I now have two options, do I say I don’t care how I got in, just that I did? Or do I say that I don’t want the offer if it’s not based on my own merit?
It’s been a whirlwind 2 weeks at work and I have been meaning to update but I just couldn’t carve out the time to do so (it was all spent sleeping). My big update of the week is that I got my results a few days ago and I am incredibly proud of myself. I know I cannot always blame my condition for things that do not turn out well in my life but this is my first year where I have not been hospitalised because of Sickle and it was nice to see how well I can perform when I am unhindered. I have 20 credits left to do before graduation and now I am counting down the days to when I receive my diploma.
Anyway, I did have a topic in mind this week, which is about university and exams. It’s something that has lingered on my mind since before I started my degree and I think now is the perfect time to get it off my chest.
I remember when I first got an offer from my university. I had strong predicted grades to get in to the university itself so while I wasn’t too nervous about that aspect, the acceptance process included an interview and maths test. I absolutely bombed my interview, I had never been more nervous about anything in my life. To this day I still remember how sick I felt on the train ride up. This was something I wanted so badly and I knew I couldn’t afford to mess it up. Miraculously I got an offer and I was so proud of myself. My parents were too of course, and I know my friends had applied for similar courses who didn’t get in so I knew it was a big achievement.
My sixth form was relatively small and since we had all grown up with each other, everyone knew everyone. As soon as I had gotten the good news, I messaged my friends and information like that spread like wildfire, so by the next morning everyone knew that I had gotten in. One of the girls that I was never really friends with came up to me and said something about my university having a quota. It was a throwaway comment, but it stuck with me for all these years. My course is very small – we started with 50 and there are much less than that now with almost half of the course failing an exam – and I was very aware that there were exactly 5 black students.
Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t bother me at all, they’re nice enough but none of them are my friends. Of course we’re more likely to have similarities in terms of culture and upbringing but that is not a requirement for friendship. I remember sitting in my economics class in sixth form and it taking me the best part of a year for me to clock that I was the only black student. The thing that did prey on my mind however, was the fact that 5/50 is exactly 10%. Being a female, ethnic minority student with a disability, was I always going to get in? Is there some kind of university policy that states that there must be at least 10% black students?
This got me thinking about my condition. As much as it is an inhibitor to studying, social life etc. what opportunities have I been granted because of it, or because of the colour of my skin? I now have two options, do I say I don’t care how I got in, just that I did? Or do I say that I don’t want the offer if it’s not based on my own merit? I know the work-place isn’t as ‘soft’ as this, while people with disabilities do normally get to skip the first application stages, they have an equal chance as any. And the Equality Act now means that you can get through to the final stages without the interviewers knowing anything about you other than your merit. But the course that I am on is a big leg up to the direction I want to go on. It provides me with great opportunities and I don’t know where I would be without it. If I wasn’t black, or female, or with a disability, would I still have gotten an offer?
But this results day especially has helped me reach a conclusion to this dilemma. I have been so proud of my results, the ability to know my potential and see it being realised is something that I have not had fully for a long time.
I have concluded that I deserve to be here, and, at this point in time, I don’t think anyone else could tell me otherwise. I am on this course with people older than me, people who went to private schools, people who have a higher household income than me. And yet, these people have failed exams, had to leave the course, and I am still here. That’s not to say that I am better than them, but over the last 4 years I have proven my worth and proven that I deserve a place on my degree. I have proven it to myself, and since I am my harshest critic and biggest celebrant, that’s really all that matters.
So I guess the message for this post is that if you ever have any doubts as to your potential or even self-worth, try and remember your journey so far. Odds are it hasn’t been plain sailing, there’s been bumps in the road and sometimes you’ve fallen, but you’ve always gotten back up. It doesn’t matter if you have a medical condition or not, we’ve all been in the same position and likely to be there in the future.
I can’t guarantee I’ll update every week for a while – it may have to be bi-monthly. Anyway, I hope the message has been somewhat helpful, these results have really helped me close a chapter in my life that has been open for way too long. Of course I imagine it’ll still be open a crack until graduation but I feel much better about it all.
Also I hope this shows the power one small, throwaway sentence can have on someone. I can and often do shrug most things off, and encourage others to do the same. But this doesn’t mean we should say things without first considering their potential impact on another person. I’m not going to say something cheesy like spread happiness wherever you may go, but engaging your brain with your mouth is a small step in the right direction.
Anyway I’ve been very preachy today, I guess this is what you get when I write a post on a Sunday after Church. Gravity time;
I’ve given up asking rhetorical questions. What’s the point?