'Falling Behind' || Why It's Okay To Live On Your Own Timescale
Right now, I am in that shit position where all the people I was friends with at college are currently graduating and looking for graduate jobs. Unfortunately for me, I went through the same exact thing last year when all the people I went to secondary school with graduated (I did an extra year at college and so had already fallen behind them). And I do wish that I could just be happy for my friends - because I am OVER THE MOON that they've all done so well - but I would be lying if I said it wasn't hard.
Especially now with the delicious social medias we all have and are constantly scrolling. Each 'congratulations on your graduation! You've worked so hard to get here' post makes me stop and catch my breath, because you don't get a 'congratulations on staying alive! You've worked so hard to stay here' post. I have 'fallen behind' my peers because of my mental health, and sometimes that's really hard to accept, and even harder to talk about. The past five years have been so difficult, filled with hospitals and suicide attempts and self harm and therapists and bad days and good days - but none of that shows on social media.
As far as my Facebook is concerned, I went to college, dropped out, went back to college, went to uni, dropped out, started working. There's no congratulatory posts, there's no acknowledgement of the hard work I put in just to stay reasonably sane and stable. You don't get to graduate out of a psychiatric ward, or when you finish therapy, or when you come off of your antidepressants. And it's really fucking hard not to say anything out of anger and frustration when this is a joyous time of celebrating everyone's hard won achievements over the past three years.
For me, I find it even harder because the summer is traditionally when my mental health falls down the proverbial toilet. I don't know why, I know it's not SAD, but I do think it's because summer is a time of get up and go and do all the things! And I cannot handle doing all the things.
'Falling behind' is not a bad thing. 'Falling behind' is a social construct, at the end of the day. If the traditional school-college-uni-work system isn't for you, then it isn't for you and that's not the end of the world. There is so much more to life, and there is so much out there, that there is a path for you. And it will be unique to you, because we're all human beings with different needs and thoughts and feelings and wants and abilities.
I have a friend who shacked off uni and is now working her way up the hospitality ranks. I have another friend who shacked off uni and has spent the last few years dipping her hand in various different jobs and trying out new projects. I have other friends who have just finished their Masters. Life doesn't have a timescale in which you need to get things done. Life doesn't have a linear path you have to follow.
Life truly is what you make it, and when I look back at everything I've achieved over the last five or so years, I am so proud! For starters, I'm still alive. For seconds, I've managed to hold down a job whilst battling with my mental health.
Just this year I've started studying for a degree with the Open University so I can get the degree I've always wanted - because I like studying,not because I feel like I have to have a degree. Life is out there. There is a path for you out there, and it really is just a matter of trying different things, even if you 'fail' some of them. Although really, if each experience teaches you something new, you've not failed at it.
As long as what you do what makes you happy, and you do what you need to do at the time you do it, you can't put a foot wrong. And you won't have fallen behind, either.