Big daughter is starting work on her GCSEs this year. I’ve got no idea where this grown up daughter has come from when it doesn’t seem like only yesterday she was in her pram, but here she is, Year 10 (4th year in high school for those of us who’ve never quite got to grips with the new system) and she’s ready for the challenge.
One of the things our family like to do is sit down together for brunch on a Sunday morning after Church has finished. It’s become one of the few times in the week when we all get chance to talk before rushing off to walk the dog, do homework, tidy the house or catch up on work that didn’t get done during the week. Big daughter has been using the time recently to think about what she wants to do in the future.
“I did want to be a teacher but I’ve changed my mind,” she said, the other day. “I don’t know what I want to do instead though.” I think one of the hardest things we ask our young people to do (and I remember this very clearly from my own time at school) is to think about how we want to spend the rest of our lives when we’re hardly old enough to know what the world has to offer. “Keep your options open,” is the best advice we’ve been able to offer her. “Listen to what’s going on around you, take note of what’s happening in the world and concentrate on getting grades in a good range of subjects.”
It’s too easy to pigeonhole yourself at a young age as ‘a teacher’ or ‘a fireman’ or ‘something in computers’ and often that makes it difficult to change your mind later, either because you’ve wanted to do something for so long that you can’t break free, or because other people have pigeonholed you as well by then and won’t let you change.
In our house, we have two ends of the spectrum. My husband discovered early on what he wanted to do and now, over twenty years later, is still passionate about it and can encourage that passion in other people. I never really knew what I wanted to do and moved from one job to another until finally I discovered just where I wanted to be – at the ripe old age of thirty! And if you’d told me at fourteen what I’d end up doing, I’d have laughed my socks off!
So, big daughter goes to school every morning repeating our mantra to ‘keep your options open’ and if it takes her until she’s thirty to find her dream job, then that’s just how life is. For some people it just takes time and belief that it will work out. As a paralympic athlete said over the summer, “With belief, anything is possible” and I think that’s absolutely true.