I first shared a similar post to this on my wedding blog, A Very Curious Wedding. I thought it might nestle nicely in with some of the other self development posts on this site, so I’m publishing an updated version of it here – I’m nice like that 🙂
There have been many periods during my mature years when I have found myself forensically dissecting my childhood. Maybe it’s because I have finally reached a time in my life when I know who I am and what I’m capable of, and I’m kind of fascinated by the shy little creature that used to be ‘me’.
When I start down the reminiscent route, I inevitably think about my time in education. My school days were some of the most frightening, puzzling, annoying and downright soul destroying times of my life. It’s hard to fit into society’s idea of academic excellence when your heart yearns to create. It’s even harder finding your way in the world when your mind keeps daydreaming.
I can remember very clearly sitting in a classroom, cross-legged on the floor as my teacher went from pupil to pupil asking us what we wanted to be when we grew up.
As my turn grew ever closer, my stomach began to tie itself in knots. Not only did I hate having to speak aloud in class, I had absolutely no idea what to say. I sat there in terrified silence as enthusiastic seven year olds shared their plans with ‘Miss’. The air was filled with shouts of, “hairdresser”, “ballerina”, “train driver”, etc.
Looking back on that day, apart from re-living the excruciating embarrassment of actually saying the first thing that came into my head when the teacher’s expectant gaze fell on me – “car painter” ( I’d been helping my dad to respray his car the day before and had rather enjoyed the experience), I always feel bloody annoyed.
You see I don’t believe in pigeonholing people, and to expect children to have their future mapped out at a young age seems monumentally unfair. I’m a big believer in personal development, sometimes it can take years to find out who you really are.
Not that there’s anything wrong with ambition and having a burning desire to enter a certain profession from a young age. Far from it; I’m always quite envious of anyone who always knew what they wanted to be. Life must be so much easier when your path is clearly marked. But a lot of us will always get just a little bit lost in the woods.
Just as my daughter did
My daughter, Rachel, used to get really stressed when she was younger. Like her mum, she struggled to forge a path. The pressure from society, school, peers, etc to choose a career was huge.
When she eventually went into meltdown and came to me in tears, I said to her, “If I told you to you go and buy a pair of shoes, they are the only shoes you will ever be able to wear, you can’t try them on before you buy them and if they don’t fit you, tough luck. How would you feel?”
“I’d say that was unfair, you have to try shoes on to see if they are comfortable,” was her answer.
“Think of a career in the same way,” I said. “You may have to try on a few to find the one you really love and that’s okay.”
And try she did. She enthusiastically threw herself in to a number of roles, before finding her own place in the world. It’s called A Taste Of Wonderland and she creates the most amazingly intricate and artistic cakes. She is also a young ambassador for the Prince’s Trust (#proudmum).
For all you kindred souls out there who are wandering through the woods trying to find your way in the world and wondering which direction to take, here’s a bit of advice – it’s okay to take a few twists and turns. It may take you longer to find your way to Wonderland, but when you arrive you’ll be certain that you’ve found the right place, and you may even learn a lot from your journey.
Oh, and in case your wondering. If I had been forced to choose – my shoes would be black, shiny and have killer heels!