25 February 2013

Frankly: Decision made

Completely irrelevant, but this entire photostream is gorgeous. 

First off I apologise for this post being all over the place. I always write these 'Frankly' pieces as a stream of consciousness and I apologise for random changes in direction or spelling mistakes ;) These past few weeks have been full of thinking for me, about the direction I want my life to take & the decisions I need to make (or not make) in order to get there. I've been getting really stressed about the fact that I don't have everything  'planned out', and although a lot of this is self induced, I also feel like there's a lot of pressure on young people to have their futures completely mapped out. For a long while, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do - so this sudden uncertainty has been pretty hard for me to deal with.

When I was 17 I applied to study for a degree in Environmental Science at 5 different Universities in the UK. I felt like I knew where my life was going. I'd done a lot of research into  the career opportunities that different degree programmes would give me and I decided that ES would be the best way forward. I was accepted onto a MEnvSci at Sheffield,  planned to graduate in 2014 and then look for work as an Environmental Consultant. If I'm being honest, this career plan was heavily financially motivated - I wanted to study something that (a) I was interested in and would enjoy, but (b) would lead me into a 'good' career (i.e. one that was highly paid).  At that point in my life, 'successful' to me equated with a job that was highly paid - and that was pretty much it. Right up until the start of my third year this was the plan.

I'm not entirely sure when I began to question whether it was really what I wanted - but by the time Christmas came around it was really playing on my mind. Sleepless nights and confused conversations with my Mum were a regular occurrence and it began to really get me down. For the record, yes I do talk though every major decision with my Mum, because she's awesome (Hi Mum!) I tried to convince myself that I was okay with not knowing, that I'd just figure it out later - but it never really worked. Its not that I have to plan my life out down to the last little detail - but there's a real difference between taking some time to consider your options, and deliberately postponing decisions because you don't really want to think about things. At this point I had 4 options:

1) Continue with the course I'm currently studying - I was accepted onto an Undergraduate Masters course when I applied to Uni. This basically entails studying for 4 years and graduating with a Masters degree at the end of it - no Bachelors degree and you complete your Masters course in 9 months.

2) Switch onto the BSc, graduate & do a Masters degree elsewhere.

3) Switch onto the BSc, graduate and attempt to find a job...

4) Apply for PhD programmes. My personal tutor surprised the hell out of me by calling me into his office and giving me details of a fully funded, salaried, 3.5 year PhD programme he was running that he wanted me to apply for.

My biggest problem was that all of these options were good. I was so fortunate to be in this position and I felt bad for making such a big deal out of it (which didn't exactly help...!). By the end of the Christmas holidays I'd discounted the PhD - it was highly unlikely that I'd be accepted anyway, but after finishing my research project I realised that I really wouldn't want to spend 3.5 years of my life studying the associations between soil fungus and potatoes. I just don't think research is my thing.

Fast forward several weeks & I've finally made my mind up. I think in my heart of hearts I knew all along which path would be best for me, but sometimes its really hard to just go with your gut - especially when logically you're not sure its the right decision. Right now, I'm not sure a Masters programme is the best thing for me - in fact, I know it isn't the best thing for me. I've loved studying for my degree and I've loved the experience of University, but the thought of spending another year decoding scientific journals, writing essays, designing experiments, measuring 240 plants 3x a week with a ruler & studying for exams just... doesn't appeal to me. At all. In fact, I sort of hate the idea.

So in 4 months time, I'll be finished. The exam period officially ends on the 8th June, so sometime around then I'll be packing everything into boxes and rucksacks, leaving this house & saying goodbye to this city. I won't be going to graduation because I'm in Costa Rica, so that'll pretty much be it. Weirdly, this is the decision with the most uncertainty - but I'm happy & kind of excited. More and more I'm realising that I could never do something I hated just because the money was good - some people can, and in a strange way I admire that - but its not me.

