I’ve been enjoying reading all these #NoWrongPath tweets from today’s trending stories on Twitter. For those unaware what it is/was, with today being the results day for Scottish students, people have been tweeting their own career paths to show how they got to, well, where they got to.
It’s reassuring and encouraging to read others have had similar long and winding career trajectories, and also that they aren’t ashamed to show them off; some dead ends, some wrong turns, some flat tyres, but ultimately getting somewhere close to where you’d hoped.
Mine’s just as complicated.
In 2002 I dropped out of school (left before I was pushed, if I’m honest) halfway through A levels. I haven’t looked at my AS results since the day they were posted, but I will never forget how embarrassing they were. I had let myself down, sure, but the truth of it was that my heart just wasn’t in education any longer. I wasn’t a bad pupil, nor was I a lost cause; I just didn’t care about what I was being taught. Maybe that sounds harsh… I didn’t have an interest in learning things I didn’t think were going to be in my future. Which, in retrospect, I was about 75% right, but it’s a peculiar way of thinking, considering I had no idea where I was going, or what I could do. I just knew that education wasn’t it.
So, I went to work. Car garage assistant, sport shop assistant, few other bits and bobs. Getting a weekly pay check was far more agreeable than books and tests, even though the majority of it ended up being spent on pre-gig cocktail pitchers in Wetherspoons, following hairy, loud Scottish bands playing across the UK, and far too much coloured vinyl. I didn’t care, I was having a blast.
Fast forward a few years to 2005, and I move out of home and up to Glasgow. I went straight into call centre work, and eventually office admin. Then a recession-forced redundancy was chucked at me in 2010, and for the first time in a few years, I was back in the “what am I supposed to do now?” mindset. Even at 25, I still wasn’t really sure where I was going, or what I could do. I had no new qualifications, and only a minor skillset around office work, neither of which were going to butter any parsnips in a recession, with thousands of others also looking for jobs.
But I did have a hobby.
I was blogging on a weekly basis, and was enjoying it. After months of getting nowhere, I switched from looking for office work to looking for writing gigs, and before long was being paid for it.
Around this time, a friend made me aware of a university course that was starting up that they thought would interest me. Sports Journalism. Interesting.. I thought, I was writing about sport, just in a blogging sense, the leap up to journalism didn’t seem that steep.
I completed a part time ‘Access to Higher Education’ course in 2011, and started back as a student later that year. Nine years after swearing education was worthless, or that my experience of it was worthless, I was back in that saddle.
And that was the lightbulb-above-head moment; I gradually knew where I was going, and what I could do.
I graduated with 1st class honours in 2015. Can you believe it? The same kid who flopped and dropped in 2002 was back and completing education on a high, and all it took was a break-up of over a decade, and a subject/career path I could sink my teeth into.
It’s now 2019, and I have a job title that isn’t embarrassing to announce, and a career path far clearer than it was a decade ago, and I’m only just getting started.
So, as Douglas Adams once wrote: