Weight is a sensitive subject. People always have something to say about your appearance, no matter your size.
'You could do with losing a few pounds.'
'You're too thin, eat a burger.'
'You're so fat, look at that muffin top.'
'You're too tall to be that skinny, you look ill.'
I've had my fair share of issues with my weight and how I feel about my size.
As a teenager, I didn't worry about what I ate. I ate relatively healthy but was happy to eat crisps, sweets, chocolate and takeaways whenever I fancied it. My weight wasn't a problem, I was a healthy weight and I was happy. That changed once I turned 18. I started to put weight on, particularly in my stomach and thighs, as is genetic for my family. It became a weight on my mind, so to speak - pun intended. The older I got, the more weight I put on and the more unhappy I became. As of right now, I am 21 years old, I am 5ft 2in and I weigh 10st 9.5lbs (or 69.8kg/149.5lbs.) Now that may not sound like a lot but for my height and age, that is classed as overweight. I hardly fit into my size 12 jeans anymore and I have horrible jagged purple stretch marks on the inside of both of my thighs. I feel disgusting and fat and I truly hate my body. I try to lose weight by exercising whenever I can and eating fruit and vegetables and trying to cut back on the chocolate and the sweets, but nothing seems to stick. I lose a few pounds, I feel great, and then a week later, those pounds are back on and I feel worse than ever.
I know that this whole article is going to seem very hypocritical. Who am I to talk about losing weight and feeling body positive when I’ve just spent a paragraph talking about how I struggle to lose weight and hate my body? I get it. However, these are some things that I tell myself when I’m down about not losing weight and when I’m at my lowest with my body confidence. These things are important things to remember when you’re losing weight, and they’re designed to give you a little boost of confidence when you’re feeling like all hope is lost. If they work for me, they might also work for someone else.
The main thing that I want you to take from this article is that losing weight can be difficult and it can be stressful. I completely understand that. But if you really want to lose weight, then you can do it if you put your mind to it. Work hard and stay positive. However, if you are happy with your body and your size, then don't change for anyone. What other people say does not matter if you are happy. Your opinion is the only one that truly matters.
As promised, below are links to five of Carrie’s amazing body positivity videos. Some of the things she raises in them are super important and so I highly recommend you give a few minutes to each of them because I think that you will genuinely feel better for it:
I'm writing this on 23rd July 2020 and lockdown is beginning to come to an end. We're allowed to leave our houses, Boris will soon be retracting his 'work from home' orders and pubs, tattoo salons and hairdressers are all open for business. Now seems like a pretty good time for us to look back on lockdown, the good and the bad times, but to also look forward to how we'll keep ourselves safe outside of lockdown.
At first, lockdown was really difficult for me. I didn't realise it until my manager pointed it out. I thought I was managing just fine, coping with working from home and staying inside, but I understand now that I was just managing - managing isn't the same as being fine. I was getting easily stressed and frustrated, I was unmotivated and forcing myself to do more work than I was mentally capable of which made me more frustrated and that bad mental state would last me for a few days. It ended up that I got less work done than if I'd just given myself a break and taken some time to get back in a good headspace. I think after recognising this, I started to be kinder to myself and that made lockdown easier for me. Since then, I've been okay. I've been coping and I really have been fine.
What I've missed most is people. I'm not usually a very extroverted person, I'm quite shy and introverted and enjoy my own company. I don't need to go out every weekend and be with people. But I miss people - I didn't think that I would, but I do. I miss going for a meal with my best friend when she's on holiday from university, I miss going to someone's house for a cuppa and a chat, I miss hugging family friends when you see them in the street. I'm a very touchy feely emotionally driven person so not being able to hug and kiss people or even just stand less than 2m away from them has been really hard - not being able to see them at all has been even harder. I haven't seen my best friend at all for nearly 8 months and I hate it.
Although I'm glad that the restrictions are easing so I will be able to start seeing people again and standing less that 2m away from them, I'm also scared. I'm that annoying person on Facebook who's like 'you mark my words, in October we'll be back in lockdown with a second wave.' I don't want to be that person but I truly believe that we will have a second wave. People weren't obeying the rules when we were in lockdown, they were still going to parks and beaches and gathering in large crowds. So now that they're actually allowed to do that, it's going to happen more because technically they aren't doing anything wrong. But just because you can do something, it doesn't mean you should.
