Reflecting on 24 birthdays | Deep Dive

It’s been a weird year. We started with an Australian wildfire, then the internet was taken by storm at the idea of WWIII. Before long a pandemic was declared, and Black Lives Matters protestors took the fight for racial equality to the streets. Who’d have expected all of this to happen in not-even-12-months?

It all makes you wonder: has 2020 really happened? Or am I still at my Gatsby-themed New Year’s party at the end of 2019? What more is there to take the world by storm in the remaining two months?

Meanwhile, I turn 24-years-old in two days. Not every one of my years have been privy to such world-changing events. I’ve decided to reflect on my whole life up to this point, narrowing the scope down a highlight, a change, and something to be excited for.

One huge highlight

It’s a very privileged thing to say one highlight is getting rejecting from the University of Oxford in 2015. I’d wanted to go to Oxford ever since my English Teacher planted the idea in my head as early as 13-years-old. Getting rejected led to pursuing a place at the University of Birmingham, and eventually to teacher training.

Getting rejected meant that I met some of my closest friends and met my partner. It would have been exceptionally interesting to see what would have been different if I had got into Oxford, but I’m very happy with how everything has turned out so far.

One thing to change

When looking back, most people probably regret sticking with an ex-partner who they no longer speak to, or that they stayed in a dead-end job for too long. Fortunately, I am not one of these people. While I’e certainly made questionable decisions about romantic partners (haven’t we all?), the amount I’ve learned from past relationships outweighs the regrets by far.

Instead, the change I’d make would be to a choice made on the cusp of my 17th birthday, at the end of Year 11. I’d just sat my exams and had received my results, and was locked in to study English Language and Literature, History, Psychology and Media Studies at AS-Level. Being an Oxford hopeful, I made the mistake of changing Media Studies for Biology, thinking that they’d rather see a science on my application.

If I could offer advice to any of my students reading my blog, it’s this: never do this. Study a subject because you are genuinely passionate about it, like I was with Media Studies, and not because you reckon a University that you might get into would appreciate it. Anyway, I got a B in Biology, which was fine, but I dropped it going into Year 13 – so what difference did it really make? If I could rewrite time, I’d study Media Studies over Biology in a heartbeat.

One reason to be excited

If you’ve been following my Initial Teacher Training series, this one will be obvious. I am over-the-moon excited to continue my first year as a qualified teacher. It’s nerve-wracking, for sure, adapting to the challenges of COVID in the classroom, but I can’t help but love History. I love making others love the subject too.

It’s even better this year than the last because, finally, I’m in the big wide world of teaching. There will be no experienced teachers in the back of the room, hanging on my every word; the classes will truly be my own. I will be responsible for ensuring that my students receive the best education possible. This challenge is mine, and mine alone, to rise up to, and I can’t wait.

Bring it on.


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