Why dropping out of college was the best thing I could do

I graduated high school in 2014. That’s 3 years ago so I should probably (almost) be graduating from college by now, right? WRONG! 

High school was always really fun for me. Sure, I got bullied in the beginning, but I got over that. I didn’t necessarily have a lot of friends, but I’m pretty introverted anyway. I always got decent grades without ever having to really try. All in all, I liked high school.

When I was about 15 or 16 years old, in the fifth year, things changed for me. Something happened in my personal life which completely messed with my head. I couldn’t have fun anymore and basically cried myself to sleep for almost a year. I went from being the quirky happy kid to being the slightly less quirky kid at school and the depressed pile of shit at home. I don’t know if people at my high school really knew what was going on with me. Well, I think they all knew what was going on, but I don’t think they knew how much it affected me. I always kept up an act for the people around me.

Anyway, you get it, year 5 and 6 were basically hell. But I was strong enough to get help and got out of my funk. I learned how to be happy again and actually got excited by the idea of going to college. New people, a new city, basically a new start.

Since I’ve always loved the English language, I decided I’d study to become a translater/interpreter. The only thing I was afraid of was the third language. Dutch and English were the obvious choices, but we were supposed to master 3 languages. I could already speak French and German (ish), but I never “loved” those languages. Spanish seemed exciting so I chose that.

That first year was amazing. I lived in Ghent, the student city in Belgium, made friends for life, and generally just had a great time. One thing I noticed, though, was that I was quite tired all the time. I thought that was just typical for students so I didn’t go see a doctor.

By the end of that year, it was clear that Spanish (and quite honestly Dutch, too) wasn’t my strong suit. I basically failed almost every class aside from English and I felt like I just couldn’t do it. I just didn’t understand Spanish and I knew I didn’t have the energy to re-take all of the exams in one month.

So, with a broken heart, I decided to try something else: graphic and digital media. Video had also always been something I enjoyed, so it seemed like the right choice.

College started in September, but in I think June, I felt empty and like something wasn’t quite right. So I went to get my blood tested. Turned out I had had glandular fever or “infectious mononucleosis”. That’s basically just a big word for “MY BODY IS TIRED ALL THE TIME!”. Now, you should know that normally, this disease only lasts for a few week, a few months at most, and that the people who have it generally stay at home or in bed for most of that time. I had had it for 6 months and still went to school. And all because I didn’t want to seem like a drama queen!

Anyway, since there’s no cure, I just had to take energy pills and wait it out. Those pills didn’t do shit, though!

I attended my first year of graphic and digital media and -after re-taking most of them- I passed 80% of my classes! SCORE! I wasn’t a complete failure after all!

I got tested a few times that year, and the results showed that I still had glandular fever. I didn’t need to get tested, though! I slept at least 10 hours a night and hadn’t felt “awake” in more than a year. I knew I was still sick.

Then the second year of college rolled by. That’s when it all went to shit again. It felt like staying in bed was the only thing I could do. A simple thing like taking the bus to school required too much energy and I just couldn’t do it. I got help again. I went to see a therapist once every two weeks because I thought it was all in my head. How was it possible that I was still sick after 2 years with a disease that was only supposed to last a few weeks? Obviously, I failed nearly all my classes in the first semester and I was back to crying myself to sleep at night. My therapist advised me to look into dropping out of college, and honestly, by that point that was all I wanted to do. To drop out.

But I couldn’t do that to my parents, right? They had paid so much money for me to go to college over the last 2,5 years. And I couldn’t just throw that away, right? Also, they had just moved from my childhood home into an appartment. I couldn’t just move in there and ruin their quiet new life!

I was still so depressed and tired that I decided to introduce the idea anyway. What was the point in paying even more if I knew there was no way I would be able to finish the year? I was so lucky that my parents understood. They knew what was going on with me and were glad I had the courage to make a big decision like that.

It wasn’t easy, but I’m glad I placed my wellbeing above what people expected from me. People around me are graduating from college now, and that is kind of painful, but I’ll get there! Someday.

Since dropping out, I’ve been helping out at my parents’ little café. I haven’t just been sitting at home all this time, that would be dreadful! It might sound cliché, but I’ve found myself. I have experienced and learned things I probably would have never learned or done if I was still at college. Dropping out made me better in a way. My blood still shows signs of glandular fever, but my doctor has recommended me to get tested for CFS. I’m still quite tired, but this mental break has been great! I think I’m the happiest I’ve ever been, and I’m so so so thankful for my parents for letting me take this break. In September I’m starting a one-year course at a different school. Gotta get that degree!

If you’re reading this and are thinking about dropping out yourself, but you’re too scared to actually do so. The only advice I can give you is think and talk about it! I can only speak for myself, but dropping out was probably one of the best things I’ve ever done. You’ve got time. Live your life at your own pace, you’ll get there! You shouldn’t just drop out, though! Make sure your situation actually allows you to take that step. You don’t want to do anything you’ll regret. Again, think and talk.

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