Where there's a Willesden there's a way

Saturday, October 11, 2003

No U-turns

"lay down all your guns
Give them up and then move on.
It doesn't mean that you are dead
passing by the grace of God."

It's amazing how the past can still ruin your day. Which is what I felt this week when I got a letter from Imperial College, my old alma mater/unflushable. I arrived at Imperial five years ago this week, full of optimism, hope and just a pinch of arrogance. I left under something of a cloud, having failed what was clearly the wrong course for me. If I'd had any sense I would have left when I realised that, but was concerned about disappointing others, so stupidly I stuck with it. And failed, by one exam.

It's now coming up to the deadline to register for that exam if I want to take it one last time. My view is that it's ok to make a mistake once, but to keep on flogging away at it when I clearly don't stand a chance is just daft. And I've been told how important it is to complete this, and how silly it would be to just stop when I've worked so hard to get this far.

Except the thing I thought I wanted was really just a shadow. As it turns out, I didn't want a high class degree from my education; I just wanted an education. And most of all, I wanted something worth getting out of bed for. So in a way failing my degree was the best thing that's ever happened to me, because it made me realise that, and I feel that despite the scars of failure and the (huge) debt I accrued, it was all worth it if it brought me to a place like this. And what I do know is that if I'm ever to be successful, it will be based more on what I've learnt and done since leaving Imperial than on having that piece of paper.

Of course, everyone else who graduated earns about double what I do. But they buy me drinks sometimes.


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