“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
Yesterday I was drafting my response to the day’s Writing 101 task and was struck by something that knocked me back. I am about to go into my final year of university and I’m starting to experience a lot of apprehension over what happens next. I wrote the following:
I was just drafting my response to today’s Writing 101 post when I realised that I’ve got something more important that I want to reach out about.
This will be my last year at Southampton university, unless I go on to postgraduate study or something similar. Soon I must start making decisions about what I’m going to do next, decisions that could potentially affect the next thirty years of my life, and I’m getting increasingly anxious.
I’ve had a challenging time at Southampton, and though I’ve managed to overcome these challenges I feel that I’ve had to give up far more than I had wanted. One of the biggest regrets of Southampton graduates is that they didn’t take full advantage of the range of extra-curricular activities they had when they were here. In my case I have certainly tried, but I’ve had several challenges to deal with—some of which was under the university’s control and led to an appeal being upheld—that have prevented me from doing so to the extent that I’ve wanted, some of which I think were preventable.
While part of me will be glad to leave and put these problems behind me, I don’t want to let go of the range of opportunities that I’ve been exposed to. I’ve had my successes of course, but if I’m struggling in this environment how can I hope to succeed in any other?
I’ve come to realise that while there are some parts of university that I’m ready to see the back of, there are other parts I’m not ready to let go of. What I’m experiencing is not unique to me, but thanks to my condition I’m experiencing it much more strongly than others.
People with Asperger syndrome have a strong need for structure and consistency in their lives. Change, even one that is planned for ahead of time, can bring uncertainty about the future and this can make us anxious. While I still have one year of university left, I have to figure out what I’m going to do afterward and whether I’m going to have to move away from Southampton to do it. What I’m most apprehensive about, though, is losing the social and recreational life I’ve built up over the past year and having to start over again.
I think what I need is some confidence about the future. I want to know that I can continue the with the successes I’ve achieved so far and continue onwards. The problem is I’ve come to depend heavily on the social structures around university (sports clubs for example) and during the summer, when those clubs aren’t active, I feel lost. I look on graduation in the same way, but there’s no return to university afterwards to bring it to an end; I’m going to have to learn to navigate my way without it.
Putting this into writing has helped me to put things into focus and I’m feeling more secure about things now. I’m already starting to think about what I can do after university; apart from finding a job, I’m already starting to think of a few ideas. I’m not sure I want to put this up, but I’m going to do so anyway as I’m sure something positive will come of it, and it would be misleading to only talk about the good stuff without acknowledging things like this.