Doing what people say you cannot do

‘The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.’

I have found this to be very true, even when the person who said you cannot do said thing was yourself.

Just over a year ago I graduated from university. Tomorrow I will hand in my resignation letter to my first ever job that I’ve had for three years. Next month I will begin a Masters course in Magazine Journalism. Just three things that in the past I, and certain people around me, would have said were impossible.

When I was little, I was always ‘the quiet one’. The one with nothing important to say, the one who just listened to everyone else’s conversations because I didn’t think I had anything worthy to contribute, or I just didn’t have the confidence to say it even if I did. I remember looking at my friends and thinking ‘wow, I wish I could be that confident’. I just never ever thought I would be the kind of person who could freely talk to strangers when they tried to make small talk and not hide behind my mum while she did all the talking for me.

I guess I’ve always been afraid of judgement. I got this idea drilled into my head that there were things I wasn’t ‘allowed’ to like, because they weren’t cool or they didn’t fit in with the crowd. I was afraid of putting my hand up in class for fear of the embarrassment and humiliation that would ensue if I gave the wrong answer, even though I was 99% sure my answer was right. And I really didn’t think I would ever be able to change. I was quiet, not confident, not talkative, the one who was always just there, and that was all I’d ever be.

It took me almost 20 years to realise I was wrong.

When I was 19, I got an interview for a job. I did not know this day was going to change my life. It sounds so cliché but it really did. I arrived at the shop so nervous, I didn’t even think any words were going to come out of my mouth when I was being asked questions, especially about myself. I stumbled through the interview with a fair share of ‘um’s’ and ‘I don’t know’s’, and thought that was the last I was going to hear from them.

The next day I got a phone call, and I was almost certain when I picked up the phone that they were going to tell me that I didn’t get the job. So you can imagine my surprise and quite frankly disbelief when they told me I’d got the job.

Three years later and here I am about to leave the job that has made me into who I am today. When I first started working at that shop, I could just about manage a ‘hi’ to a customer before not knowing what to say. I refused to pick up the phone for my first three months of working there for fear that I wouldn’t know what to say to the person on the other end and would make a fool of myself. You would never have thought I’m the same person now, who answers the phone without hesitation, who will go up to a customer and ask them if they need any help and who will crack jokes with customers without a second thought, even if they don’t appreciate it. It took me a long time but I finally became the person I never thought I would be. I became like those confident people I admired when I was younger. Yes, I am still a bit quiet. I still sometimes prefer to sit and listen than to have all the attention on me. But I am not afraid to express my opinions and make contributions knowing that they matter as much as anyone else’s.

It’s not just myself that I have proved wrong. On my first parent’s evening of my first year of A levels, I was told to reconsider taking English Literature for A level because I wasn’t doing as well as I should have been. That’s the first and last time I cried at parent’s evening.

Four years later I graduated with a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. I guess you could say there was something in me that was spurred on by the fact that someone had doubted me. I could have continued to cry and given up then and there. But I knew that English was what I wanted to do, I have always wanted to read and write and nobody was going to stop me. So I took it as a challenge. And do you know what, when I received that piece of paper with my English Literature A level grade, and three years later the one with my degree printed on it, the feeling of smug satisfaction was one of the best things I’ve ever experienced.

When I finished university I took a year to work and save for the Masters I was applying for. I had my heart set on this university in London where I was going to study Magazine Journalism and get this high-flying job and live happily ever after. I waited months writing my application waiting for them to open and I was so excited when I could finally send mine off.

You can imagine my disappointment when they rejected me, without an explanation even to this day. Needless to say I was heartbroken and saw my future going down the drain. However a week later, I got an offer to study Magazine Journalism in Nottingham. I accepted a few hours and triumphant dances later. It’s not London, but it’s what I want to do and I am so incredibly excited and grateful that I was given another chance. Sometimes things don’t work out exactly as planned but maybe it’s because something even better is around the corner.

What I’m trying to say is never listen to anyone who tells you that you can’t do something, even if it’s yourself. Use it as a reason to say ‘you know what, actually I CAN. And I will’. I promise you that you can do whatever you put your mind to, no matter how cringey and cliché that sounds. It’s taken me until 22 years old to realise that I never should have doubted myself, but I guess hindsight is a wonderful thing. Just keep going because one day you’ll become that person you’ve always wanted to be.

I don’t really know why I’m writing this post, or if anyone will even still be reading. I guess I wanted somewhere to vent all my feelings as I’ve been reflecting a lot on the past few years of my life before I move on to the next one next month. If I’ve managed to give anyone a bit of hope along the way then that would make me so happy.

A lot of you also know that I’m a massive One Direction fan. Over the first six years of supporting them, I always wished I could be lucky enough to meet or be noticed by one of them. They mean an awful lot to me, but that’s too much to get into now. The point is I had resigned myself to the fact I would never meet any of them. But a lot of you know that last year I finally met Niall, and two weeks ago I met Louis too! Nothing can describe the feeling of finally meeting your idols after so many years of waiting and seeing other fans meeting them and wondering if it’ll ever be your turn. I know it’s not on the same scale as uni or getting a job but to me, finally meeting Louis after seven whole years was one of the best moments of my life. Even when he was there in front of me my chance almost slipped away because I wasn’t quite close enough to be able to get a picture, but as he was about to leave I called out to him and he actually came back and called me over to get a picture! I never could have imagined that would happen to me and I am forever grateful for those few moments he took to make me the happiest person alive.

Over the past few years I have done a lot of things that people, including myself, said I could not do, and it is indeed the greatest pleasure in life.

Have you ever done something people - or yourself – thought you couldn’t? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Thank you as always for reading, especially this exceptionally rambly and personal post!

All the love, x


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