Things I didn’t learn in school


This is the long, slow pause between terms.  Once full of harvest, now the days between the end of one school year and another stretch and bend, unshaped.  I am still working full-time but without the edges of school commitments that work is different daily and the lack of pattern unsettles me.

This time of year reminds me of my own schooling, the milestones of examinations ended, of the impending next step of the autumn term.  I went to a grammar school.  It’s  a system in this part of England of state “selective”  education.  I’m still in the process of healing that time in my life, seven years of vital psychological and emotional development locked into a pressure-cooker of academic achievement left a mark and some unhelpful patterns.  While I often think about those years and the way in which they shaped me, I am less inclined to reflect on what I have learned since or what I learned which was helpful.  This is what I’ve got so far…

1. The most useful thing you will learn in school is that touch-typing course you took in the lower sixth.

2. You can work for twenty-six years on a factory packing line and be happy.

3. In five years no-one will be interested in your A Level results. In ten years no-one will be interested in your degree class.

4. You know most of the things you need already, in your bones and blood, listen for them, they will steer you true.

5. Knowledge is not the same as power.

6. Your life is a growing and a gift not a program or schedule, feel into that.

7. You are absolutely and unequivocally unique.  This is a given, encoded in your DNA. Stop trying to be someone else.

8. After years of fault-finding in feedback and in self-evaluation you will need to say something kind to yourself everyday.  And mean it.

9. There is more than one way to live a life, question everything you thought you knew.

10. Nothing you do will prepare you for your actual life.  It will happen around you in ways you couldn’t imagine.  Learn to ride it, to flow with it, to breathe through it, thirty years of planning won’t stop the unexpected…

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