If I had continued with my education when I was supposed to or if I had attended the school of journalism that was actually an option once upon a time, where would I be right now? Would I be working as a writer? Or a teacher, perhaps, imparting knowledge to school children. Or would I have written a few books by now, written under my own name like I often wished I could when I was younger? Why didn't I take that road? Why didn't I bother?
Her story impressed me. I mean, it really impressed me when I overheard, and later watched, bits and pieces of her life story when the television was on. To have that kind of support was astounding to me. And if the story was true, to know what she wanted to do when she was fourteen was amazing to me. A little later on, when I mentioned it to my husband, my voice broke when I said I wished I could have been that sure of the path I wanted to follow at that young age. Things could have been different, couldn't they?
Upon further reflection, I realised that I did know what I wanted to do. I wanted to write. And whether it was seen as ambitious or not, I created my own monthly magazines, filled with my own stories and articles. My father knew I wanted to write. My mother knew. They all knew. But where was the encouragement?
It was true. My parents let me do what I wanted to do. I wrote my stories because I wanted to and I didn't need any encouragement. But where was the guidance? And would I have resented it, feeling that I was being pushed? At the time, it was enough that they knew that I wanted to write and that I could do it. I had to be by myself. I wanted to be by myself. The sad thing was that my other grades in school started going down the drain when I was about twelve or thirteen. English was my best subject and I never even studied for it. I hardly studied for any of my other subjects. Private tutoring was provided for my brothers and I from a young age. I was never a brilliant student but I was good up to a point and then I started falling by the wayside. I even remember a math test at fourteen. Before our results were announced to the entire class, another classmate and I knew that we had probably failed. I don't remember if our form teacher announced everyone's results or just those who had failed the test. She called out my name and said, "Five." My friend had scored "two" out of a hundred marks. Yes, we failed, and failed miserably. And how clever of us to have known it even before the grand announcement.
I wanted to write. And I somehow convinced myself that it was all I needed to know about if that was all I wanted to do. I was otherwise apathetic, disinterested, indifferent. I was a poor student. Never mind that English saved me. Well, yes, I do mind that English saved me. And I'm most grateful, even thankful, that it saved me. For it later opened a few doors for me that would otherwise have been closed because of not having done as well in the other subjects.
To be fair, when I was about eighteen, my mother did tell me about a writing school overseas which sounded very interesting. It was a correspondence course, about writing for children, but I never followed up on it. There was another correspondence course through another writing school in another country that I actually signed up for. I only completed one or two assignments and never finished the course. I had no discipline. My mind wasn't very focused. I thought I was, of course, but my thoughts - and my life - meandered here and there. I was restless.
And my father did give me permission to leave the junior college to pursue my writing. Perhaps he knew that life was short and that he wouldn't be on this earth for too long. And he wanted me to follow my dream, however difficult it might be. I'm only guessing like I sometimes do for he passed away two months later. It was a brief phone call, but it was an important one, at the time. He believed in working hard, in working his way up. So I believed it too, not realising that it didn't always work that way. Sometimes, yes, but not always.
When I was in my mid twenties, I once mentioned to a co-worker that whenever I passed by the local university (in a bus on my way home), I felt as if I had missed the boat. And maybe I "missed the boat" in more ways than one.
Whatever that other road was, I didn't take it. I had refused to take it. Refused? No, I couldn't take it for it was closed to me. Or maybe I was the one who didn't think I was good enough, or would be successful enough, to walk down that path. That kind of future just never seemed very real to me. And I was very good at making excuses for myself.
It is clear to me that one can still be a student in one's early forties. The road was always there and it is still there. I even think it's been waiting for me. There was a time when I considered higher education but it didn't work out. It was only junior college but the environment didn't appeal to me very much and I was so shy and so inhibited. And if my mind couldn't fully comprehend something, it stayed that way. I couldn't push myself. I didn't push myself.
Would I have been a better writer? A different writer? A different person? Would I have chosen a different career path? I will never know. But I don't need to know. For the world is still my oyster, believe it or not. (Dare I believe it?) And the road that I didn't take much earlier on is still open to me. It appears every once in a while, reminding me of what I had missed. It doesn't tease; it doesn't taunt. It actually encourages. How amazing that a road ... a path ... even a journey of sorts ... is able to do just that.