I grew up hearing teachers and tutors training their students for adulthood; showcasing the available careers and wise decisions in the market. At home, my parents would push me towards my passions and perfecting my skills in what brought me joy – I was never questioned about my future career. My job was to be a student, my only responsibilities were within education. We’d spend our holidays in the country, the seaside, or I’d be sent abroad in order to practise a different language, make new acquaintances, and familiarise myself with the local culture.
From the age of fifteen onwards, I saw my fellow students stress about career and life plans. Their only focus was on the path that had been planned on their behalf. The great majority never questioned this path: they’d finish school and apply to medical, law, or business school – because that’s what their parents had done, and that’s what was expected from them. They were never taught to be their own person, and were told that their passions were hobbies, only to be kept if their career went well. Never mind travelling and cherishing their surroundings; these things were to be done once they retired.
When the time came to compare our final exam results, the obvious question was “where are you going now?”. My plan had been clear for a few years at that point: I was going to move and see what happens. The “see what happens” seemed to strike everyone as a terrible idea. It was not part of the plan, and something must have gone wrong for me to make this decision. Were my exam results really that bad? The truth is that I could have applied to the course of my interest, had I stayed around. I would most likely have been offered a place and proceed to spend a few more years in that institution, finding a job during my last year, and spending the following years of my life too busy to find myself.
To find myself. Sounds like a poor excuse for being idle. At school we were required to read and study the curriculum with little or no time to add some more titles and topics. My father presented me books that would help me in the future, but at the time I was too immature to understand their essence. It was by breaking that pre-planned path that I finally had time to read what I wanted, study that I wanted, and travel in the right direction in order to experience in first hand the land that I only knew from pages. I’ve found myself crying for the sick child, being deceived by Don Juan, laying with the daffodils, dreaming on St Agnes’s Eve, weeping for the little boy lost, dealing with death through a nightingale, and having my values assured by Queen Mab, while doing my best to avoid any person from Porlock.
It may have been a longer path to take, and it may have caused more struggle than a secured pre-planned life, but I didn’t want to wait to cherish the only life I have. I don’t see why someone would put a price on their health and sanity, only to have their soul taken from them before being able to enjoy what’s otherwise so easily accessible. The major fault I see in education is that people are not taught to think as individuals, so they end up too scared to make their own plans. Education shouldn’t be expected to come solemnly from an institution, and I am grateful for parents who have only expected me to be happy.