I never actually thought I would be saying this, but tomorrow is my twentieth birthday. I always used to go around telling people that this day was never going to come and that I would never get to twenty, but I guess I was wrong (and I don't admit to being wrong very often).
I normally hate my birthday. To be honest this birthday is no different, but seeing as I am turning twenty, I have decided to let you all have a little insight into my life. Twenty years is quite a long time, and in that time there are a lot of things that can go wrong. But there is also a lot of things that can go right. That is why I am going to share with you the things I have managed to accomplish over the last twenty years; along with some of the things I hope I can have accomplished by the time I reach forty.
At the age of four, I was given the role of Mary in my pre-school's version of the nativity. It probably wasn't the best of ideas as, if I am remembering this correctly, when I went on stage I started crying (I can't remember the outcome of this but I can just remember crying because all I could see was bright lights and a room full of people). But I was still able to at least put my hand up to get the part of Mary (something I wouldn't do now) and at least got up on stage, even if I can't remember the outcome.
Around the ages of nine or ten, I first started learning how to play the cornet (for those of you who don't know, it is a smaller version of a trumpet). In the years before this, I had been learning how to play the recorder (but let's face it, who didn't?), so I guess having done that made it a little easier when learning how to play the cornet. When I took my grade 1 test, I got a merit, grade 2 was a distinction, and grade 3 was a pass. I guess this was an accomplishment for me because, even though I eventually gave it up when I was thirteen, I did (and still have) a very big interest in music and at the time I was hoping to make it big as a musician. I guess I very soon became bored of this idea and realised it wasn't something I wanted to do, but at the time I guess achieving anything like this and even just being able to go there and perform in front of a couple of people to try and impress them enough to get a good grade was a big thing for me and a great accomplishment nonetheless.
It was also around this time that I joined a new swimming group. I was originally put in the shallow end of the pool, however after doing just one width they got me to move groups because they felt I had been put in the wrong group. It is fair to say that I was more than chuffed at this. I had also then, not long after this happened, moved to a different leisure centre and the swimming group I was put in there contained quite a lot of children who were at least eleven (or were to soon turn eleven) and I was just nine. I don't think my swimming instructor had realised this until I told him, at which point he was shocked that I was at a stage where I could be swimming among people that were at least two years older than me. So I guess to do that is pretty impressive.
When I was in year 5, my primary school put on a play. I can't remember the name of it, but I know it was about cowboys and the wild west. I auditioned for this with two of my friends, which we had to do in front of our teacher and the entire class. Only one of us got an actual part in the play (SPOILER: it wasn't me) and me and my other friend were part of the chorus and people who just stand in the background on stage. I did have one word to say which was "yep" when asked if I wanted a refill for my beer (it wasn't actual beer, don't worry). Even though I didn't get a part, considering I could get up and SING in front of over thirty people, I am pretty proud of myself.
Now we move onto SATs. For those of you who aren't from the UK, these aren't like the American version that they take at the end of high school. SATs are what you take at the end of year 6 (aged 10/11) and your results can determine which sets you get put in for English, Maths and Science when you move up to secondary school (although why they make you sit through exams and can't just talk to your teachers on your overall performance and base the sets around this instead I do not know). Overall I got mostly level 5's, apart from in maths where I got a level 4, but I would say I was quite happy with these results. Other than the fact that I did lie about them because there was one girl in my class who thought she was better than everyone and she got all level 5's and I didn't want to give her a reason to make out that she was better than me so lied about my results (even though most people who didn't get all level 5's did because, and quite rightly so, we didn't think it was anyone else's business). I did also cheat in my maths exam (I blame it on the fact I was never good at maths and they sat me next to one of the girls in my class who was absolutely amazing at maths - but seriously, don't cheat in your exams because it never ends well). But apart from the lying and the cheating, I would say I did quite well.
