I've never really had much time to sit and reflect about how university affected me and my future. Mainly because I pushed it to the back of my mind and I almost refused to acknowledge it. But when a Facebook memories thing showed me that 3 years ago I finally got my graduation certificate I thought it was time to put down my feelings.
Throughout the whole of college I loved photography, in 3 years there I did the GCSE, A-Level and BTEC. Everyone in the department knew me and everyone knew I bloody loved taking photos, especially of people. So it was no surprise when I applied to a local uni to study Photography and got in. I mean my whole life revolved around what I saw through a lens of a camera.
My first year of uni was exactly how I expected it to be, hard work. Not only did I meet Scott and find out about expecting Max, but I also did a work placement with a couple of awesome photographers and threw myself into topical portraiture series.
When I returned to uni after having Max I expected everything to be similar, just a bit different as there was no late night drinking and less time to dedicate to the studio. What I didn't realise was that I would feel singled out for being the one with the kid and be looked down on when I had moments of struggle. In a full swing of postnatal depression it wasn't easy but I made friends on the course and managed to keep my head down as best as I could.
Looking at the course with a new set of eyes I realised it wasn't all it was cracked up to be. The lecturers were heavily fashion focused and seemed to make preferential treatment whilst my documentary series about young mums was seen as useless and pointless. Failing a module led the course leader to pull me aside and question whether I was right for the course or not, whether with 6 weeks left of my degree I should quit. The main reason, I assume the course wasn't right for someone with a young child.
I hasten to add I didn't quit. I stopped going to lectures and focused on getting a pass, scraping through with what little self esteem I had left and proving them wrong. That I was worthy of a degree and having a child. One theory lecturer I knew helped me achieve that pass all summer, he didn't mind when I cried my eyes out with pride after finally finishing the work. He spurred me on to complete it and prove to everyone I was worthy of being there.
University was a horrible but amazing time for me. Without it me and Scott wouldn't be us and we wouldn't have Max. But with it I ended up in one of the darkest points of my education. That's not to say it's not a good course. Plenty of my friends left the course and went on to bigger and better things. Working on amazing shoots and creating masterpieces.
I can't say that it was all bad though. I left never wanting to pick up my camera again, convinced I was an awful photographer and no one would ever hire me. But I also left with an urge to write and without that I wouldn't be here now. As you can tell, I've picked up my camera again. I've started to indulge in the little things that I loved about taking photos. But I focus on capturing the good, the light areas and developing them into something magical.
A year or so after I left, the course leader came into my work. When asking what I was up to I explained about my blog and how working with brands that way was how my photography was developing. I can honestly say the shock on his face was worth all those hours slaving away. I didn't just prove to him but I proved to myself that I was worthy of taking photos.
Criticism is a hard thing to take at times, but when being criticised for being a young parent is the main trigger I know how to extinguish it now.
*Note I haven't included any names or places as I don't feel it is fair to tarnish a place on one person's opinion.