Yesterday I was scrolling through Twitter, as you do, and came across a post by Hannah Gale: 7 Life Mistakes I’m Glad I’ve Made. I thought it was a really cool post, and it got me thinking along the same lines – what mistakes had I made, or what things had gone wrong in my life that I was glad hadn’t gone to plan? Here’s a few I came up with.
1) Consistent teenage unemployment.
As I entered my teenage years, there wasn’t a single doubt in my mind that the minute I turned 16 and got my NI number through, I’d be out the front door with a part time job. Like most, I didn’t really want the job, I wanted the money. When I actually turned 16, though, the reality was very different.
I can attribute this to a variety of reasons, one of the most significant being the town in which I still technically live when I’m not at uni. It was built to be a commuter town, and remains so. As such, the town centre is small, basic, and very superficial. Shops frequently shut down to be replaced by temporary ones, and for some reason there are literally never any jobs available. The only way of getting a job in my town is basically down to whether you’re good mates with someone who already has one.
Either way, I’m glad I didn’t end up getting a job. While I’ve never had much money to spare as a result, it meant I had the ability to concentrate on my studies and my interests. It also means I know how to budget rather well, if I do say so myself.
2) Failing my Grade 5 music theory
Weird to be glad about failing a test, but hey-ho. Basically, I’ve played piano since I was seven years old, and I started working my way through the piano exams over the following decade. I always said I’d get to Grade 6, then stop. In order to qualify for the Grade 6 exam, however, you have to have passed music theory at a Grade 5 level. So, I spent many a Saturday morning studying my way through all five theory grades within a few months.
And it was so boring. I wasn’t doing this because I liked it, I was doing it because I liked doing something else – which was really weird logic, but it made sense at the time. Then, my tennis elbow and other such hypermobility-related issues I’d had for a few years by then started really acting up. I couldn’t practise the piano as much as I liked, because it hurt too much, so I wasn’t keeping at a Grade 6 level of performance.
At the same time, life got really busy – it was Year 11, my GCSE year, and I wasn’t able to manage everything on my plate. Prefect duty, Youth Council meetings, revising for 22 exams, organising the yearbook, having a life… So when I failed the grade 5 exam, I quit piano lessons and allowed myself some space.
3) My Friendship Group went Spectacularly Wrong
God only knows what happened over the summer between Year 11 and Sixth Form, but something changed, somehow. I’ve said before that this was a time of my life I particularly struggled with, from the second half of 2014 right through until 2016, but it baffles me how fast the friendships of that year all failed.
Essentially, over GCSEs, a whole bunch of us had hung out together every break and lunch in the quad at school. It was a mix of different people, but we all became fairly close. Most of us carried on to the same sixth form, and so all that changed was moving from the quad to the common room. But quite suddenly, it became apparent that we weren’t all getting along anymore – and yet nobody seemed willing to acknowledge this.
Eventually one day, me and two people I still called friends decided we needed to get work done over lunch, and went to sit on another table to do it. And just like that, it seemed we had escaped the group. I’ve barely spoken to a single one of them since, and I couldn’t be happier about it. They weren’t happy friendships. And those two friends I sat with are my closest ever to this day.