Of course I hope that we don't have a second wave and we can start getting back to normal - or at least the new normal. So here are some things you can do to continue to stay safe and reduce the spread. They may just seem like the things the government has already told you to do, but it's important.
So be safe, friends. One day, everything will actually feel okay again and we'll be hugging our friends and look back on this and think 'remember that time when we weren't allowed to touch?'
We'll get there.
Sexuality is a sensitive subject. Some people dread coming out for fear of rejection, bullying or generally not being accepted by their peers. Most people are able to come out in their own time, at their own pace, when they are ready. But what about those people who aren't? What about the people who are forced to come out, via blackmail, or the people whose sexuality is revealed by somebody else?
Unfortunately, being ‘outed’ is a real thing, even now. The Urban Dictionary definition of being outed is ‘to reveal some previously secret part of someone's life, originally from someone coming "out of the closet" as gay.’ When you are outed, it is generally not by choice - the term being outed means that someone else who isn’t you has disclosed this information, usually without your permission. It is horrible and awkward and uncomfortable and you can feel completely unvalidated and betrayed.
I am lucky enough to have never been outed by someone. The people around me know that I will tell people my truth when I am ready and have not taken that decision to tell or not tell someone into their own hands. I guess you could say I have inadvertently outed myself though. Let me explain.
When I was 15, I was only just coming to terms with my bisexuality after having been in the closet, trying to ‘pray the gay away’ for the past 3/4 years. I was nowhere near ready to tell anyone yet, I hadn’t even properly admitted it to myself. So after a trip to Berlin with school, I came home and Mum asked how it was. I was so engrossed in telling her about my experience that I concluded my story with the sentence ‘the girls were gorgeous, and the boys weren’t much worse’ to which my mum said ‘is that your way of telling me you’re gay?’ I hadn’t meant to tell her that way, it just came out (no pun intended.) I felt horrified and ended up sobbing.
So although I don’t know how it feels to be outed by somebody else, I know how it feels to accidentally out yourself when you aren’t ready and I know things which come after that from the people around you. The questions. The negativity. The shame. I get it. Here are some tips to deal with all these things that come afterwards and be proud of who you are as well as dealing with the person who outed you.
Now go! Go live your truth! Scream it from the mountain tops - not literally, maybe just say it out in the street.
It’s okay to be who you are.
I love you and I am proud of you.
Sometimes it can be difficult to let go of things and people who have hurt you in the past. Humans need closure and some sense of finality in order to move on - it sounds like such a cliche but it's true. We're sensitive, emotional creatures and we can't move on whilst we're hurting and at a loose end.
A good way of getting that closure and that finality can be writing letters to the people that have hurt you. It is a healthy way of getting your feelings out and blurting out what's going on in your head without the other person having to ever read it. After writing it down, it's out in the atmosphere and not holding you back anymore.
I decided to give this a go and I decided to share my letters to the past with you guys.
Dear my ex best friend:
I never realised it until now but we weren't good for each other. We were both going through a lot and working through our own issues and it wasn't the time for us. We needed to communicate more. You really hurt me when you broke off our friendship and I felt so guilty and like it was all my fault - but it wasn't and it wasn't fair of you to put it all on me and make out like you're perfect. Neither of us told the other how we were feeling and what was going on in our lives and what the other person could do to help. We both made mistakes and you need to acknowledge that. I still love you and I will always care about you but I understand that we can't be friends - or at least how we were. Maybe the time will be right for us in 5, 10 years and maybe it won't. But if we never speak to each other again, I want you to know that I forgive you and I also forgive myself. I want you to be happy, but I have to be happy too and for that to happen - I have to let go.
