Why I Chose To Work In Retail Rather Than Go To University

If you’d have told thirteen year old me that I’d be turning down the opportunity to go to university in London in favour of working in retail in Middlesbrough I wouldn’t have believed you. For years I had my heart set on escaping my hometown and moving to the big city, I swore I’d never work a 9-5 and settle for a normal life, but thats exactly what I did- and I don’t regret it. This time last year, I was applying to study an undergraduate film degree, and now, I’m applying to stack shelves for minimum wage. So why did I give up my dream?

“This time last year, I was applying to study an undergraduate film degree, and now, I’m applying to stack shelves for minimum wage.”

A Need For A Slower Life

When I was in education, the pressure of exams and coursework meant I took work home with me. It wasn’t just a case of going there, doing a job and coming home, there was revision material to make, essays to write and mock exams to do. On top of this, I didn’t have any enthusiasm for my subjects so for the last six months of my A levels my life felt exhausting and eventually I just gave up going to lessons. My mind was so clouded, all I was thinking about was getting through the academic year and I didn’t have time to think properly about my future plans- I only applied to university because I was going with the motions.

I took a gap year to get away from the cycle and planned to travel, but soon realised that I didn’t want to go to a different country alone for months and so instead got a job in retail over Christmas. I found that when I started work, my life slowed down. I had regular, relatively short shifts that got me out of the house but didn’t exhaust me, I enjoyed my job, I didn’t have to take anything home AND I was getting paid. I was going at a steady pace and had time to enjoy myself properly in my time off, whilst giving myself time to think about future plans thoroughly and save up for them at the same time.

A Need For A Faster Life

As I mentioned earlier, I eventually gave up going to my A level lessons and ended up watching daytime TV most mornings, with ‘Homes Under The Hammer’ being my show of choice. I became, and still am, obsessed with the it and have set my heart on becoming a property developer for a living.

I’ve realised that although I have the opportunity to the fast life in London now using a student loan, a degree and the debt that comes with it would leave me starting from the bottom at age 22. I’d more than likely be working long hours for someone else, struggling to pay my bills, and saving up for one holiday a year. My ultimate goal is to be a successful business owner with an apartment in Manhattan and the time and freedom to go wherever I want whenever I want, which requires me to think FullSizeRender.jpg-3-1long term, be a self starter and put the long hours in now, even if it means staying in my dreary hometown for the time being. Renovating houses isn’t something you can be taught at university and unless you have enough in the bank to buy a house upfront, entering the world of property development will require months of saving, which is precisely why I’m now putting more time and effort into retail interview prep than I ever did for an A level essay. I haven’t given up on my dream of being successful by working in retail, I’ve just realised that long term results require short term sacrifices. Every hour I spend stacking shelves means more savings in the bank, which means I’ll be able to buy my first investment property, which means I’ll be able to buy more properties after that, which means I’ll be able to set up my own business, which means I’ll be able to buy an apartment in Manhattan and travel whenever I want and live the fast, big city, jet setting lifestyle I’ve always wanted.

But until then, I’m perfectly content with my steadily paced retail life, balanced with plenty of free time thats not taken up by revision, filled with blogging, theatre and cinema trips and plenty of holidays. Retail life has actually proved to be better for my mental health and work/life balance than education ever did, so I’m going to enjoy it for the next year or so, despite how much my thirteen year old self would hate me for it.

I’d love to know your thoughts on retail life; do you hate it or are you enjoying the steady pace of it like I am? Leave a comment and let me know! Megan x

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1 Comment

  1. February 20, 2018 / 8:44 pm

    I applied to uni as well because teachers told me ‘you’re too clever not to go!’ but I really didn’t want to and decided not to when I’d got away from sixth form and didn’t have them constantly pestering me! I got a job in retail which I enjoyed to begin with but the unsociable hours, weekend work (when my partner is in the army and only home on weekends) and horrible customers took its toll! Retail work is often well paid and is a great way to save money to pursue your dreams, I’ve left it now and have a job which is actually a little lower paid but it’s something I love and the hours suit me more! I hope you achieve all your dreams, it seems like you have it well planned out!!

    Jess xx

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