While I respect the mindset of manifesting and believing that whatever is meant to happen, will happen; I ground myself on the idea that you’re the one in control of your life – not your parents, not your friends, not the universe. Don’t get me wrong, they all have a significant role to play and sometimes I find myself thinking “wow, the world really wanted that to happen to me today” but for the most part, I have what I have and I get what I want because I work hard for it – in fact, I earned it. 🙌
Call it sentimental but with two units left of my undergraduate degree, I’m sure you can understand the reflection. We’re in for a long one here so feel free to jump out whenever you like but today, I’m reminiscing on the last decade of my life.
Over the last two or so years; I’ve received exceptionally positive feedback on my assignments, I’ve been a recipient of the Dean’s Excellence Award for two consecutive semesters, I’ve been recommended for Honours twice, I’ve recently been informed that I was the top student in one of my units and I had the Internships Convenor for the Faculty of Arts and Design ask my permission to use my website for future students. This. Exact. Website. 😮
Sadly, I wasn’t always like this. I wasn’t always an academic achiever. In fact, I never strived for it but I was never the kid who thought being smart was lame. To be quite honest, I’m not all that smart – I simply know what I know and I put in the hard yards to know it. There isn’t much else to it.
For my story to make sense, I have to address a number of things:
- My time at the University of Canberra
- The environment I was in
- The choices I made
- The emotional support (or lack thereof)
- My best friend
- …and lastly, me
MY time at UC
My first semester at the University of Canberra was August 2013 (feels like a lifetime ago), where I enrolled in a double undergraduate degree of a Bachelor of Marketing Management and a Bachelor of Communication in Advertising. Sounds fancy, right?
I enjoyed all the marketing classes but loathed anything and everything else. I found it hard to motivate myself in economics, accounting… don’t even get me started on statistics and business law. I’ll be completely honest with you: I failed three units. Two of which, I failed twice… meaning that I failed five times. Talk about a waste of money. 👎
When it came to my advertising degree, I did really well in my first class but I didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t like any of them because I felt as if I wasn’t creative enough. I didn’t fail any units under this course but I withdrew from two because, again, I didn’t like them… so, I decided to change degrees. I kept Marketing Management but changed into Communication in Public Relations and this was when I saw a significant change in my academic studies. The punch line? I now work in advertising. So technically, I didn’t really need to make the change but how was I supposed to know how things would work out?
The environment I was in
Like I said, you’re the one with full control of your life but sometimes, there are factors that hold influence over your decisions.
I’ve got a lot of great memories from my childhood but I’d be lying to you if I said it was full of nothing but rainbows and lollipops – because it wasn’t. I actually rarely talk about my childhood. I didn’t learn how to speak my mind or have the self-confidence that I have now until my 20s. I used to cry during class presentations and job interviews. I was always afraid to ask questions or ask for help. Yeah, I was that kid. 🤦🏻♀️
When it came to where I worked, I always had pride and took ownership of the bar where I was working. Usually, I’d stay working there for a while because I loved it but sometimes, the hospitality industry gets you. The hard work, the late nights and the kind of people you meet (not always the good kind)… sometimes it gets the better of you. Once I became a full-time manager, I was working all the time. I reduced my study load and partied a lot. There were times where I’d finish work at midnight, stay out to party, get a few hours sleep, then wake up to do it all over again. Some might say that it was just my youth, and I’d agree with them to a certain degree, but I literally let uni slip through the cracks. Can you see where I failed all those units now?
There’s no way that this all happened because of my childhood or where I worked, not at all. I failed because I allowed myself to believe that those environments impacted me in the way it did rather than value those learning experiences. I’m a tougher person because of it but sadly, my education took the fall.
The choices I made
If you’ve known me for a long time, even if we aren’t really friends now, you’d know a lot about the choices that I made back in the day. Some were highly questionable, some were logical. For instance, why did I go full-time when I was already working full-time hours on casual pay? Not to mention my decision to change degrees when I’m actually working in advertising now, which resulted in studying a little bit longer than I should be.
My first breakup turned out to be a doozy. I remember saying “if you change your mind, let me know”. Vanessa, please. I laugh at myself when I catch myself thinking of that as I don’t even understand why I’d say that – not that I think about that moment often. My friends now would literally laugh at me knowing that I’ve said that. I could never understand those on-again-off-again couples, it’s not really my thing. The events after this are just iconic. From the people I met to the people I developed feelings for, even the situations I found myself in, you’d think I was in some kind of reality TV series. 😅
Things do work out in the end though. This is where all that “if it’s meant to be, it’ll be” business comes in but I certainly don’t regret the choices I’ve made because like I’ve said, it wouldn’t have led me to this point.
The emotional support (or lack thereof)
I’m not going to dive deep into the types of support systems that I’ve had because my current one is nothing short of amazing. This comes in all shapes and sizes – even from a guy I used to casually see once upon a time – and I’m forever grateful for the people I have in my inner circle now.
I will say this though: sometimes, it’s quite disheartening to find no comfort from those who should be providing that (unconditionally, might I add). I don’t know why I surprise myself each time I experience this because it’s usually from the same person or the same type of people. I’ve literally been called “an uneducated and close-minded young person” when really, I’m at the top of my class. What would they know, right? I personally find it sad that some people are stuck in this mindset that our younger generations aren’t good for anything – especially when they don’t know anything about their capability (..just like myself).
My best friend
Speaking of my inner circle, I owe a lot to my best friend. She doesn’t provide me with the typical form of support that a girl would most likely get from her bestie.
She supported me in two ways. First, by giving me all the freedom that I needed at the time. When we were younger, we leant on each other a lot. We were literally so inseparable that we’d often find ourselves in trios of friendships or she’d constantly be the third-wheel to the boy that I was seeing at the time. She was always around, looking over me and watching my every move (without being creepy). She allowed me to make the choices and mistakes that I made but always voiced when I made said mistakes. Plus, I was a lot more stubborn back then so kudos to her for always being by my side.
For me, showing up is a big deal. Saying “good job” is a big deal. Every little win contributes to a major win and she’s done exactly that. I won’t deny that there have been moments in our friendship when we’ve thought “why is or isn’t she doing this?” with each other but at the end of the day, I know she’s always going to be there for me. Her story is also incredible and I’m proud of the woman she’s become. She’s patient, loving and sweet – the complete opposite to me. But she’s it.
..and lastly, me
At the end of everyday, it all comes down to you. In this case: me.
I wasn’t always in the frame of mind that I’m in now. I lacked self-confidence, which resulted in an absence of drive. Back then, I was driven to be a social butterfly and party and do my job. It was often because of the position I’d put myself in or the people I’d surround myself with but it was all me – I made those choices.
And now? I choose me. I choose my education, my career, my happiness. I choose to not think of myself as dumb (…although I do have my moments! 😂). I choose to value what I can offer to people and I know that it’s because of me that I choose to be this way.
To those who continue to support me and shower me with love, I appreciate you. And to those who have called me “dumb” or aren’t aware of how good I am – are you living under a rock? At least I know I won’t dwell on any regrets in my life. It’s pretty easy to reflect on what’s come and gone when I’m so close to finishing uni but it’s certainly refreshing to see how far I’ve come. ✨