It’s been almost 2 weeks since I first moved into the University of Essex and it’s been such an amazing time. When I first arrived, the thing that most worried me was the social interactions. Partly due to my autism, and partly due to just being an introvert, I was convinced that I would probably spend all my time outside of lectures hiding in the quiet part of the library.

But that isn’t what happened, just a few days after moving in, I went to my first social event. What surprised me most was how nice everyone was, and suddenly, I became more confident. Now, I’ve signed up to be a member of 7 different societies, I’m regularly going to social events, and I love it. I’ve found people who share my interests, and most importantly, are ok with who I am.

After the last 4 months, so much of the way I saw the world and myself has grown. Working with BlackRock under the Big City Bright Future program taught me that I can have a successful career if I am confident and believe in myself. My experience on results day taught me that, no matter how bad things get, there is always a way forward and that it’s okay to fail, as long as you don’t give up. Now the University of Essex has taught me that I can be a social person, and the people will accept me for who I am. At the start of this year, I believed that my autism was my greatest weakness. Now I know that it is my greatest strength. This is something my Mum, Tanya Beck has always told me, and now I finally understand, so thank you Mum for always believing in me.

So remember that there is always a path forward in life, there are always people who will accept you for who you are. This year has been so amazing for me, and I can’t wait to see where I can go next!

Gabriel is studying BA Philosophy, Politics, and Economics.