When I had just turned eleven, it was coming to the end of netball season and also the end of my time in the under 11's team. At the end of every season, we would have a mini awards ceremony after our last training session, where our head coach would give out prizes for: most improved player; player of the season; and coaches player of the year. I, along with my friend, received the award for player(s) of the season. We got a trophy which was made out of glass, which has always been my most prized possession. However, when I was fifteen, my Mum was redecorating my room and had put the trophy on the dining room table, on the end, which resulted in her accidentally knocking it off the table and onto the floor, resulting in the trophy smashing into pieces. It is still in pieces now as whenever I try to glue it together, it always ends up falling apart again. But despite that happening, it is still a great achievement of mine and probably the one I am most proud of.
In year 8 I auditioned for my school show. They were doing The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, and my part of the audition was for Lucy. I don't know why I auditioned for this as I can't act or sing (it was a musical) and I wouldn't be surprised if the teachers holding the auditions started laughing once I was out of the room (to be honest, I wouldn't have blamed them if they started laughing while I was in the room). I was auditioning with another girl who was playing the part of Mr. Tumnus. I don't think it also helped that I have never actually watched the film, so didn't actually have any idea what was going on. It's pretty safe to say that I didn't get the part of Lucy (or any part for that matter), which kind of worked out for the best as rehearsals were on at the same time/day as my school netball practice, and I would much rather be playing netball than performing in a show. But even though I didn't get a part in the play, I am proud of myself for even auditioning because standing up in front of a crowd of any size is a big deal for me and for me to be able to do that makes me unbelievably proud of myself.
When I was thirteen, I was still doing swimming lessons. The last thing I did in order to get my very last swimming badge was that I had to swim thirty-two lengths of the pool in under twenty-five minutes. Not only this but we had to do four different types of swimming strokes: breaststroke; front crawl; backstroke; and a stroke of my choice, so I chose to do front crawl again. Each type of stroke had to be done over eight lengths of the pool and I managed to do all of this in twenty-three minutes. This makes me proud because I know it is definitely not something that I could do now and it was something where I couldn't always take even just a minute to do one length of the pool because then I would have gone way over the time limit.
In years 9 and 10, I was put forward to trial for my county netball team. My first year was for the under 14's team and I was put forward by my PE teacher (which apparently wasn't allowed because I was already part of my town netball club) and I think they had already written me off before the end of the trials. A year later when I trialled, it was for the under 16's team, which went slightly better because after the original trials had finished, they asked me to trial again the same day; which is what they essentially do with the people who they haven't fully made their minds up with. But I still didn't get onto the team. But I can still live with the fact that I gave it my all and at the end of the day that's all that really matters.
Year 11 was a big year for me. Not only was I leaving school, but I also had to start applying for colleges and sixth form's to attend for the next two years. On top of all of this, I also had to sit my GCSE's. I had already done an exam in year 9 and two exams in year 10 (I got a C in all of them), but these exams in year 11 particularly mattered as they involved maths and English and were probably the main exams I needed in order to be able to take the A-Levels I wanted to take. I didn't get my target grades (they were mostly A's and this was definitely unachievable) but I did manage to get 4 B's (including in Spanish, which was a subject I didn't revise for) and 6 C's. Looking back on it now, I probably could have revised a bit more and done better, but you can't change the past and I still did the best I could given how much I had revised.
Also in year 11, I took part in DofE (also known as the Duke of Edinburgh Award). Sure, I didn't actually finish the award, but I did, however, take part in all three expeditions. These were probably the most physically and mentally challenging things I have ever had to do in my life and are definitely not something I would ever do again. I will never forget coming home from the last expedition and I could hardly walk. I had to do an army crawl up the stairs in order to get to my room so I could have a shower and I had blisters all over my toes (including blood blisters). It was a good experience though and is an amazing thing to be able to put on your CV, making me kind of wish I had actually fully completed it. To be fair, I did do the physical and volunteering aspect of it, I just never got these signed off and also never did the learning a new skill part. I wasn't really given that much guidance on it and also really struggled to find the time to be able to do it amongst my exams. But I am still proud of myself for even taking part in the first place and I would highly recommend any of you reading this to do it if you are given the opportunity to.
