When I was a child, and well into my teenage years, I was bullied. I was bullied a lot, because I was different. As a child, I preferred books to playing, adults to insults cast around a playground. I liked learning for learnings sake, and I could run faster than the most popular girl in school, who had taken an instant disliking to me. As there were only four girls in my little primary school class, our teachers told us we had to be friends. We really weren’t, and we didn’t have to be. It meant I was often left out, often mocked, often picked on, but I didn’t mind so long as I had a corner to curl up in and a book to devour.
Secondary school, the bullying got worse. I liked being neat, I was quiet, I was nerdy. I didn’t have many friends. And the few friends I did have, were all four years above me and I had met while performing a musical. The worst of it was in Year 8, when my tutor told me that I had to stop being successful, and neat, and polite in order to fit in. It was made even worse when she made me bring my friends to meet her, because she didn’t think they existed. I was bullied by my peers, and the woman who was supposed to be in charge of my emotional wellbeing. Luckily, after my mum heard, I was eventually transferred to a different tutor where I trusted my tutor not to let me down. In fact, I ran to her with all and any problems over the years.
Back then, I was called a dreamer, I had my head in the clouds, firmly believing that there was somewhere and something better for everyone. I believed in fairies as passionately as I played netball, and I didn’t let people tell me that I was an idiot. I wouldn’t let them temper my beliefs. If they couldn’t see that it wasn’t the fairies I believed in, but the possibility, then that was their close mindedness, not mine.
I was going to be a doctor. I was clever, I was methodical, I was kind. All anyone ever told me, was that I would be a Doctor. I accepted it, no question. Why shouldn’t I be? It made my father (My father, the one who I always felt I needed to be better, for him to pay me some attention, any attention) proud to tell people what I wanted to do. then I decided I didn’t want to. Suddenly, he wasn’t proud any more. I was just his clever daughter. But I wouldn’t let him get to me. It was my life. I wanted to be a nurse, a teacher, anything that made me happy. At one point, I wasn’t going to go to university. But at my heart, I am a creative, and I am an academic.
I have changed my mind over what career I want to do, so many times. But I realised recently that deciding your career now, while useful, isn’t imperative. Alan Rickman was a graphic designer before he gave it all up to be an actor. Dreams don’t often coincide with reality, but sometimes they do. And people change careers all the time.
What I am trying to say, is that you don’t need to plan your life. You don’t need to panic that Joe Bloggs has known he was going to be a lawyer since he was six. Good for Joe. But you aren’t Joe. You, are You. And the only person who knows what is best for you, is you. If you are going to be unhappy for the sake of money, don’t do it. It isn’t worth it.
So, do something that makes your heart skip a little, that puts a smile on your face and a spring in your step. Do something you love. It may be teaching, a hard, politics filled career, but with so much for you to give.
I want to write. And I want to know more about language. I want to know about what processes are involved in the selection of words as I type out this sentence. I want to know how I have managed to translate a thought into speech. Why are some people better at articulating themselves than others? I want to travel. I want to perform. I want to be surrounded by Shakespeare and classics. I want to sew. There are a lot of things I want to do. Nothing coincides with any money yet, but its more the realisation that I need more in my life than just existing to pay bills, waiting desperately for the weekend. Everyone is individual, everyone is unique, and everyone changes over their lifespan. What works for you now, may not work in the future. You have to do what is right for you.
Listen to advice, yes, but don’t let other people’s opinion of you stop you from aiming for your own stars, and not theirs.
Chin up, the sun will rise!