I Had No Idea What I Wanted to Do After High School and That Was Okay

Welcome to the beginning of the new Hindsight series on Bloomly! If you don't know what Hindsight is about, here's a short summary of what it's about:

The Hindsight series consists of guest posts from various bloggers sharing their stories on Bloomly about any personal experience that they might have encountered that reflects personal growth, self-improvement, and/or struggles with mental health. The Hindsight series is about looking back on experiences that shaped who we are and have helped us grow, which we only see now with hindsight.

This first post is written by Nele from The Navigatio. Nele is an international English and Creative Writing student from the Netherlands. However, that was absolutely not where she originally expected she would end up. Not knowing what she wanted to do with her life, she was absolutely lost on picking a major. Here's how she ended up finding it.

Making the decision to move abroad to follow my university degree has been one of the toughest decisions I had to make. I know I’m not the only one who struggles to choose whether they want to get into higher education or what course to follow. With thousands of different degree courses to choose from, it can get a little overwhelming. Today I want to share the story of my way into higher education with you, to show you that picking the wrong course isn’t the end of the world!

I was 16 when I graduated high school in the Netherlands. We don’t have A-levels here in the Dutch schooling system and usually you go straight into a higher education course (either at college or university) when finishing high school. I was quite young, younger than most of my friends, and after my graduation I had no idea what to do with my life.

I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. 

I’d put everything into my application for a degree in music.  I’d been writing songs and performing for years and it was the one thing I could see myself continue doing in the future. But I got declined for not being good enough and not having a realistic idea of how the music industry works. I didn’t have a plan B. My parents thought taking a gap year would be a good idea, to go over all my choices again. But since all my friends were going straight into university, I didn’t want to stay behind.

Two weeks before the academic year started, I signed up for a communication degree. I had all intentions on finishing the four years, but after a couple of months I fell into a dark hole. I hated the course, I was unhappy, I felt incredibly lonely and insecure and I had no clue about what other course I could do. There wasn’t anything that I found joyful anymore because I was so stressed. It felt that doing a degree was the most important thing in my life at that moment and I didn’t want to drop out without having a plan B.

I skipped classes a lot, didn’t want to get out of bed anymore, got bad grades in exams and projects, lost contact with most people I befriended during the first few months and hardly saw my high school friends anymore either. I was in a constant battle with myself trying to find out what I liked, what I wanted to do as a career, what things could slowly lift me out of the dark hole I was in. I couldn’t see any way out and I didn’t want to disappoint my parents by dropping out of my degree.

I was in a constant battle with myself trying to figure out what I liked, what I wanted to do as a career, what things could slowly lift me out of the dark hole. 

During the second semester of my communication degree I started taking English classes. I’d always loved English in high school, but I almost failed my high school exams on English because I thought that I was that bad at it. The way they tested my English in high school didn’t fit the way I learned the language. I couldn’t learn vocabulary quickly and it ruined my confidence in being able to learn a foreign language. The English classes I took during my communication degree were different, though.

Every Friday afternoon I was supposed to have English class for three hours. Because of the timing I was usually the only student to show up for them, while others made an early start on the weekend. My teacher was an English native speaker from Manchester and showed me that even though I couldn’t drill vocabulary into my head, my English wasn’t that bad after all.

Those English classes ended up being the only classes I showed up for.

At the end of the second semester I dropped out. I had missed far too many classes to finish the year and I had no intentions of re-doing the year. But instead I ended up with knowing what I really wanted to do: English. I found a course in Manchester – English and Creative Writing – which seemed almost too perfect for what I was looking for. The year after, I dropped out and decided to take a gap year to save up money and get the right qualifications to get into an English university.
Manchester Metropolitan University
Manchester Metropolitan University 

And here we are. Four years down the line and I have one more year to go before I get my English and Creative Writing bachelor degree. I’ve been getting good grades, I love my course and the friends I’ve made here in England and even though it’s a lot of hard work, I’m very excited about the future. English and Creative Writing is a wide topic and it doesn’t give me any guarantees in a certain job, but I feel confident in getting a job I enjoy. My time at university so far has been incredibly rewarding, both academic and in growing as a person.

As long as I can do what I enjoy doing, I’ll be happy. Even though getting a job in writing is hard, especially straight after university, there’s lots of other options I can do with English. I’ve been working on getting my teaching certificate, so I can start teaching English in case I can’t get a writing job straight away.

Looking back at that time, it seems crazy that I never considered doing something with English. I was already blogging in English, I read English books rather than Dutch books, I spoke in English to my online friends. Even though the year I spent studying communication was probably the worst year of my life, I’m very grateful that it has guided me into doing the things I enjoy so incredibly much.

For those who are also struggling to pick a degree or have no idea what they want to do after high school. I want you to know that it’s perfectly okay to not know.

It's perfectly okay not to know what you want to do after high school. 

You don’t have to force yourself into a degree when you’re not ready for it. Some people simply don’t “learn” well in an academic environment, some people don’t find out until a couple of years after they finish high school, some never go into higher education. And they all turn out fine!

There are no guidelines on how to live your life, you’re in control. 

If you think you need some extra time to think, a gap year is always a possibility. If you don’t think university is something for you, you don’t have to go. I’m very lucky to have suddenly realized that English is what I’m meant to be doing, but by trying different things you’ll be able to find out your passions too!

I Had No Idea What I Wanted to Do After High School and That Was Okay
Nele Van Hout
About the Author: Nele Van Hout
Nele is an international English and Creative Writing student from the Netherlands. If you want to know more about her experience as an international student in England, check out her website, The Navigatio.

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