Friday 25 August 2017

Opportunity, Judgement and Self-Growth

Since moving from the edge of Wales to slightly over an hour’s train journey to London, I have noticed a significant difference in the way creativity is judged and perceived from the perspective of young people (I mean, I can’t really have any other perspective at this point in my life), and the opportunities available in different parts of the countries, notably more concentrated in the areas surrounding London.

Now living in a more urban area, on the outskirts of a city, with a noticeably larger population, I had to move on to a sixth form college rather than remain at my secondary school to complete my A Levels. College has allowed myself, as well as many of my peers, to dig deeper into topics that interest us and to discover for ourselves what our passions are and to pursue them. Through college, I’ve never felt more myself. I’ve campaigned for the things I believe in (not just on social media for those of you skeptics who think that I live on Twitter, I do leave the echo chamber sometimes) and I’ve branched out creatively so that I feel like I’ve got more options than ever.

But why is this? Why now?

Some may say that it’s the time in my life where self-discovery is most prominent. I’m 17, going on 18 (yes, I did just sing Rolf’s part in the Sound of Music song of my childhood), so this period is the clichéd ‘coming of age’ period in my life that I’ve seen predicted to me in countless teen movies through my rose-tinted television screen. This is the age of self-discovery, right? Partly true. I do think we develop more at a young age as we come across lots of new things and experiences for the first time, but I think it is also ignorant and unfair to say that as soon as you reach ‘adulthood’ you are now your concrete self. When we reach 18, that’s the person we will be forever, when in fact we are never really the same person from one moment to the next. Lots of people do more developing later on and feel more comfortable in themselves later on, and that’s okay. There’s a lot of pressure on people to ‘find themselves’ and carve out who they want to be when they are barely out in the real world. No one ever finishes developing. Ever. We keep developing until our dying breath and it takes time to accept that.

I think that, if I hadn’t had such a change in my life after my move, I wouldn’t have grown into the person I am now – with all the likes, passions, dislikes and knowledge I have accumulated along the way – due to the opportunities that were made available to me. By merely being in the South of England, with more people and more teachers to teach more subjects that have now carved my future due to the fact that I was vaguely interested and wanted to learn a little more about the world from subjects that seemed exotic to me. My friends, who have been denied the opportunity to study what I have studied, have told me they wished that had been made available to them and I think it should have been.

I am now also closer to London. London, with all its events, museums and experiences waiting to happen. I have to admit that I do still think of London in a kind of romantic light. In my mind, it’s a place of excitement, opportunity, and unknown prospects – think One Short Day from Wicked. I’m aware that’s a naïve way of thinking but I don’t care. It keeps me excited for the future.

I am so grateful to have had the opportunities I have had and I feel so ashamed and sad that the same opportunities aren’t given to others who would benefit from them similarly. We need broaden out events so that they take place across the whole of the UK, not just London. At many events I’ve been to, there’s been a camera live streaming. This is where we need to embrace the digital age truly and get the word out about events we may be able to watch and learn from as if we were there ourselves.

A lot needs to be done within the education system, mostly in rural areas. To me, sixth form colleges, apprenticeships or any other way of moving on after finishing GCSEs is the best way to go about things. When I was in Year 11, I felt like I had outgrown school. It was refreshing to be in an institute that was there specifically for people my age. No 11-year-olds down the corridor making noise or playing tag in the playground. Having moved away from school, I think that myself and my classmates have matured a lot more. As a creative person wanting to pursue a creative career (as are most of my friendship group) and I think that we all feel less judged for our dreams now. This is because there are so many people in college that there is no way you can know everyone and there isn’t the same sort of hierarchy as there is in secondary school. Due to those increased numbers, you can find people who are more akin to yourself – in this case, a massive group of creatives coming together and helping each other push forwards (quick interval: love you guys, you’re the best. Okay, now continue). With less social pressure to not doubt our passions, we have been able to explore them more and advance our skills.

That’s everyone’s aim, right?

So, because I have benefited so much from the experience of college (the actual A levels and studying are not included here, that’s stress city, but it’s the experience I’m more focused on here), I think that they should be introduced in more places across the country and to a higher standard (as well as other post-16 options, although as I haven’t taken those routes I’m not as educated on them so if you have then feel free to tell me your experiences with it).

If you liked this post you might like: Criticising Something You Love

1 comment:

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