At the age of 31, I am still a university student, even though that word only described me sporadically over the last six years. I spent more time hiding from professors and fellow students than in class.
Now that the depression is lifting, I can understand again what once made me want to study – for the first time in years. My brain and my talents were very suitable for entering the academic world: I used to have the ability to concentrate for hours, I needed to read something only once and could remember it afterwards, and – most importantly – I had a fervent passion for my subjects (prehistoric archaeology, geography and palaeontology). All of this died a miserable death between 2003 and 2005. I still tried to soldier on, during the short phases when my depressive symptoms weren’t quite as pronounced, but no matter how hard I tried, the crash followed only a few months later.
I am living off my parents’ support right now, which I hate, and my father is going to retire in three years, so until then I need to stand on my own feet anyway. Due to a major reformation process of the German university structure, it is not possible anymore that I finish my original degree, but I would have to transfer my credits to a new degree.
So one of the biggest questions in my life is right now: what am I going to do? If I kickstart the transfer of my credits, I need to be certain that I can last as long as it takes to finish, which I am not yet, especially since I’d need to work a part-time job additionally. (Finding such a part-time job proves really hard, as I am experiencing right now. They want students aged 21, not 31.) If I bid university adieu for good, all the time and money that went into it will have been wasted – and I don’t have a real idea what to do then either….
If the financial side were not a problem, I’d give myself another six months off (with the help of my therapist, I have been granted a sabbatical until October) and start university next spring; until then I should have fully recovered. I’d get a different degree (most likely in palaeontology) and hopefully a decent job at a library or something similar afterwards.
But since the financial side is a problem, I do not know if it weren’t better to admit defeat and start a vocational training for a job.
One of the problems is that I am not certain if I can really make a good decision yet. Depression messes with your perception of the future and your circumstances, and only one year ago, I was absolutely certain that I’d never want to go back to university again, but as I recover, this conviction crumbles away. I know now that I’d be very sad to not have a degree, so I’d need to be absolutely certain about a decision against it.