Where to next?

Three years ago I received a letter in the post. Three years ago I was the happiest person on earth. Three years ago I got accepted onto the BA Community and Youth Work Degree in Maynooth University. I had it all planned out, go to college, spend my three years there, get my professional degree and work in the youth sector, little did I know how much the next three years would challenge me, inspire me, motivate me and change me.

I made it trough first year, delighted I was well and truly on the path to becoming a qualified youth worker, but then, I didn’t quiet make it through second year. I struggled through my second year placement, a combination of DBT, self-harm and the general day-to-day struggles of BPD made it ever so challenging. I completed my placement, handing in the research task which had been set at the beginning of the three months and having developed relationships with a number of young people I had been engaging with feeling I had achieved something and to be honest I wasn’t too worried about progressing, I thought I had essentially passed my placement.

On my return to college I found out that I had not had a successful placement, a combination of the above severely impacted my professional capacity and hindered my work presenting the college department with a number of questions surrounding my abilities. We had a meeting, I was given the news and to be honest I was devastated. I had worked so hard to get onto this course, personal assessments, exams, interviews and group interviews, I had given it my heart and soul and then, then it was all being taken away from me and I was utterly devastated!

I was present with three options:

Redo my placement during the summer- the promise of surgery meant that this was not possible as I would not be able to complete the entire three months.

Take a year out- the fact that I was already struggling with my meant health meant that any form of unstructured long periods of time would just feed into my anxieties and low mood.

Switch my degree to applied social studies- initially I wasn’t sure what this entailed completely but it meant remaining with my class, not doing a placement and simply taking up extra modules and provided I passed everything I would still be graduating with them.

And so I finished out my second year and before coming to the end I had made the decision to switch my degree course as long as it meant remaining with the community and youth work class and just dipping in and out of other modules with the third year social studies group.

Beginning third year was tough, I was terrified it was almost as if I was starting college all over again. My class were away on placement for the first three months, which meant that I was taking up extra modules with a new group. Terrified I made it through the first couple of weeks before having to take almost eight weeks out because of my jaw surgery. Nevertheless I kept up with all the notes, I completed my assignments and passed them all and was delighted to have made it through without any major hiccups. Come January I was back with my class, taking modules with them while also picking up extra modules to ensure I could get my social studies degree and I have to say it has changed everything for me.

I have developed greater understandings of social issues, changed my perspective on things, ignited my passions for equality issues and developed an intriguing interest in human rights and philosophy. Despite initially being upset, disappointed and somewhat confused about having to make a change to applied social studies the broad nature of the course, the wide variety of issues discussed and the different approaches to learning have opened up a world of opportunities for me. I came into college knowing that I had something to give, I knew that I had something positive within me that could contribute to making a change in someone’s life and three years ago I though that was through youth work, now, now I’m not so sure. I know I have something to give, I know I have the ability to create a change in our society but the methods I use in order to make that change have changed.

I’m not sure what I want to do next; I’m not sure how I am going to make the change I need to. Whether it is through youth work or journalism, through psychology or philosophy, through law or community work, I haven’t a clue but what I do know is that I am young and I have time to figure these things out, there’s no rush!

Yesterday I finished college, I cried (a lot), I laughed and I know that I’m going to miss the amazing bunch of people I have spent the last three years with, but I know its not the end. Their support, encouragement and guidance has got me to the end of this degree and without them I would not have made it, they were beyond fantastic. They have helped me grow and develop, stuck by me when times were tough and showed me that no matter what have the ability to decide our futures. I know yesterday we said goodbye but I know it wont be for good, because no matter what we went through as a class, we always came back together to support each other through the hard times.

Throughout the years these guys always had my back!
For now my focus is on enjoying the next few months!

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