One of the questions we commonly ask children is “what do you want to be when you grow up?”. We don’t expect an answer that will present itself as truth in the future. Depending on their age we expect a pop star, a police man or a teacher, & so on. Of course, we accept this, they’re only children- so why don’t we accept it as adults? Why do we find it so difficult to accept change?
I was a typical toddler, wandering around and getting my fingers stuck into everything. As I look back through what now seem to be ancient photo album (when it wasn’t actually that long ago), a smile beams across my face as my mind floods with amazing memories from a childhood I was lucky to have. I think that’s what began my spiralling ideas from a very early age. My parents were extremely encouraging, not to mention exceptional role models, and always told me that I could do anything I put my mind to. Anything my heart was set on.
Ever since I can remember I have always been a bit of a ‘teachers pet’. I enjoyed school- up until secondary school anyway but that’s a different story. I can’t remember much of Infants school, but I can remember the conversion from chalk boards to white boards. Another thing I remember, other than learning about Samuel Pepys (why do I remember that over everything else?), is art. At this age I absolutely loved expressing my creativity through art whilst at school- painting, drawing, writing, you name it. I must have been pretty damn good at it too considering a ‘Kayleigh original’ Christmas tree decoration has been featured every single year since.
Of course, at this time I was open to other suggestions. This is probably why I was very fond of a District Nurse that made regular visits to my house for a short period of time. At the age of 6 I probably had more medical supplies than I do now (after nearly 3 years of studying nursing!). I was in my element. Bandaging teddy bears, role playing with my family and running my very own clinic.
As we came to the end of my time at Infant’s school, I needed to make a serious decision regarding my future as I was heading to ‘big’ school. The world was my oyster at this point, and it’s a good job. Monday: Hairdresser, Tuesday: Jockey, Wednesday: Dancer, Thursday: Teacher, Friday: Vet, Saturday: Hairdresser, Sunday: Nurse.
At my primary school we were told to choose an instrument we would like to learn how to play. I can actually remember me and my friends asking, “Can’t our voices be our instruments?”. Cringe. Perhaps if they agreed to this, I would have more of an excuse to take centre stage on every road trip (including those 10 minutes down the road!). I absolutely adore singing, but I’m no Adele. After a disagreement with my parents who wanted me to play the guitar, I chose the keyboard. This kept me occupied for the time being, and I even got to play at one of the school shows- but the best part was when the music teacher let us have a go on the piano. It makes me feel so high-class to think I have a certificate of excellence for the piano- granted it was for playing ‘Mary had a little lamb’.
Come to think of it, this school was probably the reason I got into performing arts. They organised and held the best school plays to date (not that I’m biased at all). The pinnacle of my Primary School acting career was probably being the narrator of Snow White. I was ecstatic when my name was read to have the most lines in the play. Just thinking about it now I shrink back into my pre-teenage self and feel like I have made it. The following years weren’t quite as successful- as I was rejected from the role of Blousey Brown in Bugsy Malone (but of course this was only because they weren’t allowed to give the leading roles to the same pupils each year- that wouldn’t be fair).
Although my mind was often occupied by make-up and hair (not to the extent we see nowadays- more like blue and green glitter eyeliner), I was predominantly consumed by performing arts. Singing and dancing around my bedroom to Busted, making dances and shows to perform for anyone who was willing to watch and even making home-made music videos with one of my friends (which included a very colourful, hand-drawn backdrop on giant cardboard by the way). Like a lot of other children, the most fun games were role plays. My character was always Natalie, 18 years old, 2 children. What was I thinking? By this time I was attending an extra-curriculum dance and gymnastics class, loved following pop star’s antics in ‘Girl Talk’ magazine and loved nothing more than chatting on MSN with Grease playing in the background.
And this is where it all went down-hill. OK, so that is a bit dramatic. Again, I did very well in my lessons at Secondary School and found some of the teachers to be rather brilliant. It’s a shame I couldn’t rate most of the students so highly. I can’t remember much of my first few years at Secondary School very well at all. Here are a few things I do remember though. 1) We had an English/ Drama Teacher who would climb on tables and do anything in his power to make the lesson more fun. 2) I used to feel uncomfortable in Drama lessons at this point. What would have been my favourite lesson ever was uncomfortable by other students who thought they were too cool to take part in Romeo and Juliet. 3) I once made a cushion with my little brothers photograph on it in Textiles. 4) I got so angry when people used to put other colours in my white paint in Art. I guess throughout this time I was simply discovering who I really was and my parents recall me saying ‘I dunno’ whenever I was asked what I wanted to do when I finished school.
Even during my GCSE years, I didn’t quite know what I wanted to do- but I knew I wanted to go to Sixth Form. My GCSE’s were: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, English Language, English Literature, Mathematics, RE, German, Performing Arts, Child Development and Geography, achieving an A* in Performing Arts (of course), Child Development and RE, and A in Geography, English Literature and German. Call me little Miss brain-box. This wasn’t a walk in the park for me though, as it seemed to be for others who insisted they ‘hadn’t even revised’ before we sat the exams yet came out with top grades. I made notes after notes, lists after lists, had post-it notes every where in my house and stayed behind to work for certain subjects. So yes, I’ll happily show off my grades (not that they make the slightest difference now).
I decided to continue to study Health and Social Care, Psychology, Drama and Theatre Studies and German whilst at Sixth Form. It wasn’t until I got there, and had experienced at least one lesson of each subject, that I was pulled to one side to discuss mishaps with the timetable. It was arranged that German and Psychology were to be taught at the same time, which meant I had to take my pick. At this time, I had a brief idea regarding what I wanted to do. I loved the idea of Drama Therapy but didn’t know much about it. Drama Therapy needed a Psychology A-Level, and so my decision had been made for me. I enhanced my A-Level in Health and Social Care to do a double certificate. Come to think of it, it’s a good job I did this now because I needed it to get onto my course at university! I only discovered the career of Mental Health Nursing from my ever-so-good psychology teacher who combined my passions and suggested I looked into it further. He knew me so well. Psychiatric Nursing was exactly my cup of tea. Now that’s a bit different to theatre!
Since starting university I know I have 100% made the right decision to train for this career- but to get to this point I made so many changes in my mind. There is still a long way to go yet too. When I qualify I am undecided as to what to study in more depth. I definitely want to go on to do a Masters Degree or Post-Graduate Diploma but there are so many choices. And guess what? It’s OK that I don’t know yet. And it’s OK that I will change my mind again and again in the process.
We think more negatively of ourselves when our plans and aspirations change than what other people think of us. We need to accept that it is OK for our decisions to change, as different experiences shape our perspective and influence our thought-processes. Don’t feel bad for not following through with a plan- no matter how long you feel like you have been working on it. You have not failed- you have simply taken a different route. Your goal isn’t to have a particular qualification or career- but to be happy and content with where you are.
I’d love to hear how your career goals have changed! Have you had a complete change of heart regarding careers after training? Or, like me, have you just started your main career but made a lot of different decisions to get there?
Until next time,
Kayleigh Rose x