Be Left Behind

Widow Tweed leaves Todd behind in The Fox and the Hound

One of the things I love about being at home is that when I walk into the house between 12 and 2pm on a weekday, the Jeremy Vine Radio show is playing through the radio in the kitchen and for some reason that I can’t explain, it has a very nostalgic effect on me. For years, my Mum and I have sat and listened to Jeremy Vine, in our kitchen, in the car on the way to Cornwall, York, Devon. We’ve cried, we’ve been educated, we’ve laughed. It’s a great show and I love hearing different members of the public’s opinion. 

Yesterday afternoon, my Mum and I sat and listened to one of the most heartbreaking shows I’ve ever heard. It was about a boy who had committed suicide because he felt left behind and extremely lonely after his friends and girlfriend had gone off to university, and he hadn’t quite gotten the grades so was going to reapply the following year. His mother Wendy had called in, and spoke to Jeremy so calmly and bravely that my tears immediately filled and I looked at my Mum with glassy eyes and saw she was choked up, too. This boy’s Mum told of the love her family shared, and how she never saw it coming.

Of course, this incredible lady touched a chord, and many people called in talking about how desperately lonely they felt after friends went off to university. Even before I heard Wendy speaking through the radio in our kitchen, I knew I wanted to write a blog post about the feeling of being left behind. In many ways, it is linked to the FOMO which I wrote about a couple of months ago. Read it here. It is linked to that, because part of the reason why Wendy’s son, James, felt so isolated, was because of things such as Facebook which displays, like a great, big, shiny sticker emblazoned with “Your missing out!”, all of your friends photographs and statuses showing what a seemingly fabulous, amazing time they are having at university. Of course, like I said in the post about FOMO, photos tell a different story and are a one second snapshot, usually only showing the best moments of someone’s life. It doesn’t talk about all the crappy times they are having as well. And, for someone already feeling vulnerable and lonely, it is easy to forget that photos and statuses aren’t a realistic picture of how much fun someone is having. It is a smoke screen – it is not a reality.

A few of my friends at the restaurant where I work are not going to university this Autumn, and I hope they don’t feel too depressed about it. I have already texted a couple of my closest friends there, and assured them that I’m not gone for long and any time they want to have a chat they can just call or text and I’ll be there to listen and laugh. It’s difficult to make people feel better when you are leaving them behind. Some people are totally OK with it, they realise that university isn’t just about getting drunk (well, especially not now that I am going into 2nd year and things are getting a bit more serious now!) All I can say, is that if you have friends that aren’t going to university, for whatever reason, just make sure they know you will still be there for them.

Wendy, who spoke to Jeremy Vine, was offering her advice to young people not going to uni. She was telling them to meet up with people, go for coffee, and was encouraging people who were going off to study, to just make sure they sent the occasional text to their friends back home. She believed that one text can make all the difference. At the very least, it shows somebody that you’re thinking of them, that you mean something to them. Because, as Wendy said, James felt very unloved. Not necessarily by his family, but by the rest of the world. He didn’t really feel like he was needed – didn’t feel important enough to be on this Earth. Let’s not let any of our friends ever feel like they’re not valuable to us. If you aren’t going to university, please don’t feel too down. If it’s something you want, you can get there, I promise. It may take hard work or night classes or whatever it may be but you really can achieve anything if you put your mind to it. The first time I applied to university I didn’t get in anywhere and I actually had good predicted grades! So I just reapplied the following year, after working damn hard and getting solid grades in my hand (not just predictions). If university is what you want, you can get there.

Don’t take everything you see on Facebook at face value – most of it’s showy offy bulls***. And finally, like I said, if you know anyone who is feeling a bit upset about staying at home while you go off to uni, make damn sure they know you love them and are there for them. Seriously, it takes no effort, but it could make all the difference.