Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Sliding Doors

Yes it was a shitty movie, but I liked the concept. A way of seeing what would happen in a parallel life if you'd made different decisions.

I'm not one for regrets, pointless waste of time and energy if you ask me, but if I ever ask myself the question "what would my life be like if I'd....." I always go back to the same point in time. My childhood. Not my whole childhood you understand, but a specific point.

From my birth up to the point of puberty I had grown up in a sleepy farming village. My Dad was a farm worker so we lived in a bungalow owned by the farm and whilst we were very, very poor, I had a wonderful life. I went to infant, then primary school there and when the time came it was off to Comprehensive about 15 miles away.

Something happened when I got to comprehensive, I really came into my own. I had always been a sensitive kid, but always pretty confident, when I hit this school though, my confidence went into overdrive. I had no fear, no anxieties about anything. I could talk to anyone, of any age about anything - including, gosh, gasp.....girls. I mixed with 1st years all the way to 5 form guys, even playing football with them of a lunch time.

Quite simply, I loved my life. That was all soon to change.

My Dad, quite rightfully seeing no future on the farm and wanting to make life better for his family, decided big changes needed to be made. This meant leaving the farm, the house and my school.

Now as heartbreaking as this was for me, I was a positive and optimistic lad and looked upon it as another great adventure. I was leaving behind childhood friends, memories and hell I'd even managed a girlfriend, that was hard, not the getting the girlfriend part - at this stage in my life that was surprisingly easy, but leaving it all behind, that was hard.

Not as hard as what was to come though.

We moved in spring of 1988 into the council house where I would spend the next 5 years, I had no idea at that time what a stigma that house would be since at this time I had no experience of the class structure in our society. That changed during my first week at my new school.

This was a very middle class area and the school was a microcosm of the class system. Unfortunately that meant if you didn't dress in the right way, have a specific haircut, or you were working class and lived on a council estate, you were the underclass - or the more popular term "gypo".

I'd never been pigeonholed before and I didn't like it. No scratch that, I fucking. hated. it. I grew up in a place where those things didn't seem to be relevant or if they were I never experienced it. I went to a school where I socialised with anyone wanted, not so here. You socialised with your own kind. Only I didn't see it that way and I could not or would not accept it. This lead to quite a bit of social exclusion, psychological bullying and a good many fights, which due to my stubborn nature, I would. not. lose. It was hell.

The consequence of this was an adoloscent that suffered from anxiety attacks, that became introverted, suffered from a massive drop in confidence and whose self esteem hit an all time low. Not that anyone would ever know, because the one thing I excelled at was bottling it all up.

I desperately missed where I came from and despised where I was, but wallowing does no one any good, so I manned up and got on with it. Even if I did hate almost every fucking second. When it came time to leave, I'd never felt such relief. Then it was off to college, which in so many ways was like the first comprehensive I went to. I loved it there, but unfortunately I was not the same person I once was, which meant I never experienced that time to the fullest and those scars that occured while at Marlborough, still to some degree haunt me to this day.

So over the years I have found myself asking "what would have happened if I'd stayed?" and "Where would I be now?"

I think I certainly would have had happier teenage years. My confidence would have continued to grow and I was beginning to develop good leadership skills. I also think I wouldn't have had any problem with the ladies, which was a far cry from where I did end up.

But, I also think I would have settled. I would have probably married young, not had much of a career and probably had been on my second marriage by now.

See as bad as my time at Marlborough school was, I became self sufficient, ambitious and hungry for more. I desperately wanted to break away from that life and do something for me, create my own rules, forge my own identity and I learned to cherish my individuality. All of which, I did. I'm not sure any of that would have happened had I stayed.

Like I said, I don't do regrets.

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