It’s never easy being young…

People are always afraid of getting old, of finding those fine lines and grey hairs of time passing them by, of missing opportunities and the sense that each day you’re the best you’ll ever be. If I’m honest, I’ve never really prescribed to that philosophy. Since a child, if I was the closer side of six months to my birthday, I’ve always rounded up. Being young for me was always difficult, always feeling too old for my years and hating the condescending stares of those more experienced eyes around me. Age for me always represented, progression, wisdom, experience, passion, learning… Moving away from the past and growing into the person that I feel inside, each year finding my feet a little more…

Thats easy to say when everything’s going well, when you’ve a plan, when you’re still only 22 and have you ‘whole life ahead of you’. But it’s not easy beings young – the Argo, the angst, the attitudes. All this raging hormones and learning curves, new lessons and choices to make. The world might be your oyster, but they are a delicacy to get used too. There’s the opposite sex, and sex, and then the ex; growing pains, growth spurts and guessing… It might be an exciting road we travels, but however worn it’s still got its fair share of bumps and twists and turns.

Decisions come thick and fast, what to do, where to go, what to be, who to be with, what to want, what t get, what to aspire too, what to work for… And that sinking feeling that these questions will remain unanswered and sought for a fairly long time. Life after all doesn’t get any easier or let up instead striving forward and creating new challenges – not the easiest thing t comprehend. If I could go back and grow up again, I can say I wouldn’t. I still haven’t for a start, I’m still 15 somewhere inside, trying my best to look the part, to fit in, to do well, to achieve…

But it’s not easy. Even getting out of adolescence isn’t easy with the present economy. School leavers, or Uni graduates, everyone s struggling to find their place in the world. Those with a career plan are finding it virtually impossible to get started in with the lack of jobs, and the rest who are unsure are desperately vying for whatever wage they can take. As a young thing, I’ll admit it all seems a rather daunting prospect.

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The Eternal Learner…

For me there is nothing greater than studying. I know that sounds clichéd, and like one of the sentences I’m spun at University, about becoming more than just a degree, becoming an academic – but its true. I love studying. Ever since a young child I loved school, I loved the idea of learning, of feeling myself getting cleverer, storing information in my memory banks to draw upon, having those light bulb moments when suddenly everything makes a little more sense, you understand everything a little bit more.

Of course when you’re a child that happens almost continually. You are more or less bombarded with a new slice of information, slither of experience or newly figured fact on a minute by minute basis. As we get older, that seems to change. Suddenly we understand the basics, we have the answers to the simple stuff, how to read, write, (in my case, attempt) maths, science… our biology. It’s all there and readily explained. We’ve drawn our conclusions on our basic views, our opinions on the big stuff, religion, family, politics, education… We’re already quite formed.

What do we learn as adults? Relationships. There’s a wealth of experience and knowledge we continue to learn there, about ourselves more, with each new experience comes a moment of self-awareness… learning to drive? That always seems an odd one, it’s the first time since a child when we learnt to walk, to ride a bike, to swim, we have to do something that seems completely impossible and illogical to us….

Studying, makes the world, my world, more interesting. The more I learn the more I feel I have to offer, to contribute, the more I understand the smaller things in life, the more opportunities I give myself. I reform opinions, have my ideas challenged and tested, have my intellect stretched, my own foundations undermined, and…. I love that feeling. I love learning something new. Studying English it’s almost something everyday, a new word for my vocabulary, a new concept or idea, historical, philosophical, psychological, sociological details I didn’t know before.

I love reading something I’ve never heard, researching something and discovering a new interest, going into the tiny details… I can feel myself brighten up with each new sentence or concept, my brain buzzing with questions, ideas, contradictions. I lose hours lost int he recesses of my brain processing, ordering, thinking, understanding. I love finding out about everything – anything. What really interests me  is the big picture stuff, culture, society, gender… to civilisations, history, the makings of man.

