Written over 6 years ago hence some of the references may be outdated, but I believe the overall message is still relevant today for many. Be warned: This may take more than a minute to read, but I hope you enjoy it despite it!
‘You can be anything you want to be!’ they said.
‘You’ll grow up to be smart, successful and happy.’
Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about, I thought.
‘You’ll go to university, get a proper job, and make lots of money…’
Ok, calm down now. What if I wanna be rapper like Dappy?
‘then you’ll get married to the perfect man, have 2.5 kids, a big house, settle down and be close enough for us to pop around.’
What if I meet a woman instead? Or a man that’s nothing like Superman?
Or I don’t want kids because that’s not for me?
Or I choose to foster or adopt.
After all, It’s my decision for what I opt.
And as for settling down, what if I want to travel and live in a caravan?
Or if I work as a barman,
Or my dream is to be like Wu tang clan.
Or if I want to live in Japan,
Or fight as a soldier in Afghanistan.
‘We’ll make sure you’re successful and happy,
And help you decide what you want to do by the time you’re 16!’
So now there’s a deadline?
And if I miss it, apparently the future will be my fine!
I know you want a smile on my face
So you’ll raise me lovingly and try your best.
But remember life is not a race.
And what if your definition of successful is not the path I wish to take?
What is it somebody once said about the road less travelled?
I want that road, or to create a new one, maybe several.
I want life to constantly fill my head with more memories, adventures and knowledge,
Because it’s not just about the destination.
And maybe I’ll be no good at tests,
But be a brilliant jest.
Maybe I’ll be a policewoman in a bright vest.
Maybe I’ll drop out of uni and create a blood test
That diagnoses 30 types of illnesses in the west,
Or Dragon’s Den chooses me as the one in which they invest.
Whatever I do or become,
I highly doubt there is just one path,
I may love to do sums,
But if I don’t go to uni, don’t label me as dumb.
If I want to be a plumber then teach me about apprenticeships
It’s one of the highest paying jobs after all,
So I’ll end up far from just serving chips
And tell my teachers if I’m saying words aloud,
I’m not trying to disrupt the class,
I just learn differently, acoustically
That’s something we need to recognise,
So our national curriculum can be more individualised
Yes I realise its hard work, maybe a bit costly,
But if we’re the future, aren’t we worth it?
And if we’re the first generation that’s less well off than our parents with opportunities,
Then clearly something has to change.
Someone needs to think sensibly and pragmatically but also slightly emotionally.
Not just increase our tuition fees and tell us there are ‘other opportunities’
That will just increase animosity.
What about actually showing us how to get to these other paths?
Tell me that being a runner will increase my chances of being an actor
Or that I can get promoted to a higher position with experience, not just a degree.
Or teach and assess me in a way that doesn’t just test my memory during exam time.
And get people that know students to present ideas in parliament instead of relying on twisted statistics and Michael Gove.
Put teachers in charge of the curriculum that is implemented in our kid’s education
And don’t just make it all about achieving first place in the league tables,
Until your integrity is disabled.
Instead of a lesson being solely devoted to bleak exam technique,
Because this is highly concerning.
So, if I can truly be whatever I want to be,
Please, teach us, support us and listen to us.
Because our lost generation will need it,
With around 30% unemployed, not in education or following their own dreams.
Think of their self-esteem.
The only generation to be growing up faster due to this media exposure
But at the same time growing up slower,
With more people than ever depending on their parents till their 30.
So help us to appreciate life and also be our versions of successful,
Because this is essential so that we are no longer resentful
And so we’ll be lost no more and find ourselves.