When I was 13 I dropped out of school, due to what I’ve come to interpret as a vicious circle of being bullied and being a weird child. I was home educated for a while, then did some Highers through college (though almost entirely from home). The vicious circle became less about bullying and more about finding it very hard to make friends or even meet people.

The vicious circle was already beginning to break by the time I started university, thanks to a very accepting and gradually expanding group of friends. I think acceptance may be the only thing that could have broken it. I wasn’t going to get any less weird just sitting on my own all day every day trying to write fantasy novels.

But in terms of structure and sense of forward progression through life, going to university was an important and scary step for me. I hadn’t attended an educational institution regularly since my two sporadic years at high school, which had been a horrible depressing nightmare. I honestly had no idea if I would make it through the first week of uni without having one of my old panic attacks and fleeing out the door never to return.

I graduated on Wednesday. (Thanks to my mum and brother for the following photos.)

Me standing with some people.

Me shaking hands with a man.

Me in front of a castle with a bit of paper.

The whole experience was incredibly challenging and yet reassuring. Not only did I somehow manage to fool some more nice people into being friends with me, I was able to function well enough to write essays on time, attend almost all my classes, pass exams and eventually graduate with a First Class Honours Degree. Not exactly walking on the moon, but just a few years back I would never have thought this possible.

Forgive me for building such a simplistic narrative around these cherry-picked events from my life. Not everything has changed. I’m still not exactly confident. I’m still jobless and living with my parents. I’m not much fun at parties. But progress seems possible now.

It’d be nice to think that some other insecure person might read this blog post and take some sort of lesson from it. But that’s assuming a lot, and I’m suspicious of those who dish out advice indiscriminately as if people are all the same. In truth I’m not sure there’s any broader lesson here than, if you’re me and it’s 2008, you should go to Napier and study English. Well, I guess that’s something.

If you’re me and it’s 2008, you should go to Napier and study English. Trust me on this.