When I was seventeen, as most seventeen-year-olds in the country do, I started to learn how to drive. Admittedly, I did only start learning when I was closer to eighteen than seventeen, but I still managed to take the plunge and actually arrange to start taking lessons, which for me is an achievement in itself. But not only that, but I also managed to pass my theory and practical test FIRST TIME. I was shocked about the theory because I had been practising and practising but had only ever just about passed the multiple-choice questions or failed it and had always failed the hazard perception test. So to have got really high marks on both was a great achievement. And to have only got six minors on the practical test (one of which almost caused me to fail - I hesitated at a junction and was apparently two seconds away from failing if I hadn't of moved off when I did) was a great achievement for me as I was convinced I had failed massively.
But just before I took my practical driving test, I had to sit my A-Level exams and had received my results. I took psychology, health and social care, and history for A-Levels and got C, C, B, in those subjects respectively. Revising for those exams was probably one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life, particularly as psychology was 100% exams and no coursework involved and it has always been the exams that I have really struggled with. For example, I got a U in my AS-Level health and social care exam, something I am not proud of but I was still able to get a C overall in year 12 and then again at the end of year 13 so I guess that doesn't really matter. But to do much better than I, or anyone else for that matter, could expect is a great achievement of mine.
My next and final achievement is university. Sure, the university I go to isn't a Russell Group uni, but the fact I am even there is an achievement in itself. But not only that, so far I have five firsts under my belt and at the end of last year, my overall grade was a 2:1. Not only this but so far two of my assignments have involved doing a group presentation. Having anxiety makes standing up and talking in front of people quite a difficult thing for me to do, so for me to not only do this but also achieve a 2:2 in my first presentation and a first in the last presentation I did, along with being told that I delivered each presentation with confidence is an amazing achievement of mine.
One of my dreams to have achieved within the next twenty years is to have children. I do not necessarily want to be married because at the moment I cannot even envisage that happening and do not really see the point in marriage (for me at the least) but having children is something I have always wanted. I'm not sure what it is but I am always longing to be pregnant and to have my child grow inside me and I think that being able to (hopefully) look at my child(ren) one day and be able to think to myself that I made them, grew them inside me, and have made them into the (hopefully) beautiful people that they end up being, will be an incredible achievement and one I can cherish forever. And even if I can't have children the 'normal' way, just to be able to foster or adopt, have IVF, or have children through a surrogate will be options that I will greatly consider doing.
Another dream of mine is to be able to buy a house. I know in this day and age, this is becoming more and more difficult to do because house prices are extortionate, especially compared to how much people are earning making it difficult for them to be able to put down a deposit on a house alone. But I don't want to be renting because I want to be able to have that freedom of owning a house and being able to paint the walls whatever colour I want and just do anything I want with it in general without being told I can't by the person I rent off. I do have a help to buy ISA, and currently, there is nowhere near enough money in that for me to even be able to think about looking at houses or putting down a deposit, but at least I have that and it is there for when I do (hopefully) use it.
I also have a dream of being in a loving and trusting relationship. I have only ever been in one relationship in my life and I would say I was in love with him and even though deep down I knew I could trust him, due to me having trust issues and not really being in a great place to be in a relationship, that relationship soon broke down. But I just hope that one day I can be in a good place to be able to trust someone and know that they feel the same way about me as I do about them and for me to know that we can (potentially) spend the rest of our lives together. I've had too many relationships break down around me for that to actually happen to me. I'm out here looking for a long AND good time because not all long-term relationships are boring and it's not just having a one night stand that is a bit of fun, being in a long-term relationship can be fun too.
My next dream is to be in a good job. I am currently in my second year of studying early childhood and currently have the mindset of one day becoming a health play therapist. I am still a long way off that as I need at least a couple of years of experience of working with children full time. It may take some time to get there but this is something I have been considering doing for a couple of years and if I find it isn't the job for me then I can always go on to do something else. But as long as I am in a job that I am happy with that has relatively good pay, I think I will be okay.
My final dream is to be moving forward with my mental health problems. I currently have anxiety and depression and have gone through some pretty dark times, where I thought I would never make it to the next thirty minutes, let alone make it to twenty years of age. But here I (almost) am, and these mental health problems are something I have been wanting to solve for at least the last five years, but still struggle to do something about. I hope that in the next twenty years I get the courage to be able to go to the doctors, or at the very least actually openly say to someone 'I am struggling, please help me' as my struggles with mