As I scraped the grades necessary, my excitement to apply for university, or college to many, filled my veins and my soul twitched. Finally, I was about to experience the thrilling milestone that I had so anxiously prepared for since childhood. It seemed to good to be true—and it almost was.
The illness that had been slowly creeping up on me over the years had finally caught me. I knew that my condition was only worsening, and not only would my grades decline because brain-fog was becoming a regular occurrence, but my years of working in a corporate job were limited. “One day”, I thought, “I’ll have to retire early due to my health.” Did I even have time to go to university, before finding a full-time job in the career that I was aiming for, or would I have to give up my dreams and work a “regular” job; so that I would at least have the chance to save for my future, before ending up on disability allowance—with a limited income?
I chose the regular job, and pushed my dreams aside. Balancing hospital appointments whilst working tired me out more than enough, so I felt that I had made the right decision—even if it meant watching my peers enjoy the university experience without me. Maybe my dream wasn’t meant to come true, I thought, and I would be able to fill the seemingly empty space on my list of achievements with something other than a degree.
Then, something changed inside of me. I remembered who I was, and how passionate I was about chasing my dreams. Accepting defeat was not me, and I had to shake it off. I knew that I wouldn’t be given the ability to dream, if it was impossible to make my dreams come true. Yet, I also knew that my reasons for not going to university, the conventional way, were valid. How could I still get my degree, whilst working the full-time job that I had secured; and would eventually have to leave due to my health? That’s when I found the Open University.
I found The Open University on a search engine, and the way that I found it reassures me that my sixth sense wasn’t wrong. There must be a secret agent reading my mind at all times, because just as I was thinking about how I could study alongside work, The Open University started showing up on my search engines every day. I wasn’t searching anything associated with studies, let alone distance learning—but it found me.
It wasn’t a conventional university, and I could learn from a distance—in my own time. This meant that it was all on me. I’d miss out on the campus university experience but I finally had a way to get my degree. It worked around my illness and made it possible for me to continue working enough to save—without accommodation debts. All I had to do was motivate myself, and not waste my opportunity.
That was four years ago.
Now, after changing my course—which put me a year behind, I’m only months away from graduating. I’ve managed to make it this far, juggling my work and studies, and I’m almost at the finish line—that, for a while, I never imagined I’d see.
Also, as predicted, my time working in the corporate world has also come to an end. My health continued to deteriorate, which affected how much I could work in an office-based organisational structure. Cutting my hours down didn’t help enough, and eventually it was decided that I was unfit for work. I was forced to resign.
However, due to realising that I could juggle so much whilst feeling so unable, I felt courageous. The courage I felt for accomplishing so much, to myself, inspired me to share a passion of mine that I also crossed off my list when I was diagnosed with my condition. Writing.
I started to share my writing on social media, and instantly people appreciated it. It was motivation to make my dream come true. Again, I was reminded: I wouldn’t be given the ability to dream, if it was impossible for my dreams to come true. With that being said, not only am I almost finished university, my fear didn’t come true. I’m not restricted financially.
Yes, I had to resign due to my disability; but I’m still able to work—doing what I love. I’m a Freelance Writer now; able to work from home or the hospital bed, if need be; and I’m happy.
My university, or college, experience hasn’t been what I expected—it’s been even better. I’ve worked hard, I’ve made myself proud and I didn’t let life defeat me. Thanks to The Open University, this has been a time in my life that will never be forgotten. University has been a huge part of my story and I’m forever grateful.
Written by Liss Morales