One of the most common questions I’m asked is “what do you want to be when you grow up?” something I have been excited and insecure about my whole life.
During primary school all I wanted to be was a teacher, I would go to school, come home and play at being a teacher. I had a little whiteboard and I used to set my teddies work to do;
When I went to high school the dream lived on and I would visit my primary school on inset days to work with the teachers.
By sixth form, I don’t really know what it was – I think insecurity – I didn’t want to teach anymore. The whole thing seemed daunting – being observed teaching and being judged totally put me off.
I still went to university even though I really didn’t want to – I was terrified. I applied for nursing and midwifery but got rejected straight away, so I used my last slot to apply for Education and Early Childhood Studies which I got accepted onto straight away.
University was amazing at the beginning, from somewhere I found some confidence and I had so much fun living in halls with my flatmates. But then the dark cloud that is depression got too much and I ended up isolating myself again. From then on university got very hard, anxiety attacks made attending lectures very difficult and having to do placements and presentations made my anxiety rocket leading me to very dark places.
I did it, I got through and managed somehow to get a 2:1. So what now? Did I want to teach? Secretly it was still a dream but there was no way my mental health could cope with the pressures of a PGCE and the confidence to go out on placement was totally lacking.
Again and again I trawled through the jobs website, writing applications to work in schools and chickening out at the last minute. I just couldn’t go through with it.
I then decided I would do a PGCE PCET which is to teach in post compulsory education such as college etc. I got onto the course, all I needed to do was find a placement. But again, the anxiety got the better of me.
The next academic year I applied to be a midwife again – I decided that was what I wanted to do and I wouldn’t let my anxiety stop me – but again I was rejected straight away. So – it was obviously not meant to be. Looking back I think it was a good thing as I don’t know how I would have coped given my own fertility problems.
So… then I decided to apply for a degree in teaching Welsh at Secondary level. I got my place and was even offered to start in year 2, all I needed to do was get a B in GCSE maths. But of course by the time the exams were coming around my anxiety had peaked and I couldn’t take the exam.
By now, I felt like an absolute failure. I’d tried so many avenues and failed at them all; why was I applying for these things when I couldn’t even go shopping on my own?! I was wasting everybody’s time.
In late 2016 after a very very low time, I applied to volunteer at Samye Foundation Wales – a centre for Mindfulness and Wellbeing. When I got offered an interview I thought, I can do this – they will be understanding. And they were. They understood how nervous I was and did everything they could to make me feel comfortable and confident and a few months later I was doing things I never thought I could. Answering the phone, interviewing people, going on errands alone and being generally happy and confident.
Everyone at the centre gave me such encouragement with publishing my book Mindful Millie and I will never forget their support.
When I look back at all of my “failures” I realise they are not failures at all, but the journey I needed to take to get to where I am.
Had I chosen any of those routes I would never have met the wonderful people at Samye and I would never have published Mindful Millie. Had I not gone to university I wouldn’t have met some of the most wonderful people and gained so much insight into the early years and I would not have been inspired to write a book for young children.
Who knows what I’ll be doing in a few years? But that doesn’t matter now. Lets not focus on the past or the future but the present. Right now I’m growing a baby and that’s my job (I would also love to get Sad Simon published – and I promise I will as soon as I can!)
Love to you all,