Friday, 21 June 2013

On Being a Becket Kid...

It's nearly 14 years since I left St Thomas Becket Primary School.

I was a geeky kid - the kind who spent their playtime reading in a corner of the playground as oppose4d to joining in with other games.  In fact, in some ways I cringe when I recall my na├»ve enthusiasm for any kind of learning; I hadn't yet learnt to act with nonchalance and I must have been infuriating to teach.

But I did love my school.  The Leavers' Disco with it's cheesy music and final shouts of 'Becket!  Becket!'  The boys in my class who changed the way I see Cher's 'Believe' forever.  And the innocent scandal when one boy kissed one of the girls.  In Year 5!  The horror!

Fast-forward to the present and I don't generally think about that time too much - for me, it was a time when I was at my most vulnerable, too soft and with skin barely thick at all.  But recently people keep on popping up on my newsfeed.  One girl getting married, another pregnant, people who have started their own businesses, are on holiday and the weird day-to-day stuff that we never really think about.

It's been so many years since I've seen most people, and yet I'm so glad that snippets of their life come my way.  It seems so strange to consider how grown up we are now, bizarrely as if those years had never happened.  I spent yesterday evening with one of my best friends from primary school and her boyfriend and it was as if we were 11 only yesterday.  The perfect evening.  An utterly lovely way to spend my time.

And I do hope that when we hit 20 years of having gone our separate ways, someone'll sort out a reunion.  Partly to see how everyone is.  Mainly for the gossip.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Why choosing a career that perpetuates stereotypes can challenge those stereotypes

I would like to highlight the fact that the reason there is no picture attached to this article is that all of the pictures that Google came up with were of women in high heels.  I personally feel that this reflects badly on all the male secretaries I've ever met who, without exception, would approach wearing high heels with absolute horror.

I have, over the last year, gone through a fairly momentous career change.  Having had no life as a teacher, I decided to quit in order to be able to focus on writing in my spare time.  Since then I’ve been working on a number of projects (including this blog, a pitch for one of the Nationals, a novel, a joint-podcast and a number of academic papers). 

Writing, however, very rarely pays the bills.

So I took a job, working as a school secretary.  Now, I love my job.  It’s busy, fast-paced, challenging (especially when having to walk the political tightrope in the staffroom) and I enjoy interacting with the huge number of people who come to the office every day (students, visitors, parents, inspectors, exam officers, the list goes on and on), but the pay could be better.

So I’ve started looking at some of the big firms in the city.

Now, there is a small part of me that wonders whether I might be perpetuating the stereotypes.  Some people can’t believe that, despite having two degrees and having given a paper on ‘Romeo and Juliet and the Cybertextual’ at an international conference, I still want to be an executive secretary.

But an executive secretary doesn’t just answer the phone.  They (because yes, there are male and female secretaries) have to be hyper-organised, understand the intricacies of the business world that they operate in, be able to write reports and have killer logistics.  There’s is so much more to administration than most people ever work out, and I enjoy that.

And to be perfectly honest, this entire blog is about challenging stereotypes.  I’m highly educated and yet adore Mills & Boon novels, Made in Chelsea and discussing the pros and cons of balconette bras.  And I am not ashamed of any of those things.  Everyone should have the option of choosing what they do, so I’m choosing to follow a career path which will be mentally stimulating and financially viable, in order to continue exploring my dreams.

Bring it.