As a child, my parents sent me to a small independent school. I found it easy to get good marks and was consistently top of my year. Not difficult when there are only 10 other children though! I was also always chosen to be the lead in any shows and was led to believe that I was talented and super intelligent. I was even made Head Girl.
Then, I took my 11 plus and went on to the all girls grammar school. And suddenly, I was just average. There were girls in my year who played the piano, clarinet, flute. I could barely play the recorder! The were girls who excelled in ballet, tap, jazz. I had two left feet. Some girls had university lecturers for parents, others had artists. They excelled in these subjects. I continued to work hard throughout that first year, my eyes on the award of a deportment girdle that rewarded good deportment, engagement in the school and exemplary conduct.
I’d accepted that I could no longer be top of my year, or the lead in any show, but I had this one in the bag. I was a proper goody two shoes, spoke well thanks to my previous school, worked hard and always walked with my head held high. Then I got the shock of my life and didn’t get one. I was dumbfounded. And so began a lifetime of not trying, not making an effort, not wanting the disappointment of unexpected failure. Much easier to know you’ve failed because you didn’t bother.
I sat at school, confident in my new status as distinctly average. Apart from a fleeting moment of adulation by an alcoholic teacher who happened to be directing a school play and described me as the star of the show in the school yearbook, I didn’t stand out at all.
I got through Uni by doing the minimum required and refused to get involved with life there. My dreams of a career as a journalist, gradually ripped to shreds by my peers in class who showed a far greater awareness of the world and understanding of journalistic requirements.
I left Uni and moved to London where I became a secretary. My housemates were all storming their path through the city corporates, earning silly money to boot. This was not the life I had imagined for myself. I was a failure. It was time to accept it. Despite all the promise of my formative years, I was a nobody, a nothing. I muddled along for another 10 years, going from job to job, town to town, searching for a break that would reset my destiny.
That break never came, but I always gave every job my all and was well-liked and respected by my colleagues. After a couple of years in roles that didn’t interest me and showed no reward, I moved to a company that gave me free rein to shape my role. I loved it! I worked with some amazing people and they in turn would gush at my brilliance at understanding the technology, staying calm when the pressure was mounting, and the way that nothing was ever too much trouble. I had found my career home. I was born to be an Executive Assistant. But still I dreamed of greater things.
With the time away from work that maternity leave allows, I had an opportunity to explore my talents, my strengths, my interests. Yet, again and again, I’ve realised that while I know a little about a lot of things, I don’t know a lot about anything, and while I might enjoy a lot of things, I’m not particularly good at anything. I love baking but my cakes generally look a little sorry for themselves. I enjoy cooking but usually serve up slops instead of the beautiful image in the recipe. I’d like to sew but don’t have time to really learn so end up with skewiff stitching. And now I’m blogging, I’ve realised that my writing is also average. There are blogs I read that make me weep at their eloquence.
I hope that continuing to read and write may improve my writing and that someday I will have the confidence to make some waves in the blogosphere. For now, I am just happy to be here, to have the chance to write and express myself in an arena where I can go at my own pace and learn as I go. I see bloggers that make a living from this new art and I hope that practice really does make perfect, and it may one day afford me the luxury of self-employment!