“Beneath the layer of outward smiles and wisecracks, there was a girl who found herself crying in the arts block bathrooms from time to time, mourning the thought that her dreams had eluded her and she was stuck in academic apathy and mundanity for four years”
Freshers’ Week brought with it a flurry of new people, the compulsory Freshers’ flu and a few of the worst hangovers I’ve ever endured. Yet by the end of it I had formed friendships, navigated my way around Dublin City, and managed not to starve in the absence of home cooking. I thrived in the lively social scene. I found myself remembering the stress and strain of sixth year, reflecting on how it had been worth all the turbulence and emotional exhaustion to arrive at this contented point.
Yet I soon began to feel plagued by a nagging sense that something was awry. Every facet of my life seemed in place – and then the explanation fell into my lap. I was unhappy in my course. After a month-long high of social events and newfound freedom, the veneer of joy disappeared to reveal a deep-rooted dissatisfaction. So I jumped on the course transfer bandwagon with fresh hope that I would seamlessly move from BESS into English.
Friends reassured me that: “it’s grand once you have the points. Sure everyone gets it”. Renewed by this thought, I sought out reading lists and began catching up. I tentatively attended a few English lectures and met with heads of departments, hoping they’d see my willingness to commit. A week after the transfer deadline I had heard nothing. Two weeks later, I was on edge. I bombarded my tutor with daily emails; “Have you heard anything?”, “Please let me know the outcome when you can”, “Any word from Academic Registry?” Nothing.
When rejection came it was short and inconsiderate: “Your application has been denied”, it read. So I pulled up my socks and got on with it. I tried with every fibre of my being to channel some enthusiasm into BESS, attempting desperately to summon excitement about demand and supply curves or scientific management. My brain felt stale from the course content, however, and incessant thoughts began to intrude: “Admit it, you don’t like this course let alone love it. You’re bored, unstimulated. Don’t settle, strive for something else”. Happy, happy, happy. Was I happy? What even is happy? Maybe I should aim for just not being miserable rather than happy.
At the heart of it all was happiness and eventually I had to confront my own self-denial. Beneath the layer of outward smiles and wisecracks, there was a girl who found herself crying in the arts block bathrooms from time to time, mourning the thought that her dreams had eluded her and she was stuck in academic apathy and mundanity for four years. The wondrous voice filtering through my first piece was so far removed from this person who felt on the verge of an existential meltdown.
I am not here to rant about the unfairness of the transfer system. After an overall life evaluation I made the decision to drop out- which is hard to type. The words seem sullied by a societal pressure which every one of us is expected to conform to. Throughout my entire school life things have always been so clearly marked out, with the ultimate goal of getting to college. I never could have expected there to be such a dramatic bump in the road. I never thought I would be waving goodbye to Trinity after a mere ten weeks. Academic ability is only one measure of success however and I remain confident that I shall turn this period of ‘time off’ into one of success. Travel, language learning, financial independence.
Despite the enthusiasm I now write with, only a month ago I had deemed myself a definite “failure” for even daring to consider the option of leaving university. I feel angry that my original course choices were all influenced by societal expectations, the likelihood of getting a job, being rational and ignoring my intuition. Although this decision has been one of the most difficult I’ve ever had to make, I feel secure in the knowledge that following my heart always trumps trailing after the crowd. Always.