I think it’s safe to say I’m very different to how I was aged 15.
I got thinking about this last week when I had what can only be termed a “wobble”. It was an exam day and I’d spent it revising and wondering if this was really what I wanted to do forever.
When I was 15 I went out with the boy next door- literally, he was my next door neighbour. Now I’m engaged to Samantha, and am going to spend the rest of my life with her. Since then I’ve left home (3 times). I’ve studied in 3 different establishments. I’ve graduated. I’ve had numerous jobs. I’ve seen friends come and of course, sadly in some (but not all cases), go. I’ve taken my driving test not once, twice but eight times. I’ve had 3 cars. I’ve broken down on the motorway. I’ve still not learnt to change a tyre (sorry Dad!) I used to always have my tea milky with one, but now that’s a treat and when people ask how I take it I usually say “Just with milk- I’m sweet enough”. I do a weekly shop and I’m getting dangerously close to being a real grown up. But I don’t feel like it.
I often wonder if I’ll ever feel like it, actually. Of course another thing that’s changed is when I was 15 I thought I was a real grown up. I knew exactly what was right for me and exactly what I’d be doing following Uni. I’m an obsessive planner and I knew that I’d finish Uni, get a training contract and be a high flying solicitor by the age of 25.
Problem with plans is that sometimes life gets in the way.
I always knew I wanted to do law. I was moderately clever, or at least that’s what real grown ups told me, and I didn’t know what I’d do otherwise. Law was fancy and interesting and I was willing to work hard. I’ve always been a bit of a geek, I suppose. Now I’m 23 and have managed to get a foot in the door at a law firm and- thankfully- I enjoy it. And I think I’m quite good at it. I am quite good at it. Needless to say my big plan has been offset slightly by life’s events.
My brother was quite different to me. Not great at academics until a later age; he messed about and was slow on the uptake. But when he did get it, boy he got it. By the time his GCSE’s came round the little Brainbox matched me. He went on to do a-levels and unlike me was not certain he wanted to go to Uni. Cut to 2013 and he’s about to start his PGCE while teaching real life kids in a real life school from next month. He’s overtaken me and is going to have a career first!
What if you don’t realise you’re good at something until it’s too late? I’d not written for pleasure since school, until recently. Then I realised I enjoyed it. And that given a quiet half hour and a pot of tea I could scribble out (metaphorically speaking of course) something half decent that hopefully someone will read and think is okay. Suddenly I realised what I needed to be was a Journalist.
It makes perfect sense. I could have daytime pyjamas that were not for sleeping in and a massive twitter following. Seeing things I’ve written in print is a big rush. I’d gone and made the wrong decision, hadn’t I?
I could have changed my career path at any time. After GCSE’s. After A-levels. After my degree. But I went on to law school. Shortly I’ll be commencing my MA in law and Business. There’s no rest for the wicked.
I realised after my wobble that I find law fascinating. It’s challenging but I don’t want an easy life. I also realise that I should be very grateful for the opportunities I’ve had and have. My education. The support of my loved ones. My Dad taking 3719 photos of me when I graduated- effectively we have the event in a flick book.
But what about the 15 year olds who don’t have the support?
It’s a lot of pressure to make someone choose the subjects they’ll study which will allow them to do a Uni course they want to do at that age. What if they change their mind? What if all they want to do is design dresses but their parents say that’s a waste of time and go and do a proper subject? What if they don’t think they’re clever enough?
I might have wanted to be a doctor, but I was rubbish at Science. I might have made a brilliant doctor. I wouldn’t, but that’s because I’m not good at thinking outside the box and have a sensitive stomach, not because I couldn’t work out one end of a Bunsen burner from the other when I was in Year 10.