Dear my ex boyfriend:
I fell for you, hard and fast, and fell in love with you just as quickly and you were the worst mistake I ever made. You were manipulative, abusive, cruel and I didn't deserve any of what happened to me. You were toxic but despite what you did, I can't blame you for everything. We were both young and we were still only kids. We were 15, you know. I didn't know how to love myself and so I couldn't truly love you as much as I thought I did and you didn't know how to love me as much as you may have wanted to. We tried to force a relationship that wasn't supposed to be - and that's how we ended up breaking and hurting each other. However, what you did to me was your fault and your choice and not mine or anything I did. I haven't forgiven you yet, and it's going to take a long time but I'm trying. I can't let go of what happened and deny it as easily as you can, but it will happen one day.
Dear my primary school bully:
I'm not going to act like what you did wasn't hurtful because it was - but I understand why you did it. You were having issues in your own life and things were happening that you had no control over. You needed to make someone feel small in order to make yourself feel better and I just happened to be the target. That's no excuse though. The things you used to say to me had a real impact on me, even now. 9/10/11 years later, it's still affecting me and you probably didn't mean for that to happen but you did that. I know it wasn't my fault or anything that I did, it was all you and the choices you made. My self esteem is beat, my anxiety is sky high and I don't even really know who I am. It's not all down to you but some of it definitely is. But I need you to know that I forgive you. It's not been easy, but I do. After all, what goes around comes around and karma can be a bitch.
Dear my sixth form headteacher:
You told me in my last few weeks of sixth form that I would never succeed because I was lazy and didn't put enough hard work in. You told me I would never go to university because I didn't have the intelligence and the motivation. You were right in a way - I didn't go to university, but not because I couldn't, just because I didn't want to. Now, I'm doing so much better than you could have ever imagined. I have a job, I'm getting paid to do what I love, and I am one of the hardest working people in that entire company. I have people who are proud of me, proud of what I've achieved and proud of my work. I may have needed your approval back then, but I don't anymore. What you think doesn't matter to me. So congratulations, you were right that I wouldn't go to university and I'd never succeed, at least not in the way you defined as successful - but I am successful in a different way and I love it.
Dear my driving instructor:
You were wrong. That is all I have to say to you. You were wrong about me and that is your loss. You have no idea how many times I cried after our lessons. But you were wrong. I did pass and now I am a bloody good driver. Sure, it may have taken more time than you were willing to spend but I did it, and all without your help. Thanks to you, I had the pleasure to spend two and a half years with one of the kindest, most thoughtful, most patient men I have ever met. He was incredible as a driving instructor and did more for me and was kinder to me in those two and a half years than you ever were in those first five lessons. He was who helped me to pass, not you. You had and still have nothing to do with my success. So I suppose I owe you a thank you for forcing me to quit because without you, I never would have met him. I'm not angry anymore. I will warn everyone I know from choosing you as a driving instructor but I'm not angry - I proved you wrong and of that, I am damn proud.
So those are my five letters to people in my past. They weren't easy to write and I went through so many emotions in the meantime, but all I feel now is relief. All the anger I felt, all the sadness - it's gone.
If you could speak to someone who hurt you in your past, what would you say to them? Write it down and then let it go.
Believe me, it will help.
The idea of safe sex is drummed into you all throughout school and also in your home life. Everyone gets the birds and the bees chat of when a man loves a woman and, despite it being awkward, it is totally necessary.
Going on contraception can be a daunting experience. You don't know what effect it will have on your body and whether it is 100% reliable. But you needn't be scared.
There are lots of different types of contraception but the most popular four are the pill, the IUD/coil, the implant and the injection.
The pill is taken orally usually once a day and there are different types depending on your needs. There is a progesterone only pill which is often called the mini pill and doesn't contain oestrogen. One which does contain oestrogen the combined pill which contains both. You can take the pills back to back in order to stop your period or you can use a 23 on and 7 off method where you stop taking the pill for 7 days and that is when you have a period.
I personally take the pill to stop my periods. Though I'm not sexually active yet, I take the pill back to back in order to prevent a period. I have a period about once every 4-6 months while on the pill and the periods aren't half as heavy or painful as they used to be. The pill messed with my emotions initially and made me erratic, switching from happy to crying in 2 seconds flat, but that settled down eventually and now I am perfectly happy.
