I said YES to myself
How did I go from choosing my dissertation subject to dropping out of university in one month?
It wasn't easy but I finally said no to letting my mental health take a back seat and decided it was time to take care of Bruna. University isn’t for everyone and it certainly isn’t easy even for those that chose it.
I started University in 2014 and let me begin by asking you this. What does it mean to be young, black and attend a minority university? (Oh, let me not forget a being a woman too). I spoke like a ‘white girl’, didn’t dance to afro beats (probably because I’m from South West Africa and we listen to afro house) and didn’t have a clue where I could sign up for lessons. So, I locked myself in my room until I was ready to emerge as the BLACK girl I was meant to be. I’ll be honest in saying that, turning into that girl has moulded my career and my choice to leave university, but that was almost a year later so I’ll guide you through the journey.
I didn’t go university to get a degree, establish my career, grow as an individual, or get involved with sports/societies. All the reasons you’re supposed to go. I went to escape so you won’t find me at lectures, I stayed in my room and did nothing at all apart from ruin my credit score and throw myself down a hole of financial stability (I’ll tell you about that another time).
Whilst I was stuck in my own personal prison, I had a cell mate who told me I was a white girl to be ashamed of, not straight away of course, after the black girl came out. (I don’t want to give out a stereotypical name so let’s just go with the variations of my name Bruna – the 'white' girl and Brunia -the black girl.) I started to think about all different things that weren't right when I started university. My escape soon became a nightmare. I was unable to grow and flourish as an individual because I no longer knew who I was; step 1 of my breakdown.
This continued until I became the BME Officer at my Student Union and as you can see Brunia flourished.
That’s where it all began for Brunia the girl who writes before you now. I was a mix of Bruna and Brunia trying to figure out who I was with still no change in attending lectures, however, it was step 2 of my breakdown. So, I dedicated myself to my role as the BME Officer at my university. I guess that was the point when Brunia really came out as I saw a point to attending university. Being the BME Officer opened my eyes to the difficulties I faced and constantly shrugged off despite knowing how to help everyone else, throw events and campaign for mental health. Which brings us on to the third and final step towards my breakdown.
The Mental Health campaign was organised by the Vice President Welfare Officer Pauline Stephenson. I pushed all university related stress to the back of my mind and put a smile on my face even though I was fooling myself. I was continuously feeling like a failure even when I put all my energy into my work, leading to many nights full of tears and a face full of makeup the next day. That’s when my self-hatred took over everything in me. (I wish I could tell you everything but I’m not at that stage yet). All I know is that I learnt what I needed to from University and now it’s time to figure out who Brunia/Bruna is and prioritise my mental health.
That’s what University is about. Using the resources available to you and maybe just maybe changing your wave and figuring out what is necessary at that moment. Whether I finish this degree I don’t know. Whether I’m seen as a 'black girl' I don’t know. How far I go in the world of HR recruiting black students to university so they can attend the lectures that I never, I don’t know. What I am sure of is that it is worth saying YES to all aspects of yourself; mental health, career and putting yourself first.
Twitter: @DiabanzaWrites & @BDiabanza