So I did. It took me three years, countless sleepless nights, the very occasional night out, the late night library sessions, the group study sessions, the lectures, the seminars, the far-too-much-reading-that-I-definitely-mostly-pretended-to-do but I am there. A graduate. I have graduated with a First Class degree from Kingston University in Creative Writing and Drama. #Boom!
There has been many a facebook update on this event. My news feed is littered with pictures of my friends with their families, or my friends throwing their hats into the air, or just sets of friends having pictures taken together as they say what could possibly be final goodbyes. (I make it sound as if I wasn’t spamming facebook with my Instagrammed to the max pictures. Trust me I was! #GenYGenYWeSoFine!) It’s a lovely time and, to be honest, I didn’t really feel like making a few choice sentences about it when I have a blog that I can write a goddamn essay on. So here is my goddamn essay.
I will start with a thank you to every lecturer, every tutor, every member of library and admin staff, and every student who helped me along the way. For some of you it was fleeting, a single performance or a single meeting or a single class, for others it was a number of sessions, and for a select few, well, you just couldn’t get rid of me so it was something of a three year (and hopefully beyond that) slog. You have helped me get through the last three years and I don’t know how I would have coped without you. In third year, there was the added help and support of boyfriend, who has been endlessly brilliant. So much love!
I’ve been and done many things over the past three years and maybe there are things I should apologise for, but there is one thing that I won’t apologise for, and that is being who I am. (AND NEITHER SHOULD YOU!) I am unashamedly myself and, with that in mind, I won’t apologise for being a nutcase, or being neurotic, or being loud, or crying, or just plain old panicking about my degree. I won’t apologise for eating chocolate/crisps/M&S Salad/Boots Meal Deal/Subway (#YUS!) in one of the library study rooms as I was trying to finish that essay, or for camping out down the aisles because there were no seats the night before a deadline, or for not wearing shoes. I hate wearing shoes. I won’t apologise for how quickly/loudly I type #GetOnMyLevel, I wont apologise for tweeting what I tweet, saying what I say, or holding the opinions that I hold and I definitely won’t apologise for nearly bursting into tears when I handed over my dissertation or finished the final night of my end of year show. They were both important, even if they were just important for a year.
I feel quite proud to say that I come out of Uni without any regrets and, given the chance, I would probably do it all exactly the same way. Maybe I’d have less Pizza. (Ha! No!) I wasn’t a party animal, because that’s not who I am, and I’m glad I didn’t change in that respect. I argued with people, my social media life became a focus for all of 24 hours due to some choice tweeting (which I will never apologise for), I told people exactly what I thought of them and, over the years, I cut ties with a few people and I am glad I did because negative influences just weigh you down. I finished Uni feeling like I know who my friends are (most are in these pictures, some are not, one is totes Bonnie Greer!), and I am very glad of that. And I have grown.
I guess, in a way, we have all grown. It is more than just in days, and weeks, and months, and years, it is in the way we act towards one another. I feel like a different person. I owe that partly to my lecturers, partly to my friends, partly to my boyfriend and partly to me just growing a pair and saying what I think. I’ve started to become the kind of person that calls people out on their bullshit. Maybe I shouldn’t be proud of that, but I sort of am. That is someone I never used to be, but I can now say with great certainty, that I have the ability to stand up for myself. I have grown.
A speech was given at our ceremony, one by Bonnie Greer that I feel I could never paraphrase well enough to put on here, and another by a lecturer who I had never seen before. He was talking about how while our education is over, but we never stop learning. And that is something that I just keep on thinking about. Because it’s true. We never stop learning, if we let ourselves, and I like that thought. I finished Uni back in May and, 5 months on, I feel like I have learned so much! I have signed to an agent, Sam Copeland at RCW (a story for another day), for my first novel, I have decided to change jobs despite loving life as a bookseller, and I have been to so many events and met so many people brilliant people (both in the book industry and not) that I can just feel myself changing and altering all the time. I am being moulded by my various influences and finding the place where I fit in the world, carving it with my actions and working out where I sit. Wherever that may be. And I find that thought to be utterly terrifying. But I will embrace it. And I will strive on and see where I am a year from now. Off into the great unknown. And I guess that’s part of the fun, the not knowing. Three years ago, almost to the day in fact, I couldn’t see myself even coming back for my second year at University, but here I am. I am a graduate of Kingston University, and I am proud of that fact. I wouldn’t change it for the world. Not one bit.