On Leaving University

Last week I got confirmation through of my final exam results, telling me that I had passed my degree with a 2:1 grade. This was an enormous achievement, but while you might think that I would be happy with this, I’m actually feeling very emotional.

I think most of my fellow graduates will be feeling emotional at this time, as they say goodbye to housemates, coursemates and friends. Change is always particularly difficult for someone with Asperger Syndrome to deal with, though, and this transition is huge: I’m basically ripping up every aspect of my life and having to reestablish myself somewhere else. For now I’m moving back to Dad’s house until I find a job in the space sector, but I’m not sure if this is the best course of action or if I’m only prolonging things. Fortunately the dropzone my skydiving friends use is less than an hour’s drive away from here so I can still potentially drive down there and visit, but there’s nothing like university that I know of that can bring such a large number of like-minded people together in one place, and now I must leave.

Making matters worse is my feeling that I have been unable to realise my full potential while at Southampton. while in my final two years (of a total of six) my social and recreational life has grown unimaginably, during the first four I felt that the pressure to keep up with my degree was so heavy that my ambitions were almost opposed.

I now feel that although I am now free to take on many of the things I always wanted to do, I am now 34 and I’m trying to do things I should have been doing ten years ago or more, and I fear that it’s already too late to start. I think that the support I have received, while helping me to cope with my degree, has almost forced me to give up on joining in with the range of clubs and societies that university had to offer and now I’m leaving it’s too late for me to start.

I’ve tried to write this post repeatedly over the past few days. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that while the university has supported me through my degree, there has been no similar support for my desire to participate in the recreational side of university life, and the support I’ve had has almost mitigated against it. They tell me that now is my chance to do everything I wanted, but now I’m leaving I can no longer access the clubs and societies at university; that chance has gone for good now.

I came back to Southampton last night to pack up the last of my things and finish cleaning the house before my housemates and I move out on Thursday but, in that time, I’ve already found some of my friends while out and about: last night I found a group of my coursemates while going to get a take away for dinner, while this afternoon I found one of my friends from the surfing club heading to the common and a former housemate herself packing to leave. It struck me that leaving my friends is responsible for a large part of what I’m feeling, and perhaps moving back to Somerset straight away wasn’t such a good idea after all.

What I’m trying to do here is reach out to my friends, contacts, anyone who can help to reassure me through this transition. Moving back to Somerset risks leaving me isolated from my friends and from life in general, and my Dad’s house is a very different environment that cannot provide the same kind of intellectual stimulation that university provides, nor the range of opportunities that exist here.