Last week, I started thinking about the challenges and emotions I experienced at the beginning of the year. Without a doubt, this year goes down as the most stressful and trying in my entire existence. I have learned one lesson in the process: the invisibility of a light at the end of the tunnel does not necessarily mean that things will not get better.
I remember being filled with so much elation at the end of last year when I received the news that I had been admitted to study journalism honours. I was ready to embark on my newest academic adventure. My joy was soon overshadowed by the anxiety of not knowing how I was going to finance my studies. I had no money for registration, never mind my tuition and accommodation fees.
When the day of registration came, and Wits offered debt agreements for students who couldn’t pay registration fees there and then, I was left with no choice but to sign on that dotted line. As I was signing, I was at peace with the fact that I was not alone in this battle, that there were other students facing the same problem.
When classes began a few weeks later, I found it difficult to enjoy the course that I had always wanted to do. At the back of my mind toiled the fear of being financially excluded from this prestigious institution.
The funding opportunities at my disposal and for which I had applied, returned with a negative response, if any at all. With several attempts at calling to enquire about my applications, some failed to explain why they were unable to fund my studies.
As the months went by, my experience was one of tremendous defeat. The pain felt more like a punishment. I suffered dreadful unhealthy thoughts, fear and worry. I found myself continually questioning the worthiness of proceeding with my studies. Returning to Limpopo seemed to be a much better option than enduring the strife.
I realised that I was lacking coping mechanisms and that it was difficult to perform well academically when I was distressed.
I have seen a number of students across the country taking out their frustrations about their funding struggles on social media. I also came across various articles that revealed student financial burden as the predominant source of depression. All of this made me realise that I was not alone and that there were other students who were swimming in the same pool of frustration.
Thankfully my darling mother, MaMmotla, dispelled my doubts and induced a sense of optimism in me. She would tell me, that it was going to be okay and that I should persevere and that something would come up. With that little encouragement, I was able to gather myself and weather the storms that lay ahead.
The beginning to the end of my financial stresses came two months ago, when I was awarded a full bursary. The burden I had been carrying around for so long lifted off my shoulders. It meant that I would now be able to focus on my academics and finish this year on a high note. I am now able to invest and immerse myself in the course a little more than I did, and focus on enjoying every moment of what is left of my honours year.
As clichéd as it may sound, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Things may not go according to your envisioned plans, but it is important never to cease searching for opportunities and definitely never to throw in the towel.