University was a hard slog for me.
I came out of high school with an ATAR over 90 but no idea what I wanted to do with my life. So, I did what everyone else does. I put my preferences in and chose to study an arts degree at RMIT. Five weeks into the course, I felt completely lost and decided to drop out without telling my mum or dad.
Anyone with traditional Maltese parents will know that was a bloody hard decision to make and I was going to cop it big time when I finally got the courage to tell them what I had done. While they love me more than anything in the world, they both have a very clear vision of what my life will look like. I’ll study for three years, find a full-time job, move out, get married and start a family. And the fact that I deviated from that path was going to disappoint them.
I remember feeling so sick the day I told them that my parents thought I was pregnant. And while I was expecting my dad to fling a chair at me, he was actually incredibly understanding. After breaking the news to him, I spent a few months working my ass off at Kmart and saved enough money to take off to Europe for 12 weeks.
It was the best thing I have ever done because I was given the space to work out who I was away from expectation. Away from the pressure of who everyone else wanted me to be.
When I came back, I went straight into a public relations degree at Swinburne University of Technology. Instantly, I knew I was in the right place. The people in my classes were like-minded and I was slaying every assessment. I could see myself working in the industry, so things were finally starting to look up. Until one day, I was signing into Blackboard to submit an assignment and I couldn’t login. I thought it was bizarre, so I went to student services to see what had gone wrong, and that’s when I learned that I had been unenrolled from my course because I forgot to fill in a fucking HECS form.
It’s fair to say I was hysterical. I offered to pay for my course upfront, but it was too late. The damage had been done and those five weeks of course work were wasted.
At this point, there was no way I could tell my parents what happened because they would have disowned me. They would have thrown me onto the street and made me change my last name. So, I pretended to go to university for an entire semester, hoping the nightmare would be over and I’d be able to move on with my life. And for someone who is useless at lying, this was a real challenge for me.
But three years have passed, and the good news is my parents never suspected a thing. I persevered through my degree and I am now two weeks away from my last day on campus. I have close to three years of industry experience behind me and a fulltime job lined up when I graduate.
And while it has been a rollercoaster of emotions, I wouldn’t change a single thing about it. Because I wasn’t ready to commit to three years of full-time study in 2014 and if I listened to my parents, I would be in a very different position than I am today. So, for all the VCE students trying to decide what their next steps will be, go easy on yourself. Don’t let other people influence the path you take and if something doesn’t feel right, leave.
These are simultaneously the most challenging and exciting years of your life so put yourself first and enjoy the ride.
Keep killing it,