Despite Everything

I'm not very good at this reality business, me.

When I was a little girl, I wanted to become a scientist. I used to daydream about being a proper grown-up student learning science. Then, of course, I grew up to be an angsty and annoying adolescent, but "being dead" and "science" were my two main goals. And then my brain decided to fuck out on me big time during my last two years of school, during which my grades plummeted, I actually had to work to do even moderately well compared to GCSEs, and I was rejected from my dream university.

Yeah, sixth form sucked.

Actually, I was rejected from four out of the five universities I applied to. Let me tell you, this does absolutely nothing for your confidence or self-esteem. I spent most of sixth form crying and feeling like a failure - clearly, I did not use my hard-won independence well at all. Only Manchester gave me an offer and it was 2 A*s and an A.

Reader, I missed my offer. I worked so hard I fell ill for six weeks and I still missed my offer - by a couple of marks, but still. I was an edge case. I have spent the past two years being acutely aware that if I hadn't made a good impression at my interview, I wouldn't be here. It has motivated me to fight to stay on my course, get to grips with revising properly, and just generally act like a responsible adult who knows to look after herself.

Some days I can't quite believe it. I was sitting in a café with my friend one day looking out at the campus and it hit me, it just hit me, that I succeeded. By the skin of my teeth, yes, but I succeeded.

The angsty suicidal kid who was convinced she was going to fail was wrong. She didn't die. She grew into a woman doing her dream degree at a good university (and there are some upsides to not going to Oxford, she now knows). She grew from a shy, awkward kid with few friends into a woman who is open and approachable and may not be the most popular person in the room, but who is surrounded by love and trust and safety. She is learning to ask for help when she needs it and to keep going despite everything

There are days when I realise that shit, I did it. I'm the woman that the younger me dreamed of being - well, not quite. I have more scars, for a start. But I managed to do what I want to do. That's something really, really rare. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I'm not dreaming, that this is real. That for now, I made it.