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Learning what I am capable of

Last month I sat in front of my computer screen, eyes filled with tears, watching the Open University advert, what really gets me is the final line: ‘The most important thing you learn with the Open University is what you’re capable of’ and it couldn’t be any more true for me.

When I left school, I went to college and basically had a lot of fun, I didn’t learn much though, and had no plans or appropriate qualifications to go to University. Instead I got into administration work, I didn’t earn much and I didn’t progress far, it just didn’t excite me. I knew I wanted more from life and I was able to do more if I could just decide what I was going to do. It was when I was pregnant with my second child aged 25 that my husband convinced me to give the Open University a try, and it turns out it was the best decision I’ve ever made! I started hesitantly with my first level one courses, it was hard going, my youngest son was two months old when I began my first module, and it was difficult in so many ways, a real test. It had been many years since I had written academically, and even then, never to the level I was writing now. On top of that I had a 19-month-old toddler and a 2-month-old baby, time management was a real struggle; late nights and early mornings were needed plus an extremely understanding and supportive husband. I also tried to attend tutorials which were absolutely terrifying, but so good for learning and understanding the material. I slowly got through my first few modules, and decided that it was time to go back to work; I wanted some work experience to go alongside my studies. However, I still wasn’t entirely sure I was on the right path, in fact I changed my degree path three times, I just didn’t know exactly what was right for me. Luckily this is one of the benefits of the Open University, the opportunity to be flexible and explore your options. I finally decided on BSc (Hons) Psychology, which as it turns out, was absolutely perfect for me and I got a part time position with my local mental health trust.

I continued to work through my modules, while balancing work commitments and my family commitments. I completed biological psychology and exploring psychology and next, one of the best moments of my studying experience, a residential school. I went to The University of Sussex for a week long residential school and met some of the best friends I have ever had. Following the residential school I found that I was carrying my third (and final!) child, ironically I was pregnant and gave birth during my child development module, possibly my favourite module of the degree for many different reasons. This was partially because I enjoyed the content, and found it incredibly informative; also because it was in some tough moments at this time that I really learned what I was made of. For the second time, I found myself studying with a new-born baby in tow, this time though I had a baby who never slept, plus I was also now studying at a higher more intense level with two older children to also care for. Exhaustion, sleepless nights with a baby and late nights studying, moments of pure despair, self-doubt and frustration, but I kept going. I overcame every hurdle and finding out that I had passed my child development module was one of the best moments I have ever had.

Today I received my final degree result and am amazed to find myself with a 2.1 classification, which is more than I need to go and study my MSc at the University of Essex. I couldn’t be more proud of myself in this moment, and I hope that I have made my children proud as well. There is a saying, nothing worth having comes easy, and this did not come easy. I have worked hard, I have sacrificed time with my children, my husband, my friends and family; ultimately our family life has been changed beyond what I ever imagined it would be; but every single moment has been worth it. As the advert says, I have learnt what I am capable of and I honestly now believe that I am capable of anything I put my mind to.

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