Confessions of a law student: why I’ve decided to defer my law degree.

It’s 7:20pm and the doors to the Great Hall still aren’t open. All I want to is to get in and get out.

It’s been a long two weeks. One exam just looming over me. There’s only so many times you can re-read the ethical challenges defence counsel face.

I get into the exam. I start. It’s harder than I expect. Maybe that’s because the information I’ve been consuming over the past fortnight just hasn’t stuck. Maybe it’s because over the whole semester I was just going through the motions. Attending classes to get my name marked off the role but sitting with my peers wondering why I’m there.

There’s 20 minutes to go and I’m almost there. I start on the last short answer question. I have a grin on my face. In 20 minutes I’ll be free and this subject will be behind me.

They call for pens down. It’s 9:31pm. Relief flows through me. It’s over.

They collect the papers. I spend a few moments chatting to my peers about the exam.

Could you believe those multiple choice questions? What did you pick for short answer?

I’m out of there by 9:40pm. I’m in a taxi on the way home. I text my boyfriend to let him know I’m on my way. I look out the window as we cross the harbour bridge. I wish I could say I felt excited and elated. Or even proud. But I feel absolutely nothing. There are moments of relief that rise and fall on the taxi ride home. That relief doesn’t come from finishing an exam. It comes from not having to step inside that university for another five months.

I don’t know if uni is supposed to be fun or enjoyable. All I know is that it wasn’t fun or enjoyable for me. Not once this entire year.

I’ve spoken about my relationship with uni extensively. It’s not somewhere I like being.  I wanted to get through first year. Not make any rash decisions. Stick it out and then reevaluate when I reach the end.

Mid semester break 2016.

Now I have time to reflect and evaluate. I have time to consider what I learned at uni this year and what I want to achieve in 2017.

I’ve realised that the idea of being a full time student for five years just isn’t for me. That being a lawyer and engaging in that lifestyle doesn’t appeal to me whatsoever.

I’ve realised that I decided to do a double degree because ‘greatness’ and ‘success’ was expected of me, not just from others but from myself aswell. I am my own worst critic. I always have been and I always will be.

I’ve realised that I pushed through my dislike for law school because I rationalised it as an investment in my future. 5 years is nothing, right? Just a blip in your life if we’re looking long term. But is it worth allocating five years to something that makes me miserable because it might help me in the future? Nope. Is it worth getting on the M30 to the city every morning with dread in my heart because doing these subjects looks good on a resume? Nope.

I spent most of 2015 trying to heal. To put my health and happiness first for the first time. I made a committment to myself. That I would ask for help. That I would commit to being the best possible version of myself I could be.

This year, since starting uni, I’ve failed to uphold that commitment. I rationalised my unhappiness by fantasising about my future and what could happen if I toughed it out. I ignored the flutters of anxiety as I walked into class because it would be worth it in the end, right?  When I get that piece of paper? That assurance of job security?

I forgot to put my happiness and my health first because I was so busy doing other things. And now it’s time to do what I’ve wanted to do all year. Defer that goddamn law degree.

I’ve realised that I didn’t enjoy being at uni once this year. Not once. I’ve loved meeting so  many new people and I value these new friendships. But something needs to change.

Full time uni isn’t for me. Not right now at least. So I’ve deferred the law in case I want to come back to it one day. Maybe I’ll end up being that mature aged student who asks all the annoying questions in lectures. But for now, uni is taking a back seat and is way down the list of my priorities.

There is something I’m prioritising. But that’s a discussion for another time.

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