Some 20-ish years ago I was in my final year of secondary school, about to enter the big world – for various reasons I decided against continuing with education beyond GCSE’s, despite good results. In some respects I regret that, in others I don’t. I’ve mentioned previously that I’m currently studying for the RHS Level 2, and in addition I also recently enrolled with the Open University to begin a part-time Science Degree next February (that will start just after the RHS exams, so I won’t be doing both simultaneously – assuming I pass those!). I’m officially a mature student!
Yesterday evening, my wife sent me this;
Can you tell which one of us is a social media junkie? (hint: it’s not me!). Now, I’m not 40 yet (though that is approaching much faster than I’d like!), but I was immediately transported back to my final year of secondary school.
During that year, a song was released that stuck with me for a long time. Called ‘Everybody’s Free (to wear Sunscreen)’ it has been re-released and remixed a number of times in the years since.
The lyrics to that song are full of advice, and as you get older you being to realise just how true so much of it is. However, it was this particular part that I was reminded of;
“Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life…
the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives
some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t”
At 16, I knew what I wanted to do with my life. At 30, I still did. Today, as I approach the age of 40 at a rapid pace, I really have no idea any more. Well, that’s not strictly true. I know I don’t want to spend any longer doing the job I’ve done all my working life. I know I want to be outside working among plants and soil. The truth however is that beyond that, I don’t really know.
In an ideal world, I’ve love to spend all my time at the allotment, but as nice as that would be, it doesn’t pay the bills. I’d like to explore plant breeding – particularly fruits and vegetables, and while there’s nothing stopping me from doing that (indeed, that will form the basis of my degree), again it’s difficult to identify a route whereby that could be a ‘career’.
It would appear however that I’m not alone in this regard. Horticulture especially seems to be full of ‘mature’ students that are changing careers at around the same age as me, if not a little older. Most, if the forums are anything to go by, have been in the same career as myself. Stuck behind a computer for 20+ years and now wanting the polar opposite out of life. Most, again, know they want to work in the great outdoors, but have no predefined ideas beyond that.
Over the past two decades I’ve experienced numerous highs and lows – extremes at both ends. Many of the extreme highs were ‘accidental’. The most successful period of my career happened pretty much by accident, simply because I tried something ‘different’ and it paid off. As I sit and contemplate the lows, many of them were a result of trying too hard – but trying to do the wrong thing. Sometimes, I believe you’ve simply got to ‘go with the flow’ and see where that takes you. In the meantime, I’ll take with me another quote from the aforementioned song;
“Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum”
I’ll also wear Sunscreen.