Same photostream... Mark Twain was a very wise man.
Call me young, naive and idealistic (but don't, I'll get upset) - but I want a bit more out of life than getting out of bed every morning and dreading going to work. Experience has taught me that life is far too short, and far too precious to settle for that. So maybe this isn't what I planned when I was 17, maybe its not what other people think I should be doing, maybe it'll turn out to be a mistake (hope not). But it feels right, and that's good enough for me 

To anyone that made it to the end...I appreciate you x (and if you just happen to have my perfect job going spare... then y'know, email me)

This is part of Frankly: a series where I write about stuff that I think + don't really proofread. You can find other Frankly posts here


  1. What is the bloggers equivalent of a standing ovation? Whatever it is, I'm doing it. Congrats on your decision, Vic.xx

  2. Tough decision to make, but it will work out for the best in the end! There is far too much pressure for 17/18 year olds to know exactly what they want to do with their lives, and it is by far the better decision to take the time to step back and work out what's right for you.

    Even though I graduated last year and have been working since August, I still feel as though I haven't quite sorted my life direction yet. But I figure that doesn't matter so much, and it's better just to enjoy the ride for the time being!

  3. If you change your mind, there's nothing stopping you from going back, so why rush?! You're only young my darling! Sounds like the time to have an adventure xxxx

  4. You are so young and.. yeah I'm not going to say that last line you just said not to say, I was going to type it all out as a joke but then realised you might not read to the end of the comment and then I'd feel awful for upsetting you haha

    I think you should be really proud of yourself actually. I'm like you in the way that I can't do something simply because the money is good. I've had 2 jobs since uni that have felt that way (taken simply because it's really hard to get a job in the field I actually want to go into) and waking up dreading work is just the worst feeling. It might sound dramatic but somedays I'd wake up and cry because I hated my job so much.

    Having a job I enjoy has made such a huge difference to my outlook on everything in life.. some people can switch off after a job they dislike and just carry on as normal, but for me dedicating so much of my life to something that was making me miserable just affected every area of my world.. I get the feeling you would feel the same way as me

    I hope you find a job you love, you really deserve to x

  5. Well after reading this I know that Environmental Science isn't for me either. I think you ate doing the right thing for sure! I've learned to always listen to my gut! Oh, and I'm 31 years old and still always ask my mom for advise as well! :)

  6. Hehe, this post could have been written by me! I applied for a combined MSc course, then changed my mind in second year. I had originally planned to do the full PhD route but then got bored with the research and wanted to live life.

    So, I think you've made the right decision, as it's the one I made! And I discuss all decisions with my Mum too :)

  7. Yay for self discovery! Congratulations on you big life decision :) It might not be easy but at least you'll be happy!
    I, too, consult with my mom on just about everything :)

  8. A very brave move - I recently made (and blogged)about an important decision about uni too. I think you should trust your heart, and so the right thing for you - it takes courage, but it's so the right thing to do! x

  9. love this post. i want to give you a great big ol virtual high five for being you! xo

  10. I'm so proud of you vic! I know its been a really hard time deciding and reading your blog i really wanted to skip to the end to see what you'd decided- its like reading a good book! Lol i thinking finishing uni will be good for you and we can job hunt together, exciting times :) xxx

  11. Hooray for big decisions! Theres no point forcing yourself into something you'll be miserable in. So exciting to see a post like this!


    I know you know that you made the right choice. And frankly (no pun intended) thats all that matters!

  13. I agree that there's so much pressure for young people to know what they're doing with my life. There's this total trend of graduate high school, go to college, get your master's, land job, get married, blablblabla... and I've started to realize that we're all individuals and it just doesn't WORK that way. I feel that a lot of people would value their education much much more if they had taken a year of traveling or working some shitty job. I think it's very hard for people to know exactly what they want to do unless they've tried it.. and let's face it, university is way to expensive to go along 'trying' everything. You have a long life ahead of you, and even if you make mistakes along the way, those mistakes will shape you into a better person and give you an idea of what you REALLY want to do.

  14. WELL DONE you for choosing something which is right for you, rather than dong what you think you should. I don't think anyone actually knows what they're doing as a young 20-something- I certainly don't. And yes to talking through major decisions with your mum! I do this with eeeeeverything. x


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