When I decided to do a degree at the ripe old age of 36, I think it shocked a lot of people, not least of all me. I had recently lost my mum to a sudden heart attack and I found myself in limbo. I had never even taken A-levels, so why a degree now? Partly, because I had worked as someone else’s right hand woman for nearly twenty years and I wanted to know whether I could be something different. Partly, because I needed to fill a huge void that had arisen through losing someone so close. But mostly, because I always wondered. Could I do this?
I had just had to finish an English Literature night school course because of childcare issues, and I’m sure I’m not the first person to experience those, but doing that class had given me a confidence boost because for once, I found myself at the top of the class. It was a strange feeling. Having been given the moniker of being ‘average’ throughout my school life, this new me came as a huge shock.
I knew my partner would be supportive of any choice I made and so I contacted my local university. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, just that I needed to do something. Not having the required A-levels to enter, I was asked to submit a creative piece of writing and amazingly, they liked it enough to grant me a place.
I graduated two weeks ago. It was THE most surreal experience of my life. It was the culmination of four extremely tough but rewarding years, not just for me but for my family, and sometimes, I still have to pinch myself to remind myself it’s real.
Often, the hardest part of the degree was the juggling of family life with studying; other times, it was deciphering Shakespeare. Either way, I miss it terribly. I might have been the oldest in the class and I don’t think the younger students saw me as ‘Mum,’ at least not all of them, but I just felt at home at University. I had finally found a place to be that was full of like-minded people, different ages and nationalities, but come the end of class … they were down the pub and I was doing the school run. And that was just fine by me. I wasn’t pretending to be somebody I’m not … I just felt lucky to even be there.
I’m often asked, “So, what are you going to do now you’ve got a degree?”
“Take each day as it comes,” I reply.
I don’t have a ten-year plan. Nor a five-year one for that matter, at least not today. But I do have a year-long plan and I know that I’ve come out the other side of this degree a rather different person to the one that went in.
And that’s no bad thing. I’m still WitWitWoo, just the Mac version now, not Windows!