A dismal Ben greeted me this morning in the kitchen, saying he felt like a failure and "useless". So in came Mama Matty to instantly (hopefully) put him right on that count, reinforcing the fact that he's been so courageous to admit there was a problem right at the start, rather than letting things spiral downwards... There must be loads of new students who aren't being so courageous and really should make the decision to jump ship while it's still early days and resume when they're in a better place. Like the obviously ED girls we saw walking around the university yesterday... (whose parents must be worried senseless)...
It also took a lot of guts to admit that, yes, there are still issues which need dealing with and which he can't fix, even though over the past few months he really thought he could. And these may need professional help - mainly on the social / confidence front plus a few underlying ED issues. If we can't get NHS help then I know who to bring in privately. Sod the expense. This time we're going for Gold.
As to his dismal comment that "everyone else" is out there, at uni, forging ahead in life and all that rubbish, I responded that "everyone else" ISN'T out there, at uni. Quite a few of his friends have taken a Gap Year - and he is now taking a Gap Year, just like them. And when the "everyone else" who began this year have finished uni in three years' time and are sitting around miserably trying to get jobs, he will still be at uni - AND he will have valuable work experience behind him which he gets this year. So he'll have a head start. And also, hopefully, the UK economy will be in a better place in four years' time.
And he will be that little bit more mature. And so many people have said that taking a Gap Year is GOOD. So many GOOD REASONS to do it.
I told him to get out the 2012/2013 diary I'd bought him for uni and use it to plan his days, initially job hunting. It might be a paid job or it might be voluntary. Far better to do a voluntary job you enjoy than a boring job you hate - and far better to do something useful, where you're needed and are doing good. Actually, he said this to me before I said it to him ;)
He already has formal Barista training behind him and he spent the summer working part-time in the charity shop up the road.
He's applying for a weekend vacancy at Games Workshop - his passion, where they sell, paint and play with Warhammer fantasy battle figures. But he recognises he might not get it, and even if he does it might not be immediate. And it's only a weekend job.
"So why don't you get down there to Games Workshop and offer to work as an 'intern', for no pay? They know you already, so there's no ice to break. Tell them you've decided to take a Gap Year and couldn't think of a better way to spend it. If they say no or they don't know, then get onto Head Office. Pester, pester, pester until they're so sick of you they give you a job. I know this works because it's how I got into my own career and how I set myself up as a freelancer - by putting myself out there, by phoning people (in the days before email!). It's scary and it took me way, way out of my comfort zone (the world's #1 Shy Person, that's me) but I had to do it. No choice. And it worked."
Loads of other ideas, too, which we are going to list and work through.
Meanwhile the two of us have been working on his CV this morning. But, wherever possible, I want him to do stuff for himself. I don't want to do it for him.
Onwards and upwards, as they say...
"And let's make this a bloody brilliant year for you, Ben!"