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I am no stranger to feeling like the black sheep everywhere I go. Yes, I have a loving family and a solid network of friends, but like thousands of other people like myself that are at the age of being "not quite sure" and "in between," I have always felt like there is something greater out there than what I have now. Whether that be more money, better friends, a more beautiful place to be, or more meaningful relationships with those around me, I've always wanted something more, but never quite known how to get to it.
Going to Uni Just to Leave Home—Worth It?
I thought for a while (probably because it was expected of me) that university would be the making of me. I wouldn't feel so unsure and just generally weird about myself. I thought I would get there, make all of my lifelong friends in the first week, and become passionate about the subject I assumed would be most beneficial to choose for a career in God-knows-what. I thought my old life would vanish and there would be some meaning in everything I did and the people I met. I thought I could finally get away from my family, I could be free and live exactly how I want to live with no questions asked by the people I was obliged to live with.
It didn't happen. In reality, I had no money, the flat I got handed was a bit sh#t (ten people, one kitchen, and only three semi-likable people), politics was dreadfully boring, and I had no clue what I was going to do with my life. I hated it. My mum had spent a small fortune on new things for me; she paid for my room for those three months and she would be devastated to know that I had just given up. But the sad thing is, that didn't even really matter to me. I just didn't want to go back home again.
Don't get me wrong, my family are good people and they're supportive. They're only so intrusive on my life because they care. There are worse families to be assigned at birth. They're OK. But for some reason, even from when I was a child, I just wanted to go. I wanted to get out, I wanted to meet strange people and have to answer to nobody because I, like so many others, have just craved independence since I exited my mums womb. Maybe it's a thing that only the children of strict parents can totally get, but maybe not. I was stuck with this unfortunate life-dilemma: should I stay or should I go? Could I give up the freedom that university brings because it wasn't what I expected? Is freedom worth taking all this excess crap? Would I still be just as miserable at home? I'm sure this confusion has been felt by countless people before me, and there is no answer! I have a friend who I'll call Laura who absolutely detests being at uni, but she doesn't want to A.) disappoint her parents and B.) look like a failure. The pressure on young people to go to university in today's Britain is unbelievable.
Anyway, the point is, there is no right or wrong answer to this dilemma (which is not what people want to hear most), but it is very important to look at what truly matters and think about how much certain aspects of going to university mean to you. What means most to you? Living away from mum and dad? Being in a new city? Doing your degree? If you are stuck and don't want to stay there but hate the idea of going home like me, there are some things that helped me influence my decision.
- Would doing this degree really be that bad?
- Is it so awful living with these people?
- Was life less enjoyable before or after moving to uni?
- Will your parents change?
No matter what you choose, mental health always comes first. Parents can be tricky, but if uni doesn't work out it, may not be worth staying there just because you don't want to go back to your parents. Think, is there any way you can help yourself? Could you work and get yourself a place? Would someone/an organisation help you? Or can you do anything with uni to maybe change your course so that your situation isn't that bad? I'm sure you can guess what decision I took, but either way, look after yourself first. You don't HAVE to be with your parents if you don't go to university. It may take time, but with the right mind, you could be out of there soon. Also, a side note, please don't let guilt come into any decisions you make. You do not live for your parents. You don't have to feel bad for leaving university or staying there just because of the freedom. It'll all work out in the end, but mental health should always be the top priority.