When I was a teenager the only thing in the world that I wanted to do was write. I absolutely loved to escape from life reading a book and then rewriting the ending the way I thought it should have happened.
In school, I loved English. Was totally focused in class, while everyone else moaned that English was on the timetable, I was absolutely thrilled to get into that classroom and get lost in literature.
My English teacher was a writer, and not only did she love to write but she taught the skills really, really well and I was remember being so amazed and in awe of her when she told me that her goal was to be a published writer. From that moment I absolutely idolised that teacher (the most uncool thing you can do as a teenager, right?) because that’s what I wanted to do too. If she could do it, then I could too.
Over the next few years, that same teacher arranged for me to write for various newspapers and children’s publications and showed me what was out there. I even got to experience two consecutive summer internships in a local newspaper, writing small news features. For a 16 year old, this was a huge deal. I had made it. I was a writer.
But with GCSEs and maturity(barely), the questions began to come. What is it you would like to do? What will you study in University? What? what? what?
Writing stories won’t pay the bills. That’s not a job. That’s something you do when you have lots of money and don’t have to go to work. You can do that in your spare time. Keep that as your hobby. All of a sudden, becoming a writer didn’t seem at all possible. It was a dream and those are the things you have when you’re asleep. Not when you are awake and making decisions.
Over the next few years, I trained in various roles in the childcare sector. Had one or two really lovely jobs but I just wanted to write. The passion hadn’t gone away but the time to do it had. Working 8-6 in a Nursery, travelling home and taking on lots of courses and additional skills trainings in the evenings while trying to balance the type of social life a 19 year old girl is supposed to have.
At 20 years and 9 months I finally enrolled in University in London! I had spoken to an advisor and we had come to the conclusion, that in order for me to get the most writing experience in University without doing Journalism, I should be doing a PR degree.
As a PR student, I had many amazing experiences. Co-founded a society, held events in the University where outside speakers came in to join us. After 3 years, i’d written hundreds of press releases, given presentations, written lots of discursive pieces, written for radio broadcast and even landed an intern position on a online magazine in East London. I still wasn’t writing what I wanted to write. There were no jobs out there that fitted into my vision of being a writer and if there were, they certainly weren’t any that would pay me to live in London.
So, in that moment, I did what 90% of the population do. I put my dreams on a shelf. I made the decision to enrol for a PGCE course which would ultimately lead to a 40 year career as a teacher and not that of a writer.
I am writing this, to make it evident that we are dream stealers. We are so conditioned to the fact that there is only one way to live that we teach the children in our lives not to dream. Not because we don’t see the best in them or that we don’t want them to be a pro athlete, or a dancer, a singer or a writer but because training and practising and editing doesn’t pay the bills. Treating patients, sorting finances, defending in court, teaching children, those things pay the bills. Right? So what, we go to school, go to work, get old and then we die? Is this really what we are up against?
Right now, I am making waves to change this for me. I am working on my plan B. I am still in a full time employment in the property industry but one day, I will have the ability to sit down and get that book out of my head and onto paper. And you know what? I am absolutely loving my experiences along the way as I build my life on my terms.
So I am here to ask you to watch me… hold me accountable to this which I am about to share with you. Ask me about it, challenge me. Push me forward. Please, be a part of it with me.
Over the next few years of my life, I AM going to write with the aim of publication, whether that be print or online and I am going to be DAMN proud of me for doing it.
Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you cannot do something, just go out there and do it and make them feel stupid for ever doubting you. You CAN shine and you WILL shine if you believe you can.
When your little boy or girl tells you he/she wants to be an astronaut or an actress, don’t put their innocent dreams on the shelf beside mine and yours because they deserve better.
Go out there and start working on your dream. Let’s make the shelf a little lower to the ground.