What do you want to be when you grow up? How many times I heard that question from well-meaning relatives I dread to think. For sixteen years I had only vague ideas about my future although I was well aware of my parent’s expectations. Their expectations didn’t match mine, of that I had no doubts.
Thanks to a local youth worker, I did begin to put a couple of plans together. The first was thwarted because they wouldn’t employ people under eighteen and the second similarly so. I would have to wait until at least twenty-one and gain more experience. It doesn’t matter what my goals were although I must say they were nothing outside the ordinary. What did matter was feeling like I had been stuffed into a glass box. I saw well enough but only to look, not to experience.
My family seemed to be getting what they wanted. A son working in local industry, finding a partner, getting married . . . That was their path, not mine and although I had a good time at British Aerospace, I used the opportunity to save toward a few years travelling. The glass box had to go, my path was clear and it was far from traditional or expected. It resulted in estrangement from a family who couldn’t believe that I threw away an amazing job in favour of travelling to ‘who knows where.’
Now here’s where I step right outside the box and I know I am not alone in this. Not that it matters. As a young person I never easily came to terms with the way society ran. Go to school, get a job, find a partner, mortgage, life insurance, family, etc. I’m not an anarchist and realistic enough to know that at this time, that is the way of the world. Driven by money and controlled by a minority. This used to cause me no end of stress because I saw where I was and it wasn’t where I wanted to be. Change needed to come and I knew I had to be the agent of change, beginning with me. So off I went to unknown shores with an open mind to see what I could discover about people of the world and my place therein.