The IUD is inserted into your womb and lasts for 5 to 10 years. The IUD releases copper into your body to alter the thickness of your cervical mucus, making it more difficult for sperm to survive. The IUD has to be inserted and removed by a trained health professional like a nurse or GP but should take no longer than 5 minutes. You will need to check that your IUD is in place every month or so - your health practitioner will tell you how to do this.
The implant is a small plastic rod put in your arm which lasts 3 years and works by releasing progesterone which stops the release of an egg, therefore preventing pregnancy. It also thickens the cervical mucus and thins the lining of the womb. It can be removed at any time by a doctor or nurse, even if it isn't ready for replacement yet.
The injection also releases progesterone into your blood and can last from 8 to 13 weeks. Depo Provera is the most common and that one lasts for 13 weeks, compared to Noristerat which lasts 8. It also thickens the cervical mucus, which makes it difficult for sperm and thins the lining of the womb so a fertilised egg is less likely to implant itself. You usually have the Depo-Provera and Noristerat injections in your bottom, but you can have them in your upper arm.
When choosing contraception, you need to choose the one which is right for you. Different options have different side effects so you need to consider what is going to be the safest for you.
My advice for choosing a contraceptive is:
#1 Talk to your friends - it is always good to hear other experiences so that you can weigh up your options and get unbiased opinions from real people. Your friends are also the people who you can trust to be honest with you. If you don't want to talk to your friends, there are plenty of articles on our website which talk about our experiences with contraception, like this one from Kaitlyn: https://teenagerswithexperience.weebly.com/kaitlyns-articles/my-experience-with-the-implant
#2 Do your research - Google means you can search each type of contraceptive and look into what it says on the NHS website (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception/) as well as reading scientific articles, lifestyle blogs or watching videos. That way, you have all the information to help make an informed decision.
#3 Talk to your GP - The best thing to do is talk to your GP. They know your medical history and they know lots about each type of contraception. They can advise what could work best and help you make your decision.
There is always the slim chance that your contraception will fail and also none of the above methods of contraception protect you against sexually transmitted diseases so I'd advise using a second method of contraception (i.e. a condom) just in case. If you're worried that your contraception has failed or you think you may be pregnant, please speak to your GP.
My overall tip for you is don't be scared of contraception. It is there to make sex safe and enjoyable for you and most of the time, it will do what it's supposed to.
I love horror movies - at least, now I do. It’s not always been that way. Up until 16, I had never watched a horror film and I had no desire to either; I mean, why would anybody want to scare themselves silly and have nightmares? Then at a sleepover with friends, they wanted to watch The Funhouse Massacre. So, I said ‘fine, but I’ll be hiding behind my phone.’ My eyes kept being drawn to the TV until I eventually gave up and watched. The film was pretty bad, but it opened my eyes. The following morning, we watched Ouija where my love flourished and has grown ever since.
I know a lot of you are probably in the same mindset as I was - why would anyone voluntarily be terrified? Well, there's actually scientific research which explains. I will link the articles below so you can read more but here are the most commonly given reasons.
It depends on the person as to why they like horror. For me, I guess it's a novelty and I find it entertaining. I am fascinated by psychopathic killers/villains, but I'm drawn more to crime shows for that reason, than horror films.
I prefer modern horror films to the older ones as with the SFX and CGI now, horror films can be so much more complex and scary. I mean look at the Pennywise from the original IT and IT 2017. The original Pennywise was only scary because of how bad it was, in my personal opinion.
So onto my top 7 Halloween 'horror' films. I say horror but use that term as loosely as you like as some of these may fall into the subgenres other than horror. I will put them in order of my favourites and rate them on a spoopiness, as I call it, scale of 1-5 (1 being a little bit spoopy, 5 being shit my pants.) Of course, I haven't seen every horror film ever so I'm sure in ten years, this list will have vastly changed.
👻👻👻👻 4 out of 5 spoops - I was terrified to go and see this film and rightly so!
👻👻 2 out of 5 spoops - a couple of good jumpscares but didn't find it massively scary but it is one of my favourite films!
👻👻 2 out of 5 spoops - it was fascinating and enjoyable to watch, a little predictable but I love it all the same.
👻 1 out of 5 spoops - not even slightly scary, more hilarious but that's why it's so good.
