By: Kgabo Chuene
I did my first year in 2009 at Wits University. I was registered as a Bachelor of Accounting Science student. My decision to study Accounting was not an informed one. It was a career sold to me by companies and my family telling me that as a black female I would undoubtedly get a job and be paid lots of money when I would eventually become a Chartered Accountant.
I didn’t particularly have a reason to not do it so I went ahead with it; after all I was doing really well in Accounting in High school. I quickly realised in first year that it wasn’t at all what I had in mind and began then wondering if that was what I wanted to do as a career. I struggled in my first year for many reasons including the fact that in high school I never really had to study and I found that my high school methods were a recipe for disaster. So in first year I failed two majors, which meant that I needed to repeat the year. I decided to give it another try.
I went on to repeat the year and finally scrapped through to second year in 2011. In 2011 I was not motivated because it was the year I knew for sure that Accounting was not what I want to do on a daily basis. I felt stuck and afraid to change my mind. My parents also felt that I should just finish the degree and have it as something to fall back on as my desires were beginning to lean more to the Arts. Once again I stayed in Accounting. That year I failed again and had to repeat second year.
So 2012 I was doing second year again, that is when the fight just stopped making sense to me. It was no longer about whether I pass or fail. I fought for it and did everything I possibly could, and I really feel like if something demands more than my abilities and resources available to me and even makes me emotionally sick, it’s kind of like asking a fish to climb a tree. It left me feeling stupid and incapable when I’m actually a smart person and where I implement my strengths I excel.
At that point I felt like walking away from it would not be quitting, I felt it would simply be turning away from a mistake. I also realised then that I was a young adult and that I needed to make my own decisions and conclusions in life because I can no longer point fingers about the direction my life is taking, not even to my parents. It doesn’t mean I won’t finish anything that I will ever start going forward. In fact I could get this Accounting degree even if it took double the time.
Even while I was feeling this way, knowing what I know, I was still on my desk giving that final exam in 2012 my all, which I managed to pass and was allowed to proceed to 3rd year if I had chosen to. To many it seemed like “just one more year” but for me it was more than that. I would have had to give of myself and remain bitter.
Every lecture, every tutorial, every test and exam. For me it would have been individual days of continuing with a mistake and I felt I was quitting on my dream. People who know better should do better. I finally gathered the courage to pursue my dream and I left. I was asked many questions and the most common one was whether I was changing degrees because I found it difficult or because I really wanted to do music.
This question challenged me to actually consider that, was I in fact just scared? And was I running from this thing that I am clearly failing? I looked at my life and all the choices I’ve made. I remembered my battle with Maths in high school. In grade 10 my average was a 40%, I went and got extra lessons and attended them every Saturday.
By grade 11 some of my peers were dropping maths but because I was so determined to get into university, I stayed. My average in grade 11 had picked up to about 50% by the time I had to apply. I went on to apply and was rejected by all the universities which were options for me. In the June exams in my grade 12 year I had a 65% average for maths and went on to get 73% as my final mark and was accepted by three universities. This reassured me that I actually fight for the things that I want.
Even the year when I knew Accounting wasn’t what I wanted to do I studied as if it was, I pushed till the end. In 2012 I was a part of a production organised by the Student Development and Learning Unit at Wits, which was an opportunity for students who aren’t in the Arts faculty to take part in a production.
I had never acted before. I found such fulfilment from the rehearsals and just being around artists. That just solidified my decision to change degrees. We went on to perform the production at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival. My character had a singing part as well, which is my first art form. There I was, first time actress on a national stage, I thoroughly enjoyed every moment.
I then applied to the Wits school of music and I got accepted to start in 2013. I want to major in performance and composition. I am fulfilled, it hasn’t been easy either but it makes sense to me to fight for the things I want. I did well last year and I’m looking forward to this academic year. This is really to say that “quitting” is sometimes necessary, however we choose to look at it. Someone once said “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again” then they added “then quit, you don’t have to be a fool about it” Thought that was funny.