I was always passionate about scuba diving and even considered joining the Royal Navy (my dad and granddad used to do a lot of UK scallop diving in Dorset), but this idea was talked down quickly in my school not by words, but through a lack of them: if I mentioned them, no one really knew how to respond to it so just politely smiled and nodded. It was the same when I had the idea of applying to drama school. I ended up choosing from a choice that wasn't mine: filling out my UCAS form and narrowing the choices down to Nottingham University and Queen Mary University of London. I at least chose London because of the wider pull of the city.
More on that in part 3. Coming up next month..
It is the old Back to the Future Part 2 time-travel conundrum: we can never know if we would have done things differently or even wanted to if presented with the chance to change the past. I certainly know how my path through the higher education experience at 18 led me to what I do now, by helping me understand what I want from life: to use my body to play and experiment via performance, to understand what being respected is, to cope with and embrace independent living, to feel comfortable by dedicating myself each day to causes with purpose, and finally: to not have to worry about being cool and liked by everyone. My degree couldn't have been named all of the previous sentence: it was called Hispanic Studies and Drama, but the degree-specific knowledge was the last thing I rate from it: even if it wasn't perfect, as I've realised with life: you discover as much about what you do want from life through being brave enough to throw yourself into circumstances out of your comfort zone...to almost embrace experiencing a bit of what you definitely don't want from life.
That's what the higher education experience is for me: a bit of what my really old Chinese grandmother (those last 4 words make her sound like a naturally respected philosopher) used to describe living with my really old Chinese granddad as: one spoon of sugar, one spoon of sh*t. She wouldn't have had it any other way, and even if I could change the past neither would I. This blog might feel like I'm avoiding a coherent conclusion which can help students make a choice from 18. Far from it. Everyone sees the world in a different way, and some people know what they want from life before they even leave primary school - and have values instilled which they'll build on no matter what their journey after school or college. All we can do when we talk to young people is offer up our personal experiences over the transition to adulthood, which I would retrospectively mark as 20-30. When you're young you always think you're older than you are, and when you're 30 you realise how young and innocent (but also 'carefree and brave') your thought patterns and outlook was pre-20.
Stay tuned for the final part, next month...
MOJ TAYLOR is a comedian who started stand up when selected for the BBC's Stand Up If You Dare in 2013 - and was mentored by Mark Dolan and Jasper Carrott. He is the Executive of Push - he has also won a Fringe First award in Edinburgh as an actor. Within Push, he is responsible for overall business development, the selection and training of presenters, and collaborative outreach. He also works closely with Johnny to ensure all the Push framework is deeply informative, but also inspiring and funny. His website is mojtaylor.com
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