My Journey

My academic journey hasn’t been the smoothest of rides.

I thought I’d give you a bit of history today, my history and my memories. This is going to be on a topic that I like to talk about the most because it really has affected my life and no matter how many times people have heard the story, I can’t let it go, it’s apart of my history and it always will be.

I’ve never been academically intelligent. I was brought up with parents who are quite intelligent, especially with regards to life, they just don’t have the paper to prove it. I was also brought up with a sister who was and has always been intelligent. She’s never had any trouble in school in achieving average and above average grades. My family encouraged education, and they have always wanted both my sister and me to achieve so we can have the best chance at life. Well life wasn’t all that plain sailing for me.

I struggled, a lot, which my parents often blamed upon my birthday. I am born in August and statistically, August babies have a tougher time in school because of the rest of their class being basically a year older than them. I never worried about it as a kid, I was good, I did my work, and I turned up to school everyday and so I was doing everything a good kid should do. However, naturally my parents and my teachers were concerned with my lack of progress.

Now many people think that children don’t know anything, that they are clueless and this is where they are wrong. I may have not been too concerned about my progress as a child, but even as a kid you know when people are worried about you, you know when they are giving you special attention because you just can’t do it. I didn’t like people worrying about me, if I wasn’t worried then why were they? I knew why they were worried, but I didn’t want them too, because I was good, and I tried, what more did they want from me?

To give you an idea of my lack of intelligence then I’ll put it in perspective for you. It started young, I couldn’t speak at the age of 3, I had to go back to basics in reading when I was 7 because I couldn’t read, when I was 9 I was two years behind in maths, when I was 10 I still couldn’t tell the time, and for nearly every lesson from reception to year 6 in my school life I was that kid to be dragged out of class to have “special sessions” with the teaching assistant.

Kids aren’t dumb, I may not have been academically smart, but it wasn’t hard to tell that I was different, and not the good kind. I worked hard, I listened, I did everything that every child did yet I didn’t understand the things that everyone else found so simple. It wasn’t fair, I hadn’t done anything wrong, why me? That’s all I ever wondered was why me? Especially as I had a sister who had no problems with anything, why couldn’t I be like that?! I was being compared to my sister and my parents were so proud of her because she achieved, and I had to compete with that. I couldn’t do it, and instead of getting pride, I received sympathy, and I hated that so much, so please I am not telling you this because I want sympathy, I just want to write about my journey.

I was good at other things, but they were useless things, at least in the eyes of my parents and the school since they wouldn’t help me in the future. Now don’t get me wrong, my teachers and my parents were very supportive and loving through my school life and they never discouraged what I was good at, they just knew at the same time I needed to understand this academic stuff otherwise I wouldn’t have a future.

I was good at sport and drama, and whenever I talked about the future with my parents I would mention these things because that’s what I was good at, but a job in those fields was difficult and therefore seen as unrealistic for me to achieve by my parents so they didn’t encourage it. They would say things like “you can try sweetie, just don’t be disheartened because it is difficult to do and it is rather unlikely.” Don’t worry guys, you already disheartened me. Now again I don’t want to blame my parents for anything, they were good to me and have always been, and they were just doing what they thought was right and I respect that. My sister wanted to be a history teacher, and she is still working towards that goal today, naturally my parents encouraged that, but me, I never had a dream, and have always therefore found it hard to understand people who have dreams, especially dreams that I deem unrealistic. I admire them at the same time though, because they are able to do what I couldn’t.

I spent a lot of time working as a kid, basically because I didn’t have a choice. I had to understand this work and I had to keep up with the other children. All I wanted to do was play and run, I  could do that, not this maths homework that everyone else had finished hours ago and I was still doing. I had a lot of friends though when I was kid, I was good at sport and I was kind to everyone so it was easy for me to be friends with everyone. However, being friends with everyone meant that you would be the person they ask questions to, and obviously I never knew the answer. The reply “I don’t know” became an automatic response because it was the truth, I never knew. So I made myself a promise at the end of year 6, that I would be smarter when I went to secondary school, that I would know the answers from now on, and that I will be like everyone else.

Secondary school came along and yeah, I became smarter. I was finally achieving like everyone else, I struggled at some points during my time there, especially during A-level, but overall I had done what I’d promised myself, I’d become smarter. Yet the fear of failing was always lurking around the corner like a ghost, I spent my time constantly worried that I’d go back to the way I was and being behind again, and the future was getting closer and closer. Yes, now I had to actually be truly concerned about my future for the first time. Choosing GCSE’s, A-levels and university course, it was all very stressful, but here I am.

The past has left a scar on me for the rest of my life. I went through so much that no kid should have to go through, because you cant expect a child to go through that without repercussions. I spent a lot of time feeling worried, sad, angry and above all stressed and nothing can change that. Many adults don’t understand how a child can feel stressed, especially at such a young age, but when you put someone though that much pressure, it doesn’t matter what age they are, they’ll feel some sort of stress. It’s ok though because without it I wouldn’t be where I am today, and that’s why I’m writing this.

The other day I achieved a 1st grade at university, which is an A grade. I actually achieved this twice in one day, on two separate papers. These grades are amazing and obviously I’m very excited about my progress, but whenever I do well my thoughts naturally go to my past. If you had told my teachers and my parents when I was younger that one day, I was going to be a university student, studying philosophy and religion and achieving A grades, they probably would have said something similar to what they told me then: “you can try sweetie, just don’t be disheartened because it is difficult to do and it is rather unlikely.”

The reason I’m telling you this, or more the reason that I’m writing this, is because I got myself to where I am today. I am grateful for my teachers and parents help, but I was the one who worked harder than any other kid and I was the one trying to make it all worth while, and I did it.

I want you guys to believe in yourselves, to work for yourselves, and to achieve what you want to achieve no matter what it is, because only you know what you can do. I’ve come a long way and I’ve taken some damage along the way, but its ok because I did it. I’m going into the future doing what I want and working for what I want because even when it looked so unlikely that this would ever happen to me, I did it. This is my journey, make yours just as worth while.

Alice x