What do I want to be when I grow up?

Even though I am 26, I still frequently sit down and ask myself “what do I want to be when I grow up?”. 

I currently work in an office for a fantastic Aerospace company that has amazing opportunities and great prospects. The employees are lovely and the benefits are great. I work four and half days a week, I get off all bank holidays and we even shut down over the Christmas period so I get an extra week automatically added on to my annual leave! I’ve got myself a pretty sweet deal here but can I see myself working there for the rest of my life?

If I’m being completely honest the answer is yes but would I be truly happy…no.

I would work my way up through the company and no doubt have a great pension at the end of it! I’ve been fortunate to work with people who have recently retired from the company after serving 25, 30 and 35 years! Each of them sad to leave their job and the company behind that they devoted all of them years to.

Unfortunately that’s just not me. When I was in my final year of school I decided I wanted to be a journalist. I loved writing! Stories, reports, English was my favorite lesson and I really enjoyed how free I felt when I was doing it. It’s hard to explain but the best way I can is we used to have a two hour English lesson every Thursday leading up to our GCSE’S at school and everyone hated it but me. We would cover Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and Jane Eyre for English Literature. Our teacher was Miss Loftus and she would mesmerise me with hidden meanings behind some of Shakespeare’s finest work.

My favorite though was creative writing. I would be given a two hour window in which to create a story and boy did I! My imagination was powerful, a gift that I had to create a world around me in which I could get lost in. Those two hours gave me a release from the normality of school and into my world of adventure and possibilities. Miss Loftus noticed this and asked if she could send one of my stories off to a competition to win a national prize! I didn’t win the prize but I did realise that writing made me happy and that I was good at it!

So fast forward to open day at school where our career adviser sits us down individually and …..well advises us.

I was so happy, in fact I remember being really excited because I knew in my head what I wanted to do. I wanted to attend Greenhead College in Huddersfield to study English Literature, English Language and Journalism. I marched into my meeting and plonked myself down onto the chair opposite my her and spouted off with no hesitation or breaths between sentences what I wanted to do and where I could see my life going. Sitting proudly with smile on my face I expected a round of applause for being so organised and headstrong but what I got was a dragon lady who obviously didn’t enjoy her job and didn’t know how to act around ambitious teenagers!

She explained to me that Journalism was a very competitive industry to work in and to be taken on at Greenhead I would need outstanding grades. Now I was good at English but I wasn’t a grade A student let alone A* which apparently is all that Greenhead would accept and because so many other children would be applying for the same course I might be better focusing my attention elsewhere. In nicely put words she basically pissed on my bonfire! She was correct, Journalism was a very competitive industry and Greenhead College did only take on the very best but rather than encourage me to follow my passion and work hard to get my grades up she pulled out my heart, wrapped my ambition around it and stuck a knife straight through it.

I was destroyed.

After being told to follow a different career path I chose to study Animal Management. I liked cats and dogs and my friend was going to the same college so it seemed the right thing to do. 

Looking back now at my 16 year old self I wish that I would have had the courage to stare my adviser in the face and say no to following a different career path. I wish I wouldn’t have given up so quickly at the first person who told me I wouldn’t be able to make it. I wish I had believed in myself a bit more that I could work hard and fight to follow my dreams. 

Alas I cannot turn back time. I can however, ten years on, pick up from where I left off which is to fight for what I want to do with my life!

Most of you will be aware from my previous blog posts that I am taking on the challenge of Tough Mudder this year. For the past ten years I have listened to people tell me I’m not good enough and to just get a job and get on with life and with that I became lazy, unhealthy and a slob! I was a binge drinker, I smoked, I lived off takeaways, I never exercised and couldn’t be bothered to try hard at anything. Until now…

Following a friend of mine Jamie Macdonald’s challenges that he did for charity triggered something in my head. I mean this guy cycled 14,000 miles from Bangkok in Thailand to Gloucester in the UK.  He ran 5000 miles across Canada all to raise money for the charities that helped him as a child. He was giving back to society and inspiring people to do the same. 

It was December 2016 that I decided enough was enough! I was 26 years old and not happy with the way I was living my life. I was a slob and I wanted out so I contacted Jamie. I explained to him my situation and that I wanted to do something to raise money for his charity the Superhero Foundation. I told him about Tough Mudder (an extreme running event covering 12 miles and 20 obsticals courses including swimming through an icebath and being electrocuted) and he thought it was a great idea! To make it even harder I also agreed to give up alcohol for an entire year!

So my training started. I gave up the drinking and the smoking and began running, weight lifting and eating healthier. I couldn’t believe how quickly my attitude and my body changed and adapted. I felt stronger, healthier and full of determination and grit. I wanted to succeed at this challenge and I wanted to be a better person!

It was after 6 weeks of not smoking or drinking that I realised how much healthier I was. I could run 5k! That is something I never would have been able to do before. I wouldn’t have had the mindset to even give it a try. I guess what I’m trying to say is Jamie was and still is an inspiration to me. He managed to get me off that sofa and back out into the world. He managed to put that spark back in me to fight for life and not give up. I didn’t want to be that slob anymore wasting away and Jamie inspired me to go after what I want in life no matter how hard it looked or how many people would try and put me down along the way. 

So that is what I want to be when I grow up. I want to be an inspiration to others. I am just one of thousands of people who have stories just like mine and if I could help one person realise their potential to be great then I got the job I wanted!

I hope you have all enjoyed this post and learned a bit more about me and why I am taking on this challenge. I am so proud of myself for starting to write again and will keep you all updated on my journey!

Lots of love

Jess xxx 

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