I study when I shouldn’t be studying, constantly undertaking a new course or programme to keep my mind active. I qualified as a TEFL teacher last summer and this took at Level Four, Educational Psychology, learning about studying – learning why I like studying, we like learning – studying about studying. It couldn’t have been a more perfect course… I’m reading and studying Epistemology, the theory of knowledge, after my degree I begin teacher training, a masters… I’ll never stop wanting to learn – it’s just me.

Everything is a learning experience. Reading, articles, the newspaper, novels, facts, watching programmes on life, on art, on culture, on history… Talking to people. Getting to know them, their story, imparting and sharing knowledge. Life is so rich, so full of amazing things; of knowledge, interesting people, of questions, I just want to enjoy and share it all. We never stop learning, so why don’t we embrace it whole heartedly and aim to learn something new, each and everyday. I certainly do, do you?

The joys of Mobility.

I’d never really given it a thought, what it means to be mobile, the sense of mobility and its function in our lives. It wasn’t until both my legs were cast and I struggled to move around as normal that it occurred to me. I wasn’t disabled by any means, and I do not think I will ever comprehend how difficult it must be to be impaired in such a way but I was hindered. I was stared at and commented on, I was unable to get about in my usual way, struggled to move in spaces and around town, struggled to move on with my life.

Yes I don’t just mean mobility literally but more in the sense of upward mobility, life’s mobility of continuing on a journey. Since the news of my legs and what not I haven’t been able to, get on with things as I was. University is effectively on hold awaiting test results to decide whether I return or take a year out for recovery, I can’t drive or get to see people with my legs in cast, I am stunted in this place, in this time, in my life as it is at present.

I take it for granted that I can do what I want, that I have the freedom, the means, to further myself and do as I wish. To go to University, to study, to live independently, to plan a career, to make long goals, to develop myself into, well an academic – supposedly.

How many people don’t have that opportunity, the means or the start in life, the physical ability and are therefore hindered in choices, maybe mentally they are held back by experiences or mental health issues, or maybe they aren’t born in the right area, in the right class, the right colour, they don’t fit the demographic that allows us to move on and have chances in life.

Are we all Naive to think that we are all as free as each other, to do as we please, to have the same chances? So yes we all get an education by the state, but anyone who has worked in more than one school, even a classroom can tell you the differences in education received by students not just in the teaching but in the classroom environment and the children’s ability to learn within their group.

Are we to believe we live in a society where racism, gender, sexuality still doesn’t affect those employed, the opportunities we have, that it doesn’t have a bearing on the decisions and the opportunities of others? I am grateful that I have the opportunities I do in life, and am thankful for the start I was given by my parents. I have chosen my career to try to help others, to impart knowledge, to give everyone the same opportunities, but life is unfair, and it hinders some of us.

We are held back by aspects of our lives, we are hindered by our experiences, we are changed by our environment, we are dictated to by the state. The only thing we can hope to do is, try, be happy and  continue to fight. Not literally with violence but to not give up on a dream, on an idea, on a desire, on our ambitions. Its important, its something we can all do, despite whatever may be in our ways, and its the one thing we can all hang on to.

I dropped out of college due to health problems, I passed my GCSE’s with 5 after having not attended school in the last two years, and suddenly the specifications for my board of examinations changed. I had to restart my two-year studies, and be way behind. I found another way, I wanted to do an access course, I was too young, had to pay 6 grands worth of fees, every excuse and measure, and rule book was thrown in my face. So I wrote to the council, I wrote to the education secretary, I got my place on my course and ended up at University just a year later than I should’ve, even more determined to study than I had been before. I didn’t stop there, I went into schools preaching about access courses, the chances they offer, I worked in schools helping as a Volunteer Teaching Assistant, I showed people that you didn’t have to be Einstein to do well, but everyone had a talent.

I’m not perfect, and I am not a saint, please do not think I am trying to preach my own praises, I’m simply saying that, mobility is a something we all take for granted. The right to move, to go where, to do as we please, to have the opportunities we all share, and its something we should always strive for, work for, look for – something we should remember and cherish.