The picture above is me at 18. It's probably apt, because the clear liquid in that glass is not water. By 18,I was somewhat less of a car wreck than I had been at 16 and 17, but still with a long way to go. Thinking back that far (6 years ago, a little over) has mostly been prompted by chatting to a former teacher of mine. This talented lady just took the assistant head job at a school I did my lower sixth in, and didn't fair well in. She also had the misfortune to teach me both before and after that particular disaster.
As a consequence of supportive parents and some pretty amazing teachers, I pulled through my upper sixth, a lot of resits, a lot of abusing my body and soul, and a lot of indecision, and passed a few A' Levels and got to the next bit, which for me was uni, it was a step I was glad to get to, and a year previous I didn't think I'd get there.
Moral of the story- I can't say don't do what I did- I did a lot of things, but I needed to learn about myself, my limits and what I wanted. I didn't do a perfect job of it, but with some supportive people who saw that I could make it somewhere, I got myself together. A conversation with a friend who will know who she is, who went totally out of character lately and all I could say was- I won't judge whatever you've seen and done in your life, but I don't always think "screwing up" is a bad thing, if you understand the lessons learned. And sometimes we need people around us to help us learn those lessons. My parents are my continued source of support- my mum is the one who keeps me focussed and gives me some of my best ideas, but I also wanted to take an opportunity to remember and thank a teacher who made a real difference to my life, who listened, offered alternatives, and reminded me there's always someone who might have been through something like you. It's a mark of the respect I have for her, and the difference she made, that I still like to catch a tweet or two with her 10 years after she first taught me.
I don't wish I could say that life has been a walk in the park since I left school. Nobody's life is picture perfect, and uni, for me, was necessary but not always enjoyable. I worked hard, I partied hard at times, but didn't leave with very many friends, or a sense of wishing it would continue. One of the few friends I took forward was the Skype date who part inspire the other side of my post, who somewhat ironically, only discovered my blog for the first time that evening. HI DEV!
Since leaving university, I've done a few different things and learned a lot more along the way. I had my conversation with my friend as I mosied about the kitchen in the new flat, batch cooking for the next couple of weeks, having started packing for my holiday, done a bit of washing and ironing, and thought about my career and gotten to know the sofa a little as well. And it struck me, that we've become adults. Dev and I have very different lives, in different countries, and we still insult each other and make jokes, but we're doing what we do, and despite not having a masterplan laid down that has rumbled along just like it's supposed to, but we're making it all work.
No matter the mistakes you make along the way, the hard times, and the times you spend thinking you're walking on air because you're so happy, no matter how far from your front door you travel or how much you earn, we all get somewhere. It isn't always the dream job in the dream Louboutins, but I can honestly say that with hard work and a bit of assessment as to what is truly important, I think you can make success in your own image.
Me, last month
Whilst to many, I may not be the vision of all successes, I am a mostly healthy, happy adult, I hold down a full time job that challenges me and I'm in a loving relationship. To me, these will always be successes of a kind. There is no magic secret to pulling my life together, it's just a case of deciding to make things right and accepting the help and knowledge of those around you.