Personal

Lessons beyond the classroom

Today, motivated by the emotions I felt when writing my previous blog post, I decided to go into my old school and visit my former teachers, to catch up with them and let them know how much they had helped me. I was nervous – what if they didn’t want to talk to me? What if they didn’t have time? – but I went anyway because I had too much to get off my chest.

It was a really inspirational experience and I’m glad I did just go for it – they had a lot of words of wisdom to share with me.

First of all, I went to see Music Teacher No. 1 (I had four music teachers, and I saw two of them today, so they shall have to be reduced to numbers!). She herself has been through tough times, and is still facing problems, so we comforted each other and I managed to get through telling her all about my depression and how I’m on the road to recovery. It was lovely to be able to open up to someone so freely without judgement. We also talked a lot about music and uni coursework, which was all very encouraging as it transpires she used to have problems like me with some aspects of keyboard skills. This then led onto my plans for after I graduate and how I can get experience while I’m still at university. Her advice was, I should keep an open mind and take any opportunities thrown at me, even if they’re irrelevant to my long-term career aspirations, because it’s all about developing skills and opening your mind. She suggested that if I ever want work experience in a relevent field, I should just write letters and ask, because otherwise I’ll never find the best opportunities.

I then saw Music Teacher No. 2, who was my “proper” Advanced Higher teacher (after being shunted about between classes for a good five months) and, dare I admit it, the “Mrs Role Model” of my previous post. I was looking forward to seeing her the most as I hadn’t spoken to her since last June. Again, I confessed all to her about my illness, and she seemed rather surprised, but accepting all the same. I (sort of) told her what I had been thinking about – about how I’ve learnt not to strive for perfection, but to do as best as I can and leave room for fun and adventure and life experience (I was too shy to admit it was partly because of her I had begun to think like that), and her support was overwhelming. She told me about a phrase her mum used to use: “swim at your own pace”. It’s true, she said, because if you spend time looking around to see where other people are in the race, it slows you down. I also admitted that sometimes I find some of my coursemates intimidating because they seem to eat, sleep and breathe music. She said that it took her until her final year of university to realise that in first year, everyone is trying to seem bigger and better than they actually feel, it’s all “delusion and hot air” and by the end of my degree, I’ll be surprised at how many of these people I’m intimidated by have been totally grounded over the years.

The best bit, is that I now know I’m still welcome in my old school, as Music Teacher No. 2 suggested I come back for a longer chat whenever I’m home next month. I’m thrilled that I am still accepted and that she is happy to be in contact with me again.

So there we have it: excellent advice on all aspects of life, from work experience to life experience. Who’d have thought some of my most valuable lessons would have come after having left school?

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