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My Life As A Mature Age University Student - Donna Tennant

Hi! My name is Donna, and this is my story…

In 2002 I graduated from high school. At that point in my life, I really had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Each week brought with it some new crazy “Donna idea”. However, none of these randomly generated ideas ever actually became reality. I was working three jobs all very different, retail by day, bar work, and waitress by night. My Life was crazy busy, but I loved it! Life progressed then I guess you could say it plateaued for the next year or so. It was then that my life changed forever; I was told I was going to be a mum!

Nothing and no one can truly ever prepare you for such a life changing moment. I was 19 and a mum, never did I foresee that this was how my life would pan out. Sleepless nights covered in baby vomit. Long gone were the days of late nights out with friends. Welcome to the world of adulting Donna, while your friends are all “living their best lives” or so I thought. Becoming a young mum really was not all that bad. It just meant my life for now was on a different path.

Fast forward to my life today, now aged 36 I am a mum to 3 beautiful boys and 2 adorable girls, yep! 5 kids a bit of a jump from just the 1 at the age of 19. Over the years I certainly experienced my fair share of heartbreak and curve balls. But I’m not going to ramble on and be a sad sack this is a positive blog here peeps! Ha-ha! What I will say though is endured a rather tormenting relationship over the years that brought out zero positivity in me. I had lost myself along the way and the sense of who I wanted to be. I felt as though I was in a very dark room and had nowhere to go. I was just Donna the mum with no ambition or hope. I felt helpless.

I woke up one day with a realisation that something had to change, that I needed to better myself. I had tried online courses, you know the ones promising you great outcomes, charging and arm and a leg and never actually going to benefit me. But for the meantime it filled that void. The more time went by, the hungrier I became to do something for myself, But what? And how? All I have known is how to be a mum.

Over the years it was common to find me at parties or in the bathroom stalls at the local pub or nightclub consoling that heartbroken girl (it really is more common than you think). My friends too were always coming to me for advice or just to vent their frustrations. I would always listen, I loved listening and helping them work through their problems. Then we are hit with 2020 a rather tumultuous year for many filled with devastation during a worldwide pandemic. No way did I see that coming. Lockdowns lead to depression and relationship breakdowns and a higher rate of domestic abuse (COVID-19 and Family Violence FAQs, 2021) Taking a look around and seeing so many people and families fall apart because they felt helpless and as if they had nowhere to go or anyone to turn to made me realise exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to help people, like really help people. I wanted to become a Counsellor, but how? Where?

I knew straight away that the university path was the one I wanted to take for this one, No doubt in my mind. I often wondered what I would have done if I had followed my fellow peers 19 years ago and went to university too, but that was only ever just a distant thought for me. I knew I wanted this but how could I possibly juggle 5 kids and study at the same time? Was I delusional to think that this could work out for me? It had been so long since I finished high school and there was literally no one that I knew in my position that I could ask, so I researched this one alone and low and behold I found Torrens University.

One thing about me that I can admit as I don’t do too well with rejection. From the second I applied my stomach was in my throat, I felt as if I was going to throw up. I told no one that I had applied I figured if I was not successful then I did not have to break the news to anyone. Then came my letter of offer, I was over the moon. It was then that I told my family about my first steps towards my future career as a Counsellor.

I was proud of myself for taking the step, I was proud to tell my kids that I was going back to school despite the fact I became a mum so young and that’s all they have ever known me to be. Yeah, they would see me putting hair extensions in women’s hair over the years (one of those courses, except this one paid off) but this was different, this was HUGE! and I was pumped. It was one thing to be accepted but another too actually follow-through and succeed. Then those dreadful feelings of anxiety and hopelessness crept in. I began to then doubt myself and once again tried talking myself out of not commencing the first trimester. I started to convince myself that I was going to fail anyway so why waste my time? Negative Nancy in the house! (Well, that is how I was acting)

Trimester 1 came around so fast and with support from my family I was off and running and I was loving it. At first it was so overwhelming, but I kept reminding myself that “I got this”. The whole process was new to me but slowly I got the hang of things, and I was off hooking and swinging (well not actually, but you get the jest) Trimester 1 was a successful one for me. I was so happy with how far I had come and the grades I had received for my hard work. I was sure that I could do just as well if not better Trimester 2, or so I thought…

Trimester 2 for me was more of a challenge and I had many days where I wanted to just give up. My lecturers were all so supportive as were my fellow peers. I started to again doubt myself and my capabilities and convinced myself that I was not smart enough to achieve what is expected of me. There was a lot going on in my personal life that really reflected throughout the work I submitted at that point, UGH!!!!! Donna get a grip girl! I pulled myself out of the rut I was in and made a promise to myself that I would give Trimester 3 my all and I am.

Deciding to go back to school at my age was a decision that I did not take lightly but I knew the path that I chose was one that I could see myself really being passionate about.

Now when people ask me what is it that you do Donna? I proudly reply with I am at university studying to be a Counsellor and I am loving it!

Donna X

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