A piece of paper. A photograph in a fancy hat. Four years of hard work. Success. Personal fulfilment. Genuine love of a subject.
For me, my degree was all of the above. It was also a time to develop independence, to find my feet, to work out what I did and didn’t like, what I would and wouldn’t tolerate, what I did and didn’t believe.
It was a time to discover a real and enduring love for study, for Literature, for Art, for History. A time to discover that actually, I was good at researching theories and writing down ideas and interpretations. And that actually, this is all I wanted to do.
It was a time for me to discover my voice. To start saying No to what didn’t suit, and Yes to what did. To stand up for myself, my beliefs, my rights. To stop giving a single fuck what other people thought of me.
It was a time to find some incredible, wonderful friends from all over the world. To debate, to learn, to be inspired by the fantastic, interesting people I found myself surrounded by.
It was a time to find some not so nice people, whose primary methods of communication were manipulation, blackmail, mind games and lies. It was learning how to deal with those people, not be dragged down with their drama, wish them well and move on.
It was a time to put on a fancy hat and robe, spam my friends social media with pictures and shout from the rooftops YES I got my degree, and YES I am bloody proud of myself.
It was a time to show kids from my hometown, from my school, from my background that your socioeconomic status, your family make-up, your mental health issues can’t stop you from achieving your dreams.
It was a time to cry, to love, to learn.
It was a time to be spontaneous, to take risks, to learn to live.
My degree is symbolised by a piece of paper.
But it was an amazing journey which changed my entire life.