University and the Mature Student

September marked the start of my second foray into higher education as a mature student with the commencement of an MA in Creative Writing.

My undergraduate degree was enough of a challenge; I worked full time and studied full time and for two of the three years I also held down a long distance relationship with my now-husband who had flitted off to London.

It was worth every tantrum, every tear and every missed meal/night out/wink of sleep. I remember stepping on to that stage at Lincoln Cathedral (which by the way has to be one of the most incredible places to graduate, ever!) filled to the brim with pride whilst swearing internally that I would never, ever put myself through that again.

And so, here I am again, a mere 8 years later, starting my postgraduate career, apparently taking no heed of my younger self. This time my husband lives, not only in the same county, but the same house (helpful), and I also don’t have a job to work around. But, I do have two young children, aged five and one. One of whom understands the concept of ‘Quiet, Mummy is working’ but chooses not to adhere, whilst the other just wants to bang on the laptop keys, throw books down the stairs and generally create an aura of chaos wherever she may be.

University and the Mature Student

The next year is definitely going to see its fair share of challenges. Not only from a time management/juggling point of view, but also from the perspective of personal confidence. Although I’m now thirty-four and I am so much more confident in myself in some ways than I was ten years ago as an undergrad, I’ve experienced some bitter life experience in the interim. I’ve also become a Mum which has been the most terrifying, depressing and miraculous years of my life, but which have also made me lose myself, probably more than I’d like to admit.

After my first workshop, I’ll be honest, I was questioning myself. I froze like the proverbial rabbit during the first task. We were given one minute to create something out of  the sentence ‘the dog crossed the road’. I spent 55 seconds of my time panicking that I was useless, telling myself I couldn’t do it and that I was making the biggest mistake of my life, I even looked at the exit and wondered if I should run. The final 5 seconds were spent realising that I’d done absolutely nothing and was going to look like a fool. I felt hot, sweaty and utterly flustered. I have never felt so stupid. I felt that I was masquerading as someone I was not. I felt a complete and utter talentless fraud.

Happily, that was a low point. I managed to have a strong, expletive filled word with myself and I pushed through the fear and the self doubt and I bloody well did it! By the end of the day I felt empowered. My brain had sparked to life and my imagination was bubbling over. It was one heck of a rollercoaster of a day! If just one day can make me feel so creatively alive, then I am so excited to see what I can achieve over the coming year.

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