I'm in need of advice with my life/studies. This will probably turn out to be a long post so here goes.
I did very well in high school mathematics achieving an average 97.5% over 6 math classes I took and achieved a 99% in 3 of those. It was during Gr.10 that I realized I wanted to study math and tried to purchase books to get ahead but unfortunately my family couldn't afford them. I participated in a few Canadian math competitions and did okay - placing in the 25th percentile in the Fermat Competition and making the cut for the bronze section for the Galois Competition. So I realized I had some skill (talent) at mathematics but never got a chance to nourish it. Nonetheless, I did well and applied to the University of Toronto for the Mathematics program to which I was accepted. At this point I honestly had no clue what I was getting myself into because I didn't really know what pure mathematics entailed. We started off Analysis with Spivak's Calculus and Linear Algebra with Friedberg et al. I honestly sort of hit my face because the level of abstraction was high and I had no prior exposure to it but that's how things are done at UofT. I also had bad working habits as high school was a breeze for me so my expectation was that university was going to be the same. It clearly wasn't and I started to do poorly. I also had this fear of not understanding what I read and being afraid of not being able to live up to my parents' expectations. So I lost motivation and started to trail behind. I ended up achieving a 70% in Analysis and a 78% in Linear Algebra I. When I did Linear Algebra II during the second term I had completely lost motivation and didn't do a single assignment and only read my text before the day of the midterm and got a 58% and so I needed a relatively good grade on my final to pass the course. I read the sections required for the final the night before and got the 50% I needed in the course to not fail. So I completed my programs first year courses and I was "happy". Summer came a long and I did useless courses because I had dropped physics and Economics during the year and the same trend continued. At the end of the summer, I had been placed on academic probation due to poor grades. As a matter of fact, I hadn't realized this so I started 2nd year with the same habits. Analysis II was being taught from Spivak's Calculus on Manifolds and once again I didn't have the motivation for anything and didn't do anything. I was also taking a course on ODE's and at the end of the year I had failed both because I hadn't done any course work. So as a result of my poor grades I was suspended for a year. During my year off I worked and before going back to school I studied Spivak's Calculus in a month doing a chapter a day and doing problems, but linear Algebra was left untouched. I entered 2nd year again and this time Analysis II was being taught using Munkres' Analysis on Manifolds and I was doing very well, but at the start of the second term my brother went through an operation and I had to take care of him and I had to be away from school for about 3 weeks. During this time we had started Multilinear algebra and differential forms and I wasn't able to keep up and fell behind and never managed to catch up. So at the end of the year I had basically only completed half of the course material and I walked into the exam unprepared and my final grade turned out to be a 56%. So once again I got the course but didn't know the material well. I started 3rd year and was taking Complex Analysis I (taught from Stein and Shakarchi), Real Analysis taugh from Pugh, Abstract Algebra taught by Dummit and Foote and Topology taught from Munkres. Sadly I entered with the same mentality as in previous years and I didn't do work. This time I was smarter and dropped these courses and only kept a class on Sociology. However, I ended up failing this course and I got suspended for 3 years. I'm just finishing the first year of my suspension and during this time I've had a lot of time to think about my life and what to do with it and I need advice.
Currently, I'm doing self study and I'm reading up on the mathematics I should have done during my first two years in school and plan on reading further. I feel my motivation is back and I'm once again enjoying math as I used to when I was in high school. I plan on going back to school at the end of my suspension in 2 years finish my degree. If any of you bother calculating I'll be 26 years old. I know I'll be older then and it can honestly be depressing thinking about heading back to school at that age and not having accomplished anything, but I really want to and if everything goes as planned I will.
I need advice considering my situation on what I should do. My dream has always been to work in academia, but I don't know (and I should probably be saying it isn't) if its possible to achieve something like that at this stage. I don't know if any graduate schools would be willing to accept me considering my course record and I believe the last time I checked my GPA was a 1.2 if not even less so to raise it to something respectable seems to be nearly impossible. I have also always had an interest in number theory so I've considered going nto industry. Forgetting it all and becoming a high school teacher has also crossed my mind, but I'm not sure which dreams I should let go and which ones to hold on to.
I've tried speaking to academic counsellors but they haven't been much help so I thought I'd seek some advice/help here. I would really appreciate any advice and words of wisdom or even a slap on the wrist.