It was November of 2011. I had visited numerous universities and was swamped with prospectuses, leaflets, and promises of the fantastic world that higher education had to offer.
I applied to five different universities to study English and soon received offers from all of them. I liked the sound of university; it seemed safe, secure and meant I had another four years of being nurtured under the watchful eye of tutors, mentors and examination boards. I had an extra four years to focus on the short term before having to step out into the big world of business.
Which is why I decided to withdraw my application.
And it turned out to be the best thing I have ever done.
Ever since I was tiny I have always known what I wanted to do. I would tell everyone that "I just want to write." (I even completed my first book at the age of eleven). And, after a year of interning with a magazine in London, I knew that this was the world I needed to be in.
Writing had always been my saviour - if ever I was down, bored, happy or excited it was there to cherish and channel every emotion. I have always held a fascination for the power of words to evoke feelings and emotion in a way that nothing else can.
As September of the following year rolled around, I bade farewell to most of my friends after helping them pack their bags for a life in halls. As they all shot off to their chosen destinations of higher education, the realisation hit: I was all on my own.
It was soon after this that I was offered an internship at Vogue - a truly pivotal moment in my life. To be offered the chance to work on a publication of such prestige and historical relevance represented a tremendous opportunity and I could not wait to start. It lasted for one month and, although I was truly thrown into the deep end, I soon learnt to swim and found myself thriving and learning more than I ever thought possible in such a short space of time. It was a life-changing experience.
After this I secured a few freelance positions as well as a part time marketing and PR role at a modelling agency. however although I thoroughly enjoyed every task assigned to me, I still felt there was something missing.
But I still knew this void could not be filled by exam papers and dissertations.
It was at this point that I realised I wanted to work for myself.
My creativity and passion for the world of editorial was beginning to make me itch. Strange as this may sound, it is the only way I can describe it. I was desperate for the chance to change not only my own life, but that of others. To be able to help; to inspire - the same way I myself had been inspired by the industry. I wanted there to be no restraint or limitation on my own creativity - for ideas to flow and be as outrageously wacky and wonderful as possible.
And that exactly is what I've done.
I came up with the idea of Seen in the City - an online fashion and lifestyle magazine that I launched earlier this year. Since doing this I have had the chance to sponsor fashion shows in London Dubai and LA for House of iKons, attend top fashion shows at London Fashion Week and interview some of the most fascinating figures in the fashion world, from imaginative designers to incredibly talented makeup artists to photographers who transfix you with their work.
At the age of 21, I already manage a small team of dedicated writers - something I never dreamed I would be doing at this stage in my life.
I know that if I had gone to university I would be no better off than I am now - and certainly would not have had the four years of experience that I have garnered since diving headfirst into the fashion world straight out of college.
I want this post to encourage others to follow their dreams. If I could offer someone on the cusp of their twenties any advice, I would say don't just go with a generic life plan because it 'looks right' or because it's 'what everyone else is doing.' Take time to think about what you want to achieve and how you are going to get there. If you are looking for a profession in medicine or teaching, sure: uni is a necessity and in no way am I slating it. But I also want to encourage anyone who doesn't get in to university: it is not the be all and end all.
Sometimes you have to sidestep the safe option and take a risk. Work out what direction you want your life to take then work as hard as you can to get there. You really are capable of so much more than you realise. And it doesn't matter if the plan doesn't work out. Eight out of 10 start-up businesses fail. That's a daunting statistic - trust me, I know! But whether your backroom business flops from the start or you become a multimillionaire overnight, you will come away with invaluable life skills, experience and a whole new outlook on life. Although wandering off the conventional path to success can sound risky and - let's face it, terrifying - it is also phenomenally exciting. By stepping out into the great unknown, you never know where your life may lead and what exhilarating opportunities could be waiting just around the corner.Suggest a correction