Saturday, 12 November 2016

How Time Flies...

How time flies. Yesterday afternoon, as a teaching assistant I sat amongst an excitable class of Year 7's all fidgeting in their seats, eager to start their weekend and I had the sudden realization that it was exactly half my lifetime ago now that I was sat in their very position. Being 11 years old for me was 11 years ago - how could I possibly have lived on this earth a whole extra 11 year lifetime before they were even born? This initially made me think wow, how different my first 11 years were to theirs. A lot of the things that shaped my childhood, they may not even know existed. Their childhood didn't involve memorising the entire theme-tune to Fresh Prince of Bel Air - it ended almost 10 years before they were born. Friends had finished it's glorious 10 year run before they were wearing nappies too. Do they even know what Rugrats is? Busted had formed - released a whole host of hits to please my young ears and disbanded before many of them even entered the world. Teenage Dirtbag means nothing to them whilst, it still means so much to me. They didn't avidly watch Kenan and Kel when they got home from primary school; not even Drake and Josh, who knows the equivalent now? 

I grew up listening to Backstreet Boys and Five, could One Direction be their first taste of a boyband? In 2005 my favourite band were My Chemical Romance but they split 3 years ago now; they are unlikely to have the same impact on any member of this class that they had on an 11 year old me. Daniel Radcliffe's Harry Potter had only just entered his fourth year at Hogwarts back in 2005; with four more movies still to film and yet now they have been over for 5 years. These kids were 4 years too late to see a little Harry Potter sorted in to Gryffindor and did not experience the same moment that a 7 year old me fell head over heels in love with one flame-haired Ronald Weasley; with my crush on Rupert Grint still remaining very much the same to this day. Maybe their first crush was Justin Bieber; I shudder at the thought. If it was Harry Styles I'll let them off but let's be honest, he's no Weasley is he?

An 11 year old me on a family holiday to Malta in July 2005.

11 years later at 22 celebrating my brother's wedding in August 2016 with a fabulous sister-in-law I never knew 11 years ago and two fantastic nephews whom 11 years ago would not have even had an ounce of planning in my sister's 17 year old mind.

I currently own a very temperamental Nokia Lumia 520 whilst the 11 year old boy beside me laughs; his first phone is an iPhone 6s and his plans for the weekend are to play a £50 game on his PS4 whilst, at 11 I still played the odd game of Sonic the Hedgehog on a Sega games console which now sells on ebay for less than just one of his PS4 games cost. I am a Liverpool fan and these year 7's were born in the year we last won the Champions League - just a tiny baby they were, perhaps still growing inside their Mum's belly and yet I still remember the sheer devastation and sudden elation my 11 year old self felt watching the horror and miraculous amazement of that game as though it were yesterday - tears of anguish and sorrow followed by happiness and joy pouring down my 11 year old cheeks - whilst they have no memory of the day of May 25th 2005 at all.

A 4 year old me with my big sister Pepsi, 10 and big brother Aston, 8 way back in 1998, how time flies... 18 years later and just two weeks ago with my brother and sister on my sister's gorgeous wedding day in October 2016.

Monsters, Inc. came out before they were even born. Lilo & Stitch, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles too. They were just 1 year old when Cars came out and 4 when Up hit our cinema screens. Really? Up? It's 7 years old? Toy Story came out the year I was born; 11 years before they even entered the world and they were just 5 years old when out came Toy Story 3 whilst, I had been patiently waiting 11 years to see it and yes, even at 16 years of age the 5 year old that had adored Toy Story 2 awoke inside of me as eager as any of their 5 year old selves to finally watch the long awaited next installment.

These thoughts crossed my mind but, it was the confirmation of how much changes and how much can be achieved in just the space of 11 years that really hit me. Here they were now; at 11 years of age - growing up from a tiny baby to a young person with a mind full of ideas; wonder and knowledge that they would not have had 11 years ago; in secondary school and embarking on the next 11 years of their life - 11 exciting; difficult and unknown years that I myself have already completed. This made me slightly sad in one respect - had the 11 years that followed me being 11 been fulfilled enough? Had I made them memorable? Had I achieved the things that my 11 year old self wanted to? Maybe some things but, certainly not all. At 22 years old I hope there's still plenty of time though. I'll keep my fingers crossed that many more 11 years will kindly pass by me before I reach the end of my days.

