Today I had a chat with someone who has a superpower. His superpower is that he can chat with someone for only 10 minutes and empower them to fix any problem by the end of the call.
The problem I shared with him started in my childhood. I can’t remember when I first picked up a book but, when I did I was hooked. I loved the way a book could transport me to another world and show me people and places that were very different to my own experiences. Enid Blyton was a favourite and I dreamed of being one of the famous five, off on adventures with my pals and Timmy the dog.
My reality was very different. I was the oldest child of three but my younger siblings were boys and that meant that I spent most of my time on my own whilst my brothers did things together and didn’t want a girl joining in. I was incredibly shy and spent a lot of my time lost in a book dreaming of what adventures I’d get up to once I was older. Why is it that so many of us dream of doing things but so often push those dreams off into the future rather than doing something about them at the time. None of us knows how much time we have on this planet so we need to start chasing our dreams right now not putting them off as that way they may never happen.
By the time I went to school I could already read and write well and English was my favourite subject. I had a vivid imagination too and my early school reports praised my abilities in this area. When it came time to go to secondary school I easily got into the local grammar school and was already getting poems and short stories published in various publications of that period.
It was around this time that my dad started to have frequent chats with me about what I wanted to be “when I grew up”. He had never had an opportunity to take exams and get qualifications growing up and seemed really excited about the fact that it was looking like I would have an opportunity to go on and get to university. Something that he would have loved to have done but never had the chance.
All I knew back then was that I wanted to be a writer but, Dad didn’t see that as a “proper job” He continually drummed into me the importance of getting qualifications and picking a career that would make a lot of money. Money was never a strong motivator for me, I much preferred to help people and got a lot of satisfaction helping others in any way I could.
As well as being good at English I was also very good at maths and actually enjoyed it too. I preferred applied maths rather than pure. I used to daydream about going back in time to an age where ships navigators were required to plot a ships course taking account of the prevailing winds and tides. Those old wooden ships embodied my childhood thoughts of adventures and exciting worlds with unimagined experiences. I longed to break free from my boring life and live a life bigger and bolder.
Throughout my teenage years my dad continued to push me towards something I really didn’t want. He decided my best bet would be to do maths at university and then get a highly paid job such as IT or accounting. I couldn’t think of anything more boring and didn’t want to spend my life shut away in an office or factory so landed on the idea of being a nurse. To this day I’m not really sure where that decision came from other than recognising it as being something I could do to “help people” and realising that if I got into one of the London teaching hospitals I would finally get to experience life outside of the boundaries of my family. I thought it would satisfy dad’s requirement of me getting a “proper job” as by this time I’d pretty much given up on my dreams of becoming a writer and was no longer entering competitions or writing anything except what was required for homework.
At 16 I found myself with 8 O levels and entered sixth form to take 2 maths A levels. I was still listening to my dad and that was what influenced my choice of subjects. He fought me all through the last two years at school and tried desperately to get me to apply myself so that I could get into university but it wasn’t my dream. I messed about and enjoyed myself with friends during those two years knowing I didn’t need A levels to get into nursing and ended up leaving with only one barely scraped A level in maths but with enough qualifications to enter my nurse training now that I was 18 (no younger entry back then) I knew my dad was disappointed in me and that seems to have followed me all through my life as I often pull back from doing things as I tell myself I’m not “good enough”
Years later, after I’d qualified as a nurse, I started a degree course and rang my dad to tell him. The conversation went something like this “Hi dad you’re going to be so proud of me when I tell you this, I’ve finally decided to go and get a degree, what do you think of that?” His voice sounded excited as he asked me “what’s the degree in?” “Nursing” I said and then his words came straight back at me “oh, not a proper degree then”. I went from feeling like an excited child, about to get praise from daddy, to once again feeling totally inadequate. Once again, I had failed to be “good enough”
But my question now is…… Who was I not good enough for? Why was it so important to get praise from someone who so clearly was a very different person from who I was? And, lastly, given that that experience happened over 30 years ago, why am I still living my life trying to get approval from someone who I haven’t even seen for just over ten years? Why have I continued to live my life not daring to give my writing a decent go?
Well in a ten minute call today I accepted a challenge and am declaring that that stops now. I am committing to giving my writing a really good go. I will work at it properly for the next year and see where that gets me.
I have written 3 chapters of my book about fairies and magic and I will finish that and publish it. I am committing to doing a haiku poetry book aimed at helping people with anxiety and depression and will finish that by the end of April. And I would like to write my story about my experiences of having OCD, anxiety & depression and my subsequent successful employment tribunal against my former employers. I want to show others that one person can make a significant impact on injustices and improve life for others experiencing discrimination.
Writing this has been quite cathartic and I’m going to publish it on my blog so that the world can witness my intentions and watch as I take back the life I was meant to live.
Watch this space!!!