When I was in year 10 I made the worst decision of my life. I left school never to return again. I was a good student; I never caused trouble and always did what I was told during lessons. But things weren’t great, and mostly I loathed the prospect of attending.
I often refused to get up and constantly argued with my parents about playing truant – the majority of the time I won; my attendance was shocking.
The reason? I was a fat loser. I was constantly being picked on because I was overweight. I was quiet and shy and I never defended myself. I couldn’t concentrate in class for all the abuse: once I was shot in the back with a pellet gun.
The bullying was a day-to-day occurrence. I never told the teachers; people always say tell someone, but in reality, when you’re at school no one believes that it will help. A couple of months into the beginning of year 10 I’d had enough.
One day I was a pupil at the school, the next I wasn’t. I didn’t even tell anyone I was leaving; I just knew I wasn’t going back. A lot of people ask me why I didn’t change school: I just didn’t want to be the new kid at another school after everything I had experienced.
At home I was less motivated than when I was in education. I’d spend my days sleeping until late afternoon, then stay up all night playing computer games and watching television. I never strayed further than the nearest fried chicken takeaway to eat. I was stuck in a continuous loop, the same thing over and over.
A year passed before a youth careers organisation contacted me. I was sent to a place called Springboard, for young people who’ve left school early. It was the worst place for me, there were lots of kids there who were disruptive and would smoke, scream and shout during lessons.
I left after three weeks, I was knocked back even further. The careers organisation arranged interviews for colleges, but I didn’t turn up. A part of me couldn’t be bothered, but mostly I wanted to avoid situations where I had to meet new people my own age.
I presumed all of them would be like my old classmates. I signed on to Job Seekers Allowance and would spend time looking for boring worthless jobs with no prospects.
It was then that I realised I had to change my perception of what education and young people are like. I used to pass kids outside college every day and see people outside, chatting, laughing, while I was on my way to spend three hours in a room full of old people looking for a job.
So I did something about it. I enrolled at a college and a part of my course led me to Exposure, where I was able to write positively about something I used to be afraid of.
Obviously my education suffered by leaving school. I’ve got no GCSEs. My development as a person also suffered – I struggled with confidence and I have found it difficult to communicate with other young people.
Getting back into education is helping me develop areas of my life that I should have sorted years ago. I blame myself as much as the bullies at school. Maybe I should have ignored their jibes and got on with it.