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What they don’t tell you…

People always said growing up would be difficult. You have responsibilities, finances, and a career to think about. But you never really understand how difficult that challenge is until you are faced with it, and I wish it was something more people spoke up about and taught us in school.

Throughout my high school years, I never knew what I wanted to be. I never had an interest in anything specific, and the thought of having to be independent scared me so I always avoided thinking about it. Whenever people would ask what I was studying at University, I would always reply with I’m not going. Why they always asked? My response always being I hated sitting in a classroom and taking exams, I always procrastinated when it came to revision, so I never did it. If that was going to be then expected of me in university, how would I cope. I knew mentally University would be the wrong path for me.

But I always knew this. From the age of around 12 I knew I would never attend university, so while it was time to decide what university we would apply to, I always sat as the only one who was not applying to these prestigious schools and felt clueless. I constantly stressed about what my career was going to be, and if I would have stable finances after college. My teachers never provided me with support in looking for apprenticeships, so I did it all on my own, although they did offer people I could go to, but as someone who struggles speaking and reaching out to people, this was not anoffer I took up. I guess those applying to university are considered a priority – while those who need guidance for other options are overlooked, as society and the education system often steer young people down the university route and keep quiet of other pathways.

After months of sleepless nights anxious about when I was going to find a job, I got a job as an apprentice Junior Content Producer. The pressures of people enrolling into university and finding jobs made me question if what I was doing was wrong, and maybe the only option was to apply to university, as I could see no end to the continuous cycle of waking up, applying to jobs, going to sleep, and waking up the next day living in a relentless cycle.. I knew with my 3 A-stars I could apply to a good university and course, but it wasn’t something I wanted to do, it never was, but for the sake of having a career, I was willing to risk my desires to simply fit in. Having Asian parents never made it easier. Questioning why I never went to university, what I wanted to do, when I didn’t have the answer myself (btw still don’t have the answer…) and for them the only thing they wanted me to get was a degree because apparently that is the only worthy qualification I can get.

But anyways, having been at the job for almost 7-8 months, it has been the best challenge I’ve ever take on. I’ve learnt new skills I never knew I could do like editing videos and creating character illustrations, to designing graphics for everyone to see. When you see your work being published it definitely is a proud moment. I could go on and on about why I never regretted my choice to NOT go to university and how I knew going to university would have ruined my mental health, but just know that at this point in my life I have never worked so hard for a job I am proud of. Meeting new people and having a supportive team has done the most at building my confidence, although I still try my best to avoid speaking to people in new situations… I’ll slowly get there one day but it’s no rush.

I guess the main message from me then is even though I am working at a job I love, I still have no idea what I am going to be doing 5-10 years down the line, even next year, as we can’t predict the structure of our lives as much as you think you can. Don’t succumb to pressure from people as we should be allowed to grow up as nature allows, but somehow the pressures of thinking about a career as early of primary school, has forced children into adulthood too early which is one of the reasons mental health is such a big issue currently. So, if you find anyone pestering you, just tell them to jog on and worry about themselves with a big smile! 😊

Abida Ali, Cohort 34, Junior Content Producer Apprentice at Cadent Gas


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