The Tab and a Path

I was delighted this week to give an interview to The Tab, the student paper, for my old university, UEA (there’s a writing competition to go with it, too). One of the questions related to what I studied and how that helped me on ‘my path to success’. Pretty circuitously, was my first thought. 

 Having done some soul-searching at A Level, I’d decided to abandon my first love, English in favour of studying something more career-oriented at university. Or so I thought, thus proving the downside of those head versus heart decisions. The head may give you cool, sensible advice, but without the heart’s commitment and passion some of those decisions can ultimately leave you unfulfilled and wondering about what might have been. All the ‘proper job’ years might have been mentally engaging, but my creative writing ambitions gnawed away at me the whole time.

Coincidentally - and as a ‘brain rinse’ from writing – I read Rachel Hore’s lovely novel, The Dream House this week, which took me to places I know and remember in Norfolk. There’s a reference too, to the mystic, Julian of Norwich, and one of her best known phrases, ‘all shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well’. The path we follow may take us on some interesting diversions, but they make us who we are. And whilst I might not have chosen some of my diversions, hopefully, my own winding path has given me more to write about!

Here’s me then after my Congregation Ceremony with the two people who made it possible, my parents. You wouldn’t know it to look at them, but they’d just had one of the most traumatic years of their life and yet they’re smiling and looking so proud. Mum and Dad went on to triumphantly rebuild their life after a blow which would have flattened most people. And me, I finally followed my heart.


Jane Lovering said…
What a lovely picture, Chris, they look so proud of you! I'm constantly telling my kids that they can study whatever they like at Uni, it doesn't mean that they're tied to that for life - just as they can change jobs whenever they want. Thank you for reminding me that living life is what is important, not what qualifications we live with!
Pondside said…
Beautiful picture, Chris.
Like you, I followed my head instead of my heart, studied something I thought would be useful at a place that made sense (instead of where I'd planned) and wasted all those years, coming away with a degree I never really used and no memories of happy university days. I told my children to use their university years more wisely and to do/go where they pleased. And they did.
Lins' lleisio said…
I love the picture... It's beautiful. I didn't end up teaching after my BEd, (well adults later), but it was the journey it took me on which ended up being my biggest 'education'; an amazing experience and development of further life and social skills. Invaluable. Well done to your parents too xxx
Frances said…
Chris, this post and the photos summon up so many thoughts and memories that I'd love to share with you and Tom when next we meet.

How i do hope it might be this year. And if it is not this year. Well, Chris, we'be got quite a few years left.

Meanwhile congrats on having your school recognize you! xo
Flowerpot said…
Oh what a lovely post, Chris! I agree about circuitous routes in life. Mine goes in all kinds of unexpected directions!
Lovely picture - they positively ooze pride. I'm still wondering what I'm supposed to be doing after 39 years 6 months as an uncivil civil servant - hey ho
Deborah Carr said…
What a lovely picture of you with your proud parents.

I used to worry that I might be on the wrong path to the one I should be following, but not believe that we are where we're supposed to be for whatever reason. (That sounds completely baffling and odd).
Fascinating how your passions will out, however sensible you try to be! Great photo.
Chris Stovell said…
Thanks, Jane - it sounds as if you're making it easier for your children not to worry about choosing the 'wrong' path. If only we realised sooner that it all sorts itself out in the end!

Thank you Pondside, for sharing your experience. I think that the 'Glittering Prize' aspect of university can make it difficult to say, 'well, I wish I'd studied something I enjoyed more' so it's been great to read other people's thoughts.

Lins, yes, that's it, isn't it? I'd probably do the same again in the same circumstances, because, like you, that experience has made me the person I am today.
Chris Stovell said…
Sue, since I've had the privilege of 'knowing' you through our blogs, your life has certainly seem some changes - I look forwards to see where it takes you next!

SBS, how lovely to see you, you uncivil servant you! Hope all is well with you... usual whirlwind?

Thanks Debs, Yes, it's all too short to do too much fluff-picking about the wrong path, let's just get on with it!

Thanks, Elizabeth, yes, it is! Except when you're young you over think it!

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