The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.
The second best time is now.
I’m in a “I wish I’d done this when I was younger” and “I should have made different choices” mood at the moment. I think it’s because it’s September, the ‘new School year’ month. It always seems to bring questions to mind about life and career and opportunity. And with it being 20 (TWENTY!!!!) years this week since I started my GCSEs, I think those questions and thoughts are even more poignant.
I love my life, I have so much going for me right now it’s awesome (did you see my post about the road trip LincsGeek and I are planning?!). I’m just feeling contemplative. Wondering what might have been if I had made different choices as a teenager. For example, what career would I be doing now if I had chosen science over the arts? Would I have been presenting Big Blue Live last week if I had actually become a Blue Peter presenter? Would I be a famous trombone player with my own CDs if I had practised every day?
Back in 1995 I made important choices that have shaped my life since then. Those choices were around which subjects I liked and which I didn’t, which I was naturally good at and which took more effort. I made the decision to concentrate a little bit more on my music GCSE than my science ones. I don’t regret that. Music is a massive part of my life and I am a better person because of it. Later I chose not to make a career from my music, but instead took what I learnt about teamwork, creativity and communication with an audience to head into marketing. 20 years on I spend my working days trying to encourage other people to make particular choices about their education and future. And I spend my non-working hours occupied with the biggest bucket list ever to be written (have a look at my bucket list) and sharing it on my blog. I might never know what it is like to be a Marine Biologist or Blue Peter Presenter, but I don’t regret the choices I did make.
My form – 10Z – in May 1996, my last day at Barton Court Grammar School in Canterbury before we moved house and I started a new School.
I guess I am feeling a little bit old. 20 years ago when I was 14 and putting on my blue grammar school sweater for the first time I thought 34 was really old. Well not ancient or anything, but rather like all those who were 34 were really sensible adults who had everything they wanted. I don’t feel like a “solid adult”. I can’t quite work out how I got to 34 already. I was only starting my GCSEs yesterday! I’ve done loads and have loads, oh yes, but time seems to have gone so fast. I don’t even know where most of the bunch of people in the photo above area these days. We moved house often and without facebook in the olden days it was difficult to keep in touch with everyone. I should look them all up and say hi. I was always warned that time speeds up as we get older, and it really does feel like that. I look around me and see those younger than me becoming experts, reaching the top of their profession, and it would be very easy for me to think that my time has passed and it’s too late. But I know that’s not true, the fat lady hasn’t yet made an appearance and life is wonderful. I am excited for the next 20 years!
I opened this post with that Chinese proverb (more of my favourite quotes here) because there is one thing I, and you, must remember when asking questions of ourselves this new term. If there is something you really want to do, that you wish you had started 20 years ago, it is not too late to start now. If you have an ambition the only way you are going to achieve it is by working towards it. If you believe the choices you made back then were the wrong ones, or you fancy a new path, then there are ways to change direction. There is nothing wrong with starting something new at the age of 34. Or 54. Or 74. Age is just a number, after all.
I’m off out to plant a tree.
PS: If the producers of Big Blue Live are reading this (!), I’m definitely up for replacing Matt Baker next time around. Get in touch!!! (Seriously!)