as to make it exciting; there were political jokes and the lecturers who did the talks were both hilarious and thought-provoking at times. Somebody who had graduated spoke to us, as well as another undergraduate talking about a program which encouraged secondary school students to go into higher education. I loved it, so why did I walk out of the talk feeling sick?
The abbreviated answer is that I don’t know if the writing part of it was something I wanted to do. I’d lost focus in that talk, zoning out as I thought about nothing; I was unable to concentrate on the words. The future seemed absolutely bleak to me then and I sat there, shaking with the knowledge that everything felt like it was meaningless and worthless and like I was somehow broken in a stupid way. It was more than me feeling just sad; I felt desperately worried at the sheer amount of uncertainty. I kept on thinking, “Am I doing the right thing? Am I good enough?” and although I knew I was, that second-guessing shocked me. I didn’t want it there, in a room full of people who loved reading and writing just as much as I did. For a while after that, I was very silent and honestly terrified because my apathetic reaction to the talk confused and upset me. When I went into the drop-in session afterwards and spoke to a student doing the course I wanted to do, everything felt better but I presented myself as quite uninterested, bored even, despite the fact that I wasn’t. I wanted to know but the excitement seemed to have been drawn out of me, somehow.
When I got home, I had time to think. Yes, I was feeling unhappy and not thrilled at the prospect then but now, I see what a great course it actually is. I love the university and people there were passionate about their subject and where they were studying. Only when I look back can I understand that although I can’t quite remember what was said in the talks, I know that I enjoyed myself.
Perspective doesn’t make it “all better.” Even for my more positive attitude, I still feel desperate and sad and very panicked, for various reasons. Things are looking up though, in at least one aspect of my life – the university aspect. My work ethic and personal issues are weighing me down but my future’s a little less scary. That counts for something, right?
Was it my fearful reaction to me being emotionless that marred the English talk slightly? Is Warwick really the right place for me? Will I have a definite idea of what I want to do in the future, without feeling panicked? I don’t know the answers to any of those questions. I think, though, that I don’t to know just yet. I still have time ahead of me.
Have you been to Warwick and what did you think? Do you know what you want to do in the future?
From Elm 🙂