I have a theory why so many of us don't achieve the dreams we had as children. Ever since I could talk and think I wanted to be a singer. My love for music and performance never once diminished — even throughout my teenage years when there were so many distractions.
It started off with small, irrelevant occurrences. A boy whispering to his friend in a primary school assembly, "Why does she sing like that?", getting turned down for a role in the cathedral choir, the school talent show and a solo in the leavers' play. By secondary school, after having my confidence knocked on everything from my looks, height and weight to my level of intellect and the fact I came to school for qualifications and knowledge rather than to waste five to seven years of my life making teachers cry, fitting my school work into the tiniest handbag possible, doing everything in my power to get the worst grades in the class and throwing OHP projectors out of the window, I had little to no confidence in myself.
It didn't stop there, either. In the grand year of your life when all you get asked every day is "so, what are you doing after school?" I was looked down on constantly for my choice to study an English A-level through distance learning whilst I sorted myself out and prepared physically and mentally for what I really wanted to do — an apprenticeship. "Have you thought about going to college?" they all asked, because that's what you're supposed to do. Follow the crowd like a sheep. School, college, university, work, retirement, death. As Lily Allen once said, she didn't want to spend a third of her life preparing to work for the next third of her life, to set herself up for a pension for the next third of her life.
I got dragged along to skills fairs and meetings with careers advisors by hospital therapists who just wanted to say they'd done their bit. I could be a quiet, confusing girl at times who kept her cards close to her chest, and that was difficult for a lot of people to grasp. I couldn't simply be placed in a box. Whenever I told anyone that I wanted to do something creative (which was always secretly a code word for 'music'), they responded first with shock — she never struck me as that type — and secondly with a knowing look. Everyone wants to do something creative, dear, but life's not like that. Welcome to the real world.
When I completed my first apprenticeship, my assessor told me that you needed to have a strong sense of self and good social skills in the creative industry, and so she didn't think it was something I would be able to get into. I never told her I was a singer. I never told anyone who didn't deserve to know what I had dedicated my life to. They'd only ask me to 'sing something' (yeah, i'll just belt out Love on top. It'd be so appropriate and not awkward in the slightest.)
I let everyone drag me down, I let their lack of belief in me grow and grow because my love for my craft was so strong that it could defeat them all. I decided that I didn't need their help, advice or approval anymore. I didn't need any validation for my beliefs or hobbies.
They tried to interrupt me, just like they try and interrupt all of us with a desire to do something out of the ordinary. People get threatened by those who have ambition. How dare we break the mould?
In the end, their criticism and poor advice only made me more determined to reach my goals. I'm now working in a creative job, and in my spare time I write, perform and produce music. I don't know where they thought i'd be, and I don't even know for sure where i'm going to be. But I know one thing — wherever I end up in my life, i'll be far happier and content with who I am and what i'm doing than they will ever be.
Stay strong, work hard and keep believing. If you want it enough, it will happen. If it's your destiny, it will arrive.