This decade started with me standing on a balcony somewhere near Warwick Avenue. The person I expected to end the decade with, married to and raising children with while I worked part time teaching Geography and he had his financial job in the city, was joining in with the traditional Auld Lang Syne. I thought my future was all planned at 25 like a slow, reliable commuter train that wouldn’t go off track.
But things changed and I changed over the decade. By the end of 2010 I’d been to Rwanda to train teachers, I was Head of Geography at my school and I’d experienced my first summer living out of a rucksack travelling round Poland, Spain and Morocco – with the relationship I’d been in ending shortly afterwards. The travel bug had hit, although it would be 2013 before I had enough courage to start joining group tours so I could travel the world, and I had started to see beyond the future I’d thought was planned for me. During the next 8 years I moved up to Senior Leadership and changed schools three times, relocating to the Midlands in the middle. I returned to different parts of Africa and travelled round Eastern Europe and parts of Asia. I started blogging on a train through Slovenia, Croatia and Hungary in 2014 and from that have gone on to write articles and speak at Conferences and in 2018 I received a Geography teaching award from the RGS. I gained in confidence and accepted I’m essentially a really big Geography and Education geek and that’s ok!
Yet, as I re-read this list of ‘accomplishments’ of the decade (and those others have posted on social media over the last couple of days), this hides so much of what has happened this decade. It’s only the parts of my life I wanted the world to see. It misses out losing two close and very important family members. It misses out days, weeks and sometimes months of driving to and from work in tears because I was so unhappy. It misses out the loneliness of the holidays and weekends when you live on your own and can go for days without seeing or speaking to people. It misses out the feeling of hurt when you’re told “you’re a lovely girl but you aren’t cut out for leadership; you need to settle down first” and you leave a school you’d given everything too without being able to say goodbye because it’s an embarrassment someone on the Senior Team is leaving.
Would I change these lows? No, they are just as important to who I am as the accomplishments – they are just harder to share because we all like to present a shiny, happy version of ourselves to the world. Each high and low has made me who I am and they have brought me to the end of the decade: Single (with no intention of ‘settling down’), off to spend New Year with a friend I met travelling back in 2014 (the Lisa Faulkner’ Fantasy Cake is cooling as I type) and having just ended my first term in a job I am loving every minute of since I started in September (well, almost every minute, as bus duty in the rain at 8am isn’t always quite so lovable!). I know my future isn’t planned at 35 but I’m happy knowing I’m on a winding rollercoaster of life – who knows where the next decade will take me!