My last 11 years have been busy to say the least and full of academia more than anything else. Where these Year 7's little blossoming minds sit longing for the weekend and to charge from the confinement of their classroom walls at the sound of the end of school bell; they still have at least 7 years remaining until they can leave these classrooms behind them for good whereas, my time in education has just this year come to its close as I handed in that daunting dissertation with it's grueling data analysis and skipped merrily out of the classroom door, never to return again. Possibly. That's the thing, whilst during my days at secondary school (writing this sentence makes me feel as though I am 100) I longed for the day that it would finish; no sooner had it ended had I wished that I could go straight back. The ease and simplicity of it; the familiarity of the 5 years I spent there made it comfortable and even now I miss it - miss giggling at the back of the class with friends; competing in a netball match against the local rival school (where I now incidentally work. How times change, ay?) and whipping up my first ever recipes in cookery lessons where I ignited my passion for food; with the creation of new recipes now becoming my favourite thing in the world to do. And just as I did when leaving school at 16; having just finished University I now miss that too. Even with all it's deadlines; referencing and reading enough journals to fry my brain - I miss it as real life honestly and truly is; and I don't think I can avoid sounding like a big baby when I say this; hard. It's damn right hard.

Completing the 150 page food product development portfolio with 35,000 words that I did back in April certainly seems a lifetime away from the 11 year old who today exclaims that he is exhausted - "I've written like 50 words in this English lesson and I've used loads of adjectives". He is quite right and they are some very impressive describing words so I think that warrants him the mini break he has allowed himself but, once again this reminds me of the stark difference in the education we complete in the 11 or so years that follow. I have now finished with GCSEs; got those A Levels out the way and obtained my degree in Home Economics but, just as I did when I was 11, I still remain to know where I really want to be in another 11 years time. I want to travel more. Fall in love. Start a family. Buy a home. It doesn't all have to be within the next 11 years but, I wan't to do those things. More than anything though I want to find my career. After spending 17 years in education, I really want to find my career. A career that makes me happy. A career that I don't have to drag myself from bed every morning to go to; I want to swing back the covers with excitement and anticipation for the working day ahead and although, I know many people don't ever get that, I want it. I really want it.

What career do I hope to have though? I am 22, not 11, shouldn't I know this by now? Possibly. Probably. My dream is to begin a food business and right now the fizzle of an idea in my head starts very small and with very little sound logic and virtually non-existant monetary support behind it to ensure its success but, it is a start and something I am passionate about so shouldn't I give it a go? Shouldn't I explore this idea further? Nothing makes me happier than donning my Cath Kidston apron as I fold a stream of melted decadent dark chocolate in to my batch of brownies or lather a layer of sweet buttercream upon a towering tier of cake and I don't think it ever will. 

I love writing too and part of me bursts with excitement every time I read the description to the Bath Spa Creative Writing masters and to earn a place on that course would be a dream come true but, once again I wonder; would I ever be good enough? Is my writing good enough for them to accept me? I am currently writing a children's fantasy novel which brings a beaming smile to my face every time I settle down to write it because whether or not anyone else thinks that it is good - I just love writing it and I rush with excitement to spill my thoughts out on to its every page. So, once again don't I owe it to myself to try and see if I am a good enough writer to potentially pursue it as a career? 

I am a born worrier. A born panicker. A nervous wreck. I have social anxiety and whilst my mind regularly fills with potential business ventures which aren't all vastly unachievable; never going to happen; get your head out of the clouds Courtney ideas; I never have the confidence to pursue any of them. I never have the confidence to go out in to the world and to meet people and to see whether my dreams could become a reality. In all honesty though, those are the two things that interest me; that captivate me and set my heart aflutter. I love food and cooking and I love writing so, shouldn't those areas be where I look to make a career? I am not 11 anymore; I am not 5 years off taking my GCSEs; I do not have my A Levels ahead of me; I do not have my degree subject to select. I have completed all of those milestones that this Year 7 class still have ahead of them. There is no longer time to delay. I am 22 years old and I can no longer sit around waiting for my life to begin; I have to make things happen on my own - not tomorrow but, today.

So, I will write - scribble furiously on to my notepad - type racingly on to my key pad and maybe I will be good enough to attain a place on a creative writing masters. Maybe, then I could secure an internship as a writer at a food magazine. Wouldn't that be amazing? And I will cook too - enough meals to make people's mouths water; eyes glisten and burst the buckles on their belts. Why wouldn't people pay for my food? Why can't I be good enough? It is time to stop waiting; planning and never quite doing. It is time to stop thinking I am not good enough - I will never be good enough and to instead start trying because maybe I am - maybe my writing is - maybe my cooking is - just quite good enough. Then maybe in another 11 years time when my name accompanies its first article in delicious magazine; or graces the front page of its first novel; or adorns the side of a box of moreish brownies I'll look back and say; my what a fantastic 11 years its been... how time flies.

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