I hope that this provides some insight into why I wear the “Dropout” label as a badge of honour as well as give you all some insight into why I am the way that I am.
Before I speak about the end, I’ll speak about the beginning of this particular part of my life. My last year of sixth form was tough. My hopes after sixth form were to go to St. Mary’s University in Twickenham, however if I look back to that time now, it was a blessing that I would have a lack of choices and find myself packing to move south for the next adventure in my life.
I ended up with mediocre A Level results and one choice for university, Southampton Solent University, studying Fitness Management & Personal Training. Now let’s quickly sum up my time in Southampton:
- Fresher year was spent either drinking, playing PlayStation or more drinking (2012).
- 2nd year I hurt my back playing American Football (Turned out to be Lumbar Scoliosis and an infection I would end up have 2 surgeries on).
- After being cleared prematurely from my 1st surgery, I would need a 2nd surgery on my back. The most emotionally, psychologically and physically challenging thing I’ve overcome.
- I would go back the following year (2015) which is where I would start to consider the idea of dropping out.
Once I went back to university in 2015, I would have the realisation that I didn’t want to do my degree anymore. I hadn’t worked hard enough & taken for granted my time at university. I had about 4 assessments left to complete (including finishing up a 10,000-word dissertation) and there was no motivation to finish up a degree. Accepting that I was dropping out of university and leaving that part of my life unfinished was harder than most people would expect, and the fallout from that decision was harder than I would expect.
When I first dropped out, I felt a lot of shame. I had two older cousins who had gone to university and had done very well, so to come back as the uni dropout led to judgement from family and friends, which I really struggled with. At the time, it felt like I had gone backwards in my life over the past 4 years. I remember a friend of our family after a few drinks saying, “Your mum was really disappointed when she found out that you weren’t finishing your degree.” Listening to everyone around me at that time made me feel worse and worse. There’s this idea that dropping out of university is this easy, thoughtless decision. That really bothered me (and it still does).
It didn’t sit well with me that people saw me as failure for making that decision. It was the first time I truly understood what it was to have “a chip on your shoulder.” They were going to learn that a piece of paper wasn’t going to define me. From my perspective, it was me against the world; it felt like everyone around me had a route picked out for my life, forgetting that I was the one behind the wheel.
I knew that the next chance I got to change the direction of my life, I was grabbing it with two hands, and it just so happened that 6 months later (almost 4 years ago), a chance came in the form of an application for the role of Customer Service Advisor at The Body Coach. I haven’t let go since.
You’d think that was enough, and I certainly hoped it was; however, I still feel like I’m always being expected to prove something to the closest people to me. It’s simply taught me that what I can achieve and what I’m worth is something only I know the true value of. It’s okay to use people’s lack of faith in you as motivation, it’s when you internalise it to your own detriment that it then becomes poisonous.
Being a university dropout doesn’t define me as a person, but it did help me build a part of the foundation for my life around hard work, no excuses & a healthy insight into what a lack of faith in your ability to overcome adversity can do for your pride. I’m proud of the fact that when I felt like I was the only one who believed in me, I got after it and began to regain control of my destiny.
My time in Southampton gave me some amazing friends, the opportunity to find who I wanted to be as a man and opened my mind to a world bigger than Kingston. I don’t regret my decision to go there for my studies, it simply took me a few years to realise that it was just another chapter in a story that I’m fortunate enough to continue experiencing.
There are very few decisions that can define your life direction long-term and even then, you’ve got the opportunity to choose how you feel and how you act as a result of it. It’s just that simple.
One love, Luca : ) x