👻👻👻 3 out of 5 spoops - there were a couple of scary moments where I jumped watching it and I got very freaked and scared.
👻👻👻👻👻 5 out of 5 spoops - totally 100% terrifying, that’s all I have to say, I was glued to the screen.
👻👻👻 3 out of 5 spoops - it wasn’t as scary as I anticipated it to be because everyone who I knew had seen it said it was the most terrifying thing they’d ever watched but there were a few really good scary bits.
What are your favourite horror films/scary films to watch? Have you seen any of the ones on my list? Are you inspired to watch any of them after reading this article? If you do watch them, please comment on this article and let me know what you thought!
Links to the articles:
Why Do We Like Horror Movies - Tufts: https://now.tufts.edu/articles/why-do-we-horror-movies
Why Some People Love Horror Movies While Others Hate Them - Psych Central: https://psychcentral.com/blog/why-some-people-love-horror-movies-while-others-hate-them/
Why Do We Like Watching Horror Movies and Being Scared: https://brobible.com/culture/article/why-do-people-like-watching-horror-movies-being-scared/
Everyone has an idol, someone they admire and look up to. Sometimes this is a famous person or someone you know, like a family member or a friend. No matter who your idol is, this is a person who means a lot to you and is very important in your life. So, when you get the opportunity to see or meet your idol, it’s a big deal, especially if they’re famous. It feels like a once in a lifetime opportunity for your dreams to come true. But is it actually good to meet your idol and face the reality? Or is it better to keep them in your head and admire from afar?
I have been extremely lucky to meet some of my idols.
One of my idols is Carrie Hope Fletcher. She is an actress, singer, author and vlogger Internet personality. I have been watching her videos since 2014 and idolised her for her dedication, kindness, inspiring personality. In 2016, I met her for the first time. I was so nervous because my mum had previously said to me ‘don’t get your hopes up, she might not be how you imagined.’ But I was lucky. She was even better than I imagined - just as kind, inspiring and lovely. I have since met her twice more in 2017 and 2018 and each experience has been better than the last!
As well as Carrie, I’ve also met Dodie in 2017 and most recently Bianca Del Rio, plus having seen Dan and Phil live.
They are all my idols, for many different reasons. But, not all idols are the same and there are many more who I haven’t met yet but would love to. All my experiences so far have been incredibly positive and I would do it all over again - but not everyone is as lucky as I am.
Sometimes, meeting someone you admire doesn’t quite go to plan - sometimes, they aren’t how you imagined they’d be or they seem rude or arrogant.
Here are some stories from members of the team who have met their idols or had interactions online with them, just like I have, but unfortunately it wasn’t quite as positive.
'So about two years ago I got to meet [name omitted], Got to the interview part and had no problems with that, but then at the signing and meet and greet, she was just plain rude to everyone but particularly the younger fans like myself, I told her how much I admire her and she just kind of muttered a half-hearted thank you, we took a photo together but the smile looked so fake, you could just tell she genuinely didn’t want to be there and didn’t care about the people that look up to her.'
'I looked up to him for years as he was just travelling the world & exploring abandoned places. but when he came over to the UK and he wanted some places to explore so he messaged me. I told him about this place called Denbigh Mental Asylum but there was an old man with a shotgun who was the security for that place as it was dangerous to go in.
I warned him about this man and how dangerous he actually was but he filmed his experience inside the asylum anyway and the old man spotted him and chased him.
That's when I got a message from [name omitted] saying that he was nearly hurt and I said well I did warn you but then he blocked me and blamed me for his mistake.'
It can be really upsetting when this happens. It can also be hard to understand: why is this person who seems so great in your head not quite so great in real life? I get it, really. I know I would have thought the exact same thing if I had been in your shoes. But, there are a few things to remember which might help you to understand why maybe you had a bad experience from their perspective.
So, next time you meet someone you admire, maybe take a second to think about how their day may have been. If they’re rude to you, don’t take it personally. There can be many reasons behind their rudeness and many of these instances are unintentional.
But, if other people have had similar experiences and this person is rude to everyone, maybe there isn’t a reason and maybe they are just a horrible person - in which case, they don’t deserve to be an idol.
