My milestone (the one that has been around my neck)
Today marked a milestone, one I think I am supposed to be proud of. A day that I thought would never come and secretly wished would never come. I will pre-warn you that this post may become quite ranty (not sure that is even a word!). You see today I have given in to the pressures of modern capitalism and eventually decided to pay my student loan back, using a bank loan, eyeroll. I could cry, from anger, sadness and a general feeling of being ripped off.
I will take you back to the start to give you some perspective on all of this!
So firstly, I was luckily always supported by my family to pursue my dreams and do something I loved. Something I was good at. Maths was out of the window, PE? No chance! So I decided to stick to my love, my passion and that was art. I loved it, it was something that made me feel good, that I was good at, I looked forward to doing. All those things and more. I had dreams of becoming an artist, of living in a house with a studio, of always being creative! How I have changed, now that life has got in the way!
I stuck to my guns and enrolled into college, my subjects were art and English language. I love the English language and writing and I dreamt that one day I might even write a book and illustrate it. So I went through my A-levels and passed them with grades I was proud of and that spurred me on to keep following my dream, sticking on the path that I thought would lead to happiness and contentment. After college I wanted to go to university and keep up my art, learn more techniques and expand my knowledge, so I did. This is where things start to turn to shit to be honest. I had to do a pre-degree foundation course in order to be accepted onto my Fine Art degree. I was motivated, I had my eye on the prize, so I wasn’t too concerned and signed on up, (“not too bad, I hear you cry”, wrong!). I was then told that unless I went straight to university I was not eligible for any grants, as college didn’t count. I couldn’t go straight to university, as I needed to first complete the foundation year. We were the guinea pig year, anyone born in 1979 or thereabouts might relate to this. I feel our year were unlucky in education, as we were the guinea pig year for a lot of things, (I also wanted to pursue drama, but we were only allowed 1 choice at GCSE ,as we were the test year for that BS too).
So a bright-eyed, highly motivated, if somewhat naive teenager went on to college to study the subject she loved. I had a great time all through college, don’t get me wrong. It is when adulthood took hold and kicked me in the teeth it made me regret things. I again passed my course with great grades and enrolled to university, taking the decision (one I am now so bloody grateful for), to stay at home, as it would be cheaper. I may look like I roll around in money for the fun, believe me this is not true.
I once again completed my university course (Fine Art and Art history) and passed with flying colours. At this point I think that it is fair that I add that I have worked since I was 15, all through finishing school, college and university. I mainly funded my own education. I did however need to buy things for uni, thinking paints, etc were all free was obviously stupid of me! I also hear the judgemental thinking “ Well it is a stupid degree, what did you ever think you would do with it?” to which I would like to make the following points;
1, It was 6 years in total of bloody hard work.
2, I had to write huge essays and thesis for this degree, not just paint a couple of pictures.
3, There are jobs in this field, but as I found out you need to have some luck and be in the right place at the right time to find them.
4, Yes I could have chosen to teach, but I am allergic to children.
5, Whilst on the subject of children, how’s about we just crush all of their dreams now!
6, If we were all supposed to be accountants, or something, why do I suck at maths?
7, If the world was full of the same kind of academics, it would be boring and I would have jumped off by now.
Now I borrowed the most piddly amount of student loan and only twice in the 3 years. I was lucky, some friends in my class had debts that were already into tens of thousands of pounds. When you signed the form, the ridiculously low interest rate was mentioned and that you didn’t have to pay anything back until you earned X amount. Yes all the bullshit was fed to you and none of the reality of what life would be like with this sodding government shaped noose around your neck.
I started full time work straight from uni, as I was skint and worked in a bank, I do get the irony after my admission to my totally crap ability with maths. Then the student loans started to take money from my salary, so I got a second job on a weekend. I continued to work and work bloody hard, with each mundane job, my dreams were slipping away of a life as a creative person, an artist. I applied for jobs for things like art therapy in prisons and never got them. Life then came running by and it got in the way of everything, well everything apart from this bastard debt that was chasing me, ever growing. I don’t even have a credit card, as I am so worn down by this all.
I moved abroad and the letters still came, I paid some money back from my salary from jobs even here, in NL. Do not be fooled, they will chase you and find you. I wasn’t even running away from it. I wanted to pay it back, but I couldn’t. I wished I had never gone to uni, the interest was still mounting and the fact I couldn’t secure a permanent contract meant it just kept growing. I started to realise that I haven’t been very arty since moving, the whole experience has left a bitter taste in my mouth. I still dream of getting back into it, but now I never have time and I still have no studio and now I have self-doubt in my ability after all of this time.
I am disgusted at the final amount I have ended up paying back. I cannot believe that we seem to be going back to a time when education, and certainly higher education is for the privileged few. Are we really turning back the clock to try and enforce a class system. Is the system and the government really failing kids so badly that they have to choose not to pursue their dreams and having the belief they can do what they want; be a successful musician, fly a plane, land on the moon. The list goes on, like all kids dreams should. They should be encouraged to reach for the stars and know you can touch them. It should show that if you work hard, you can achieve things, not if you’re from a wealthy background. So government and the (hilariously named non-profit) student loan company, take my taxes, take my loan and your extortionate interest rates and pay for kids to go and follow their dream, now that you have tainted mine. Also know I am now writing and being creative and I can sleep at night knowing that my conscience is clear. I will get back into art, even if it is the last thing I do and kids, keep dreaming and keep believing.