Sunday, 23 February 2014

Your past doesn't have to define your future.... or does it?

My teenage years were the Thatcher years. I was from a working class family and my Dad was a public service worker. It is so unjust that people have to fight to work and fight for justice! For me, both these two are essential elements of a civilised society and yet during the 1980s neither were prevalent for hard working families.

Coming from a working class background you almost felt then that you didn’t have a right to dream big.  I was ridiculed when I wanted to be a writer at fifteen. The people I thought was giving me the ‘right’ advice were actually the very people who were holding me back. Wrongly I didn’t follow my dreams back then and in all honesty, didn’t have the confidence to. Why would you? You’re told you will never match up to the privately educated elite and you would be better off getting a steady job in a world where you had to literally fight tooth and nail to earn a decent living. SO I didn’t go to University and I didn’t become a writer. I became an Insurance Broker!!!

I had a decent career but it never filled my life with joy and that had a knock on effect to everything. There was still a piece of me missing and the built in paranoia of somehow I wasn’t good enough to have the best of everything meant I accepted an unworkable and very oppressive marriage. I surrounded myself in people who I thought were my friends. When I had my first child I realised the life that I had built was not me at all! My son gave the courage to stand up to people and I soon realised my marriage was a sham and the so called friends I had, would sooner stab me in the back than look at me. It was a harsh lesson to learn.

I went through a really rough patch when I realised I’d just settled for what I had in life and it was an all-time low for me and was worse than when I found out about Menieres Syndrome.  Funnily enough the illness was a catalyst for me. It was my wake-up call.  I wasn’t going to settle for anything other than me doing what I wanted to do. I wanted to lead by example, show my children that whatever life throws at you, whatever mistakes you make (and you’re human, you do make mistakes), you can regroup and start again.

My greatest fear when the book was published, was not that it wouldn’t sell but people would try to crush my dream AGAIN. Some people tried but this time it wasn’t going to work. My four decades of experience has taught me that there will always be people who want to drag you down and more interestingly, they are the people you least expect to do it. My advice would be to nod, say thank you and listen to the professionals. Don’t let other people’s insecurities put you off your dreams. Eleanor Roosevelt once wrote, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” It is very true and it is something I drill into my boys now.

There are public figures and personalities that help define you as a person. Here are a few of those who influenced me:

  • Nelson Mandela for his power to forgive even the most oppressive of people.
  • Steve Prescott for fighting for others when he had a very personal battle of his own
  • Anne Williams and the families of the Hillsborough victims for their dignity, integrity and determination to take on the establishment and find truth and justice. Anne proved to everyone that a mother’s love is a forced to be reckoned with and my boys know that too.
  • Wesley Charles for his outlook on life, his positivity and for his ability to understand now what I didn’t work out until in my forties!!

I will be openly criticised for including my son in this list but I don’t care because he ‘gets it’!! And I’ve done that and that’s what I am most proud of. I have a son who is humble, has his feet firmly on the ground and is doing everything within his powers to follow his dreams. He will be the best he can be. What more can I ask for?

Some people have too much to say about things they know very little about. Writing is what I want to do and actually I am quite good at it too. Don’t get me wrong I don’t believe I am a genius, I just believe I am trying to do my best for the benefit of my boys. It’s as simple as that. I will give 100% support to anyone who dares to have a go. Go on, whatever it is you want to do, have a go!!

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