Today’s picture is of the setting sun beneath very dark storm clouds.
The image reminded me of the old saying ‘every cloud has a silver lining’. It’s a saying that I have found useful throughout my life, reminding me that when things are tough, if you look hard enough, you’ll find a positive. This positive may not be apparent straight away, as in the case of my career choice when I left school
I grew up in a home devoid of books. My father had dyslexia, my parents were poor and they worked hard and long hours to keep a roof over our head and food on the table. This meant I was left to complete homework pretty much on my own.
Well, it didn’t take long to decide between the choice of doing my homework or go to the park with my friends, and it wasn’t until I was almost 14 when I decided what I wanted to do with my life through an amazing teacher, and I actually started to study.
I took my ‘O’ levels as they were back then, and applied for some jobs after leaving school. I surprisingly got 4 offers of jobs / apprenticeships, BUT, 3 offers were subject to me getting 4 O’Levels, and 1 was unconditional.
Being low in confidence, and needing to make a decision prior to knowing my grade announcements, I rejected the job I really wanted (a trainee computer programmer for British Gas in Bath), and plumbed for the safe option of the unconditional offer with GEC Telecoms. (Ironically I scraped through my exams so could have had any)
The GEC role was a 5 year commitment to them. The first year being at college (KCFE) in Kingston Upon Thames full time, followed by 3 more years of 6 weeks at college (in KCFE) and 6 weeks in the field (Commissioning new electronic telephone exchanges).
So, at the age of 16, I left for college, and lived in a shared room with 2 other students from my course. It took less than 30 minutes for the chaps I shared with to give me the nickname ‘Farm’ as they struggled to understand my west country accent. Today, it might be labelled as bullying, and I did struggle for the first few weeks to settle into the new regime, but I stuck it out.
I often reflect back on how different my life and personality would have been had I not left home at 16, instead of living at home. Although it was tough, living out of a suitcase for 5 years, being with a whole range of different people (some of which I really disliked), working around different parts of the country, I experienced much more than I ever would have had I stayed at home, and I’m now sure it was the best option.
Surviving those experiences, some unpleasant, gave me confidence to move through my subsequent careers and life, exposed me to and taught me how to build relationships with a huge range of people, which has been so important in my life.
When I ponder ‘what if’ as I approach my sunset, I do so with a smile, because I am content and happy. There will always be storm clouds in our lives, but ride it out, be strong and look for the positives.