I once asked someone I had just met what they imagined my childhood was like. They said they imagined I had grown up in a reasonably wealthy home with stable parents, and gone to university—the usual.
I told them that I had grown up on housing commission (or council housing – that’s housing subsidised by the government in the UK). I grew up amongst an eclectic bunch of people. Next to a regularly loud alcoholic, lots of single mums struggling to get by, and kids experimenting with drugs.
I knew that I wanted something different for my life from around ten years old. My way out was to study. It was also an escape and an area where I could achieve. At 12, I won a scholarship to a private girls’ school. They all had posh British voices, and I spoke in the local dialect of my parents, and I stood out like a sore thumb.
Within 12 months, I had changed my accent to fit in. It didn’t sound as posh as the other girls, but I definitely didn’t sound like my family anymore.
When I told my parents I wanted to attend university, my dad said no. I needed to get a job. I knew I would go, whether or not I had permission, and told Mum so she could start working on him.
I funded myself through university. I worked in a travel shop in the student union and a clothes shop in the town centre and took out student loans.
Why did I write this?
I think to challenge some of your assumptions about me when you connect with me here on this platform. It’s easy to hear my voice, see me, and make incorrect assumptions.
I’m curious if you find this surprising or not. Let me know in the comments.