If you’re like me and you were born in the 2000s or even if you are slightly older or slightly younger than me, there is a pretty big chance that you have read the Harry Potter books at some point in your life. A lot of people who I know in their teens or twenties are obsessed with these books and films about a wizard boy named Harry Potter who attends a magical school called Hogwarts and fights evil death eaters led by his arch-nemesis with no nose. One thing that comes with loving this series is the desire to know which Hogwarts house you would be assigned by the infamous Sorting Hat.
If you don’t know the Harry Potter books or films, every student at Hogwarts attends a Sorting Ceremony where a talking sentient hat is placed on their head and they are sorted into one of four houses based on their traits and thoughts. The four houses are Gryffindor which is red, Ravenclaw which is blue, Hufflepuff which is yellow and Slytherin which is green. Fans of the Harry Potter series can use the official Pottermore website, created by J.K. Rowling, to be ‘sorted’ through a quiz rather than an anthropomorphic hat.
I have swapped houses a few times over the years. I have taken the Pottermore quiz five times throughout my life and twice I have been a Gryffindor and then three times I have been a Hufflepuff. Personally, I believe I am more of a Hufflepuff and my friends say the same so Hufflepuff is how I identify. Hufflepuffs are dedicated, diligent, fair, patient, kind, modest, loyal and tolerant - and I would like to think that I possess those traits.
Each house has traits which are desirable and others which are not. For example, Gryffindors are brave, determined and chivalrous but they can also be short tempered, self righteous and involved in pointless heroics. Ravenclaws are intelligent, accepting and creative but also can be overly competitive therefore suffering scorn and bullying. Slytherin is thought to be the evil house but really, they are resourceful, ambitious and leaders, if a little self preserving and thought to be incapable of love.
What I am trying to say is that each house has good points and bad points. I feel that while it is important to embrace your house and all its eccentricities, it is also important to not be so stubborn that you won't accept other traits from other houses too.
I feel that this sentiment can be transferred to life in general. No matter what people’s faults are, it is important to embrace them and see their good points, their eccentricities and their general brilliance. They are only human and deserve to be happy and safe, just as you do. I also think it is important to embrace your own faults and weird habits because they are what makes you, you.
If you do these things, and you accept others and are tolerant of their faults, will stand up for those who are being bullied for their eccentricities and lead your peers in how to be nice to others then guess what? You have taken the best trait from each of the houses and you are an amazing person and I thank you.
If you want to find your Harry Potter house, then here is the link to Pottermore, or The Wizarding World as it is now called: www.wizardingworld.com
Periods suck. That’s just a fact - ask any period-having person and they will confirm that for you. Periods just suck, at the best of times. So when you combine the time of the month with feeling like your uterus is being ripped out of your body and someone is stabbing it with a million knives, you can imagine how much it sucks then.
Period pain, or menstrual cramps, are caused by contractions in the uterus. If it contracts too strongly, it can press against nearby blood vessels which briefly cuts off the supply of oxygen. It’s this lack of oxygen causes your pain and cramping. Sometimes these cramps can be mild and sometimes they can be severe. They are temperamental and unpredictable too. You can go for months having no cramps at all and then your next period hurts like hell.
I had really bad period pain every single period. I would spend hours curled up on the floor, sobbing and throwing up. My periods were also really heavy, so not only was I in a horrendous amount of pain but I was anaemic and had episodes of fainting from losing a lot of blood. Periods were not at all fun for me.
The pain was that bad that I had to go to the GP to get something stronger. They gave me a tablet which dissolved in water, like an Alka-Seltzer, and then you drank the water. It worked but it tasted vile and when the tablet wore off, the pain was 10x worse than it was before.
I then tried Feminax, which is a tablet made specifically for periods. It was really good while it lasted but then my dad couldn’t find it in the shops, and the store brand version didn’t work as well so I was back to square one.
Eventually, I had no choice but to go back to the GP and ask to go on the contraceptive pill. The pill works by preventing ovulation and thinning your uterus lining which is what comes out of your body in a period so by being thinner, you have less to get rid of and your body doesn’t need to have a period. The pill means I only have a period once every 4 months or so and any pain I get is very minor. It’s heaven compared to the hell I used to go through.
