I was reading my book today, John Green's Paper Towns, and it got me thinking. I myself am an aspiring author which, to me, sounds ludicrous. "Author" is this word that ten year old me put on a pedestal and created other dreams around, all whilst looking at that one big one.
At ten years old an author came to our school and we gathered in the library, it was a tiny room with books in tattered plastic casings, sat cross legged on the floor waiting for our MYSTERY GUEST to walk in. She came in; dark curly hair framing her face and a pile of books about witches tucked under her arms. She sat on a stall, one of those 3 legged ones which feel like at any moment you're going to feel the hard boink of the floor after it has given way, and she looked at us and began to read. She read her story with such joy and excitement that I decided at that moment that I want to enjoy something as much as she did and then she said she was an author. My mouth dropped. I don't think ten year old me had thought about the person behind the title but this woman seemed amazing and that was it. My pedestal was created.
Why a pedestal? Why not a dream I could reach? Lets just say Trunchball worked out my school and, after I had corrected her multiple times in further maths, she took a disliking to me. I was a know it all and she didn't like it. (I wish I could say this trait had completely vanished as an adult but it still lingers in the background but mainly only reappears in a debate.) Trunchball didn't encourage my writing or my dreams and I left them on the sidelines thinking I would never achieve them. Fast forward eight more years and you find me at college, about to take my A-levels and apply for university. My dreams were reappearing, my pedestal dream looking better than ever and a few other reachable dreams dancing around it. For my application to my chosen university I needed a B in English Literature, something I had achieved throughout my time at college, then came the conversation...
Me: I need a B in English Lit to go to X university.
Prof (who I previously liked): Oh...
Me: Yeah, so I'm going to study extra hard so I get there.
Prof: Maybe you shouldn't apply there, look at other universities more at your level.
Dreams crushed again.
Come results day and I DID IT! (A part of me still wonders if he said that to try and make me try harder but, as a teacher myself, I can't imagine squashing a child's dreams for that purpose. I spend my life making them believe anything is possible, convincing them that failing isn't failure).
Trunchball Teachers x2
Dreams crushed x2
Pedestal Dream x1
Reachable Dreams x5
University Place at 1st Choice x1 (Get in).
University rolls up and 4 years flash by, I am qualified to teach and terrified of doing so. I step foot in the class, panic and, deep breath, everything goes well. Then there is this one maths class. The children come in from break,
"I'm well bad at maths, Miss."
"Yeah and me, I'm going to be rubbish forever."
Gather thoughts and begin the speech:
"Put your hands up if you think your bad at maths." Most hands go up. "Put your hand up if you know more today than you did last year." Most hands stay up. "So what I'm hearing is 'I'm not as good as someone else so I'm bad'" Agreement throughout the room. "Am I a top class athlete? Have I been to the Olympics? No. Does that make me bad at sport? There will always be people better at you in something but they will not be better at you in everything and if you don't like that they're better than you, change it. Practice more, study harder, do whatever it takes. You can't be a failure if you are still trying. Who in here would say they are good at football?" Most of the boy's' hands go up. "Who here is good at art? Creative?" More hands go up. "Everyone is good at something, and it is ok if you haven't found it, when you do find it; chase it and grip it and keep at it. Don't knock yourself down because you aren't the best because you are, you just need to figure out how." *Drop the mic*.
After that class the children left talking about the things they were good at, they told each other things they were good at and some of them even thanked me. I then sat in the room all of break thinking about how I haven't taken my own advice. I tell the children everyday to follow their dreams whilst my one has sat on a pedestal for almost fourteen years gathering dust. Once I'm home from that day I begin thinking and then I begin dreaming and then I begin writing.
I am finally on my way to being an author and nothing will stop me.
- A Twenty Something