For the past several months the 19th July has been at the front of my mind… Graduation.
It seemed so far away for quite some time. After January exams…or a lot of coursework for me, I was averaging 70.2. After last years 69.5% (0.5% off a first class) I thought, wow if I keep this going I’ve done it, a First Class Honors. Beyond my wildest dreams!
Anxious and nervous going into semester two, I knew I had to work hard. Easier said than done, whilst juggling the demands of football (getting to a BUCS Final), my internship at British Basketball, editorial duties on two magazines, Kids Olympics Project leader, HeadsUp communication officer role, Media Lead for the BUCS Midlands Conference Cup clocking up over 50 hours outside of my course planning media and marketing strategy for the event, and of course running the event itself. There’s probably a billion other things I ended up doing when I should’ve spent more time on the workload I already had.
I know I made my final year hard, balancing all those commitments but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I met so many inspirational, talented and amazing students, that if I didn’t decide to get involved with all of the above, I would never have met. These people gave me so much confidence in myself, providing me with opportunities I have enjoyed, but opportunities that have developed me into a leader, a graduate with a voice, who can work under pressure, slightly more organised and definitely more determined to succeed.
Although, final year didn’t come without its struggles. The pressure of the course, alongside the extra-curricular and trying to find a social life… ( the latter rarely happened), took its toll during the final few weeks of writing my dissertation. Finding myself in a cycle of stress, writing, more stress, more writing. Earlier mornings and later nights, the dreaded dissertation was a process I can only enjoy on reflection. Days before the deadline with my dissertation shaping quite nicely, I found my data could potentially be academic misconduct ( long story), to this day I still do not know whether it would’ve been or not. Regardless, at the time I couldn’t take the risk. Four days before the deadline I had to re-transcribe episodes of the Olympics but BBC coverage, not NBC coverage (An American TV Channel). That took practically a day just to get the data. At this point, I had to change the whole of my introduction, data analysis, discussion, and conclusion. That’s a whole chunk of my dissertation that had to be redone. Four days. The time was ticking down, the panic increasing. I can’t possibly express the stress and pressure I faced. The BBC data analysis provided me with a whole new argument, a weaker one, positive for the BBC, but disadvantaging my dissertation. My dissertation focused on the subtle (often not very) sexism presented in gymnastics at the Olympic Games. Somehow, just don’t ask how. I managed to turn around my dissertation in four days, I completed it. I had no time to edit it, I completed it with a couple hours to spare and at this point, I was exhausted. 4000 words were written in the final 12 hours. No sleep, just writing. I couldn’t look over it having not slept, and… the embarrassment I felt. I was so embarrassed by my work, still to this day after submission I have not read it, nor did I print it off and do the traditional photo with your dissertation at as many infamous Loughborough locations.
Emotionally drained, I thought that was it, I’ve ruined my degree. It was probably the lowest point of my university experience. I honestly thought that was it. I was working out how high I’d need to get in my modules to save myself. For some reason, I was obsessing that I would get 48 in my dissertation. Frustrated knowing how close I was and how hard I worked in semester one to average a 70.2, my new goal was to achieve a 2.1. This I thought was going to be the hardest challenge to date. I put so much effort into my final pieces of work, battling my brain telling me there’s no point I’ll be lucky to make a 2.2. I was shocked to see my results.
It was about 12:30 in India, maybe slightly earlier. We were just in a souvenir shop when I logged into the free airport wifi and received an email titled ‘your results’…I panicked. I was shaking. After the nightmares of failing my degree, the truth would load in a click of a button. Or, several attempts later. It finally loaded. I looked straight to my dissertation mark. There was no 4 involved, it was a solid 2.1. My dissertation was ok, it was more than ok… I was elated. I was so happy I forgot to check my degree classification overall. At first, I couldn’t find it, a tilt of the phone later, landscape. There it was a First Class Honors.
Despite, my cycle of stress and my brain telling me I wasn’t good enough, I should pack it all in. I didn’t, I stuck with it and got a First Class Honors. Over the moon doesn’t describe it. For the village girl from Somerset, who always lived by the cringiest motto I’ve had since childhood ” never gonna give up, gonna aim high and reach the sky”. The girl who didn’t come from a background of wealth, nor privately educated, labeled into categories, like we all do, I’ve surpassed expectations… my own expectations. I’ve achieved something that became possible, even when I thought I’d lost sight of it.
To me completing a degree is one of the most incredible achievements. Regardless of the mark. My message here is despite what you think, you never know how well you’ve actually done, and there is no point stressing over it. I honestly could’ve given up, and as much as I wanted to, thinking I had failed my degree just because my dissertation didn’t go to plan, I didn’t. I worked hard in my other modules. I did the best I could be and I tried to ignore the voice inside my head as much as I possibly could. That voice was stupid, my dissertation was fine, a mark to be proud of.
Even though I still can’t find the courage to read it, I have learnt my lesson. To believe in myself, my ability and to not stress over marks, or matters outside of my control, full stop! Life’s too short to be stressed!
I’ll now be starting my MA in Global Media and Cultural Industries at Loughborough University in October, so let’s hope I continue the success of the past three years, and have a bit more self-confidence going into my MA!