Last week was another weird week in lockdown; it went very quickly but I don’t really know what I did with my time? I didn’t seem to want to do anything particularly productive, but I wouldn’t say I did nothing either. Just a weird time-passed-me-by kind of week. I think a lack of deadlines is having an effect. When you’re your own boss, you start to think does it really matter if I go on my morning run? Or, who’s gonna care if I don’t get all 3 blog posts up this week? But the answer is you. You will mind and you will care. That’s why I’m trying to get back on track this week. Nothing too strenuous, just ticking the odd thing off my to-do list here and there – just trying to keep going really!
One thing that did come out of my weird week however was an idea! It came to me whilst I was flicking through old family albums and reminiscing. Not sure about any of you, but whilst in lockdown I’ve been returning more frequently to my childhood thoughts and memories. I think this is down to a combination of spending lockdown in my family home, only a 5-minute walk from my primary school, and actually having the time to reminisce, as we often don’t get the chance. All this looking back got me thinking about how I got to where I am now. Not to sound all nostalgic, as let’s be honest, I’m only 22; but I thought it would be nice to look at the moments that (I believe) have made me who I am and have influenced my choices in life so far. Originally I wanted to make a post that incorporated all those moments up till now, but after having a think about them, I thought that would be far too long! So, instead, I thought I’d turn this into a series of ‘Moments that Made Me’, and add to it over time. I have no idea where this blog will go, but how cool to think that if I’m still writing it in 10 years time I can look back over a series of ‘Moments that Made Me’?
So, without further ado, here is Chapter 1 of Moments that Made Me:
1. Having an Older Brother
From the moment I was born, I had someone to follow, copy, learn from and generally look up to. Unlike my elder brother, I’ve never been alone in my ‘growing up’ and never will be, and that’s always been a very comforting thought to have. There are so many ways having an older brother has influenced me. I think it’s made me tough in more ways than one. Like the fact that I could respond to boys teasing me with a cheeky comeback as I’d heard it all before. A lot of my sporting abilities and hand-eye coordination go back to his patience at teaching me how to catch, throw and dribble properly in the garden. This may not seem like a big deal, but growing up, sport was always something I found confidence in. Sadly, I think sport and playground games are still seen as being for boys. Or it felt like that to me when I was younger. Crazy to think how aware I was of that fact at just 7 or 8 years old, feeling so smug when I was in league with the boys in my year. Running just as fast, catching just as well and having a football team to support. Being quite shy, I aspired to my brother’s confidence which taught me to always look out for myself. That stubborn, “I know I’m great”, has always been silently there, even when I was feeling under-confident. And yet at the same time, I think our 5 year age gap has also taught me a valuable lesson in respecting your elders. Yes, we all grow up with our parents, but having an older sibling you are acutely aware of your age and that slight lack of life experience that they have on you. I thought my brother was the wisest person on earth when I was younger (and still do sometimes) and being aware of that self-ignorance is always a good lesson in life. As Albert Einstein said, “the more I learn, the more I realise how much I don’t know”.
2. Belonging to a Big Family
Not really a moment as such, as unlike having an older brother, which started from the moment I was born, I’m not really sure when I became aware that my family was big. Or big in comparison to the norm. Whenever I look at old photos or videos I’m always struck by the chaos of it. Small children everywhere, adults gathered around chatting, toys strewn all over the place, it looks like a nightmare! But, a loveable nightmare. Although we get on top of each other and there’s a lot of arguing sometimes, I honestly love belonging to a big family. I should probably explain what I mean by big. Well in my immediate family, there’s me, my older brother, my younger sister (by 16 months), my younger brother and my parents. And then outside of that is lots and lots of cousins, aunties and uncles; especially on my dad’s side, as he’s one of seven.
Anyway, I think being in a big family has impacted me hugely. Always having people around you of various ages has made me super aware of other people. Growing up it was always about sharing your toys, food, presents, love and Mum and Dad’s attention. I learnt very early on that the world doesn’t revolve around you and you can’t always get what you want. From arguing over who’s sitting in the middle seat in the car, to what we’re having for dinner. I was a really fussy eater when I was younger but that didn’t stop my parents from serving me the same dishes that they knew I didn’t like over and over again because it was easy for them and they had 3 other children who did like it. And whilst I hated it at the time I now eat everything and anything! (Still not big on mash potato though).
3. Growing Up in the Countryside
I have lived in the same house in the same tiny village since I was born. We don’t have any shops or even a local bus service. We used to have a post office, but then that was replaced by a Chinese and a hairdresser’s (both lovely additions, but the post office was handy). The rest of it is houses and fields. Endless stretches of footpaths and country roads. This means that a lot of my entertainment as a child came from being outside, ambling about. My Grandad would make us all walking sticks and we’d go walking, stopping to feed the ducks, or to pick blackberries. At home it was climbing trees in the garden, playing football or making ‘mud cakes’ with my sister (this was literally hand moulded mud topped with more mud and maybe some leaves for decoration). All this time spent outside in the countryside has definitely given me an appreciation for nature. And a homely appreciation at that. Whenever I see open fields they remind me of the ones by my house; when I see sand dunes I think of the ones at Winterton-on-Sea, where we go not only in summer but Boxing Day and New Years. This upbringing has made me adventurous, not afraid to get my hands dirty and a place I know I can go to if I want to escape the modern world.
4. My Primary School
My last point for this instalment of ‘Moments that Made Me’ as I feel I’m waffling and this seems like a good stage to stop at, is my primary school. When I think of my primary school I think of its warmth, colour, safety and community. For me, my primary school wasn’t just my primary school, it was a huge part of my childhood and is something I’m very grateful for. It gave me the confidence to be whoever I wanted to be. The school and my headteacher encouraged everyone’s individuality whilst maintaining a deep sense of togetherness. We only wore our school uniforms on special occasions and got to choose our school jumpers from an array of colours. We had school trips to London and the Norfolk Broads where we were free to explore and be curious. We also received a range of school visitors, from children’s author James Mayhew to the Grassroots Theatre Group of the Zimbabwe company. Christmas was a whole school occasion and involved baking Christmas puddings, making decorations, delivering cards, and rehearsing for the nativity in the local church. All this excitement had a huge influence, and I still look back fondly on my time there, knowing that so much of it inspired my creativity, moral compass and sense of adventure.
Stayed tuned for the next chapter of ‘Moments that Made Me’ where I’ll be covering family holidays and high school drama.