It feels weird to say it to be honest, but it happened. After finishing my second year studying Fine Art in Leeds I decided to drop out. I think this will be a really controversial decision and I totally get both sides of it, but as people are thinking long and hard about what decision they're going to make for this upcoming September, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to chat a little about my personal experience with university and education as a whole.
There's been no doubt in my mind from a young age that I wanted to be a creative. The academic side of schooling never really gave me the same buzz as being able to actually create something. Art has always been a prominent love in my life, both painting, and photography but when it came down to studying it at a higher level, I lost that fuzzy feeling. I did a year studying at sixth form before leaving to study two years on an Extended Diploma in Art and Design, I specialized in fine art and loved it until it was time to think about university. At this point in my life, I had just turned 19 and didn't really see any obvious path for progression in my job at the time. With a little peer pressure from family, friends, and tutors, I signed up to continue my studies on a Degree. I think that's one of the main problems I faced, going to university never really seemed like my decision. I didn't know what I wanted, and I'm definitely glad I went, but throughout my two years studying I always had that little bit of doubt, "is this really what I want?".
I started working on the Payments and Fraud team for one of the biggest companies in the UK and the doubts grew more and more prominent. I lost inspiration for my art, and I lacked that "get up and go" I used to strive on. Things had changed. I had changed, and I guess most importantly, the course had changed. It's important to note here that I decided to continue my studies with the same establishment I studied my Extended Diploma with. I was familiar with the staffing members, the building and of course what they expected from us. But the University now is a very different place to what I signed up with. I used to love how invested they were with each individual student and really went above and beyond to help you with any projects or ideas you had dreamt up. Now, I feel like it's a competition; student versus student. I definitely feel as though some of my projects were marked down because of the controversial topics I covered, at the end of the day, I wasn't creating the type of art that the establishment wanted us all to create. I have a real love for photography, telling a story and for giving the unseen a tangible form; I covered things from domestic abuse to equality within genders and the social impact media has on us while my fellow students created abstract works that channeled the likes of Jackson Pollock.
I've been working for this company for 7 months now and within that time frame have already had so many exciting new prospects presented to me. You could say I've had my head turned and I've made a stupid mistake for dropping out of uni with just a year to go, but honestly, I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I'm still going to create art, but for me. It's going to be refreshing to create the works i'm interested in without being judged or marked down for their strong underlying messages. I can dedicate more time to my family and friends, my job, but I can also start to become the creative I always saw myself to be. I can not wait to start blogging more again. I feel like when I decided to go to university I really sacrificed my blog - any long time readers of this space will understand exactly what I mean.
I'm not sure if I made the right decision in the long run, but I guess you can never be certain of your life outcome. I didn't want to slave away another year studying to end up with nothing. A meaningless degree and no motivation or prospects to move forward with. I can always go back to education at a later date if I feel I'm missing that hole in my life, but for now, I'm extremely happy with my decision and definitely think it's the best way to move forward.
If you're thinking of going to university make sure you sit and think about it long and hard. It's a long and difficult commitment to make, and if you're not fully invested now, it's only going to be harder when you get there. Make sure you're making the right decision for you and follow your heart. You can always change your mind, and you can always change it back. Nothing is set in stone and you've just got to do what makes you happy. If you're not 100% certain now, prospone for a year or two. See what other adventures and opportunities cross your path.