Well, I was hardly in ‘med school’, it just makes for a better title. I was in my first year of university. I got a great ATAR, and everyone told me not to ‘waste it’, they told me I needed to go and do medicine, or law. So I put aside my strong love of music and performing, and moved to Sydney and began to attend The University Of Sydney, as a student of medical science. All was well for my first semester. I had moved out of home, I was making new friends and loving my new found independence, so I didn’t have too much trouble ‘grinning and bearing’ the calculus and the chemistry.
I began to feel very down and depressed during exam week. I had no prior experience in calculus, chemistry or psychology – and these were ¾ of my subjects. I assumed that this feeling of distress and sadness and constant anxiety was normal. I thought “I’m at university now, this is what its like”. I finished my exams and went back to my home town the next day, and I was so happy. I was completely euphoric at the idea of not thinking about my subjects or uni work for a month. I passed my subjects, all with credits, and I felt rather accomplished. I had all the time in the world to play my flute, write songs, sing, lead on camps, and do all the things that I loved doing. I felt so happy and close to God.
When uni went back, I packed my bags and went back to my dorm in Sydney. I was happy to see my friends again, but this depressed, anxious, sinking feeling was washing back over me. I was finding uni extremely hard, it was an insane amount of work. I was taking the same subjects, and I was struggling. I got to a place where I couldn’t stop crying, I couldn’t get out of bed, and I didn’t want to see my friends. By week 3 I had dropped a subject, and by week 4, I was in seeing a GP, who diagnosed me with clinical depression, and got me to start seeing a psychologist. Everyone was telling me that it wasn’t the degree that was making me depressed, it was the depression that was making me hate the degree. But as I went about being treated, I realized that uni wasn’t getting easier. It was still making me so anxious that I was shaking, I was still struggling to get out of bed in the morning. I had stopped running, I had stopped playing my flute and I had stopped enjoying my life. My GP was recommending antidepressants. (Just to be clear, antidepressants are a good thing, they pick you up from the chemical low in your brain and help you to begin feeling better, they don’t have to last forever, and eventually, you begin to feel good again without them).
I finally decided to go part time on the university census date (the final date that you are allowed to drop subjects without paying for them). I dropped all my science subjects and just kept my elective (fundamentals of music). I felt like a huge failure. I had essentially given up on medical science. I felt as though I had let the depression win. I had no clue what I was going to do with my future. All I knew was that I didn’t want to be depressed, I wanted to get better, and that was never going to happen while I was doing those intense subjects and hating them.
As I was praying through the decision, the craziest thing happened. When the subjects were gone, I immediately began to feel better. I started playing the flute again, I started connecting with God again, and I even started running again. I felt so free. I felt as though God was really directly letting me know that I wasn’t meant to be a scientist. I still have days where I feel downcast, but they are not as frequent as they once were. I now feel excited about pursuing music and ministry, the things I am most passionate about.
I don’t regret my first semester. I learnt a lot, and I believe God sent me through that storm for a reason, I know myself a lot better now. I am certain, that even if I amount to nothing by this worlds standards, I still have a savior who loves and, and who died for me. I think that mistake is what I needed to give me the courage to pursue ‘the arts’, something that people with ‘good marks/ATARS/grades’ are encouraged not to do.
I hope this story has inspired you to chase after something you love at uni. It can be stressful putting in UAC or college preferences at the age of 17 or 18, when you have no clue who you are or what you want. But, I hope my story inspires those of you who are getting ‘good marks’ not to be pressured into doing medicine or law just for the sake of it. Do something you love. God gave you your passions and talents for a reason. ‘Smart people’ should pursue the arts, and good marks don’t mean that you are limited to medicine or law.