Not everyone gets period pain as I did. Some period pains can be solved by some paracetamol and a hot water bottle. But I know not everyone wants to put a pill in their body. Not everyone believes in medication, and medication doesn’t always work - I know that better than most. The following are some potential alternatives which could help your cramps. They are not guaranteed solutions, and different things work for different people but some of these may work for you.
There may be other underlying causes behind your period pain if they are exceptionally bad or if there are other symptoms. Things such as endometriosis, fibroids, ovarian cysts, pelvic inflammatory disease and adenomyosis can cause unbearable pain, as well as other symptoms.
If your pain is too bad to cope with or your normal pattern of periods changes, then go and see your GP. They may do a pelvic examination or refer you to a gynaecologist in order to rule out any serious underlying medical problems.
So there are 5 tips which can help you to get rid of those pesky cramps and make your period a little easier to bear, and also some recommendations of when to see your doctor. Of course, there are many more solutions and helpful information you can find online from places such as the NHS, WebMD and Planned Parenthood.
According to Universities UK, a record of 1.77 million students went to university to achieve an undergraduate degree in 2017-18. I’m going to put this out there right now - I was not one of those 1.77 million people to go to university. All my friends went to their respective universities and I didn’t. Why not, you ask. Didn’t I get an offer? Was I having financial issues? Did something traumatic happen that meant I couldn’t go? The answer to those questions is no, no and no. I did get a place, an unconditional offer in fact, at York St. John. Yes, the university is expensive but I had savings and student loans. Finally, my home life was pretty great. I had my parents’ full support to go off to uni and fulfil my dreams. So why didn’t I go? Simple - I didn’t want to.
I thought I wanted to for a very long time. My whole life actually, I was sure I wanted to go to university to study and get a degree and then get a job. It was only when it came to applying that I thought ‘hang on, do I want to do this?’ and it quickly became apparent that no I did not. I still applied and got offers to four different universities but I truly was not sure that this was what I wanted at all anymore. I didn’t decide not to go until the end of January 2018 and at that point, I had no idea what to do instead. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I just knew what I didn’t want to do. So I deferred it for a year and off I went to figure out what on earth to do next.
So life was all hunky-dory after that. I found an apprenticeship and am as happy as Larry doing what I’m doing now. I’ve officially cancelled my application so I am not going to university this year or next year, or maybe ever. But how do you decide that you don’t want to go to university? What do you need to think about? Well, here are a few things to consider.
Do I actually want this - am I sure?
I know it’s a big question, and I know that it pretty much sums up the entire article. But it’s a serious question, and when you break it down, you always know the answer in your heart, even if you don’t realise it at the time. I went to an open day for York St. John and I got the best piece of advice I’ve ever received when it comes to making decisions and going to university especially. That advice was ‘if you aren’t sure, don’t.’ I wasn’t sure, so I didn’t. So all I’m asking you is are you sure? Because if you aren’t sure, should you?
What do you want to do?
When going to university, I think it's important to think about what you want to do with your degree. Do you want to be a photographer, or a teacher, or a lawyer? Do you need this degree, will it help you? For example, one of my reasons for not going to university was because the syllabus didn't appeal to me in terms of actually training me to be a freelance photographer, but felt more like it was training me to be a curator of photography. So think about your future, what you'd like to do, and consider whether your degree would be helpful and necessary for your dream.
Have you considered other options?
Some people think that university is the only way to get into their chosen career. If you want to be a lawyer, you need a law degree, if you want to be a teacher, then you need an education degree. But you don't always. There are often lots of different ways to get into your chosen career, even if you want to be a lawyer or a teacher. There are things such as apprenticeships or internships to get you into your area or you can start in a low-level job in a company you'd be interested in working for and work your way up the corporate ladder. So have you considered how else you could get to where you want to be?
Of course, there are a plethora of things to think about but those three are things that I thought about that helped me to make my final decision.
But don't forget to talk to people. Lecturers, current students, your friends and family - let them know what you're thinking and let them help you.
Whatever you decide, make sure the decision is yours and no one else's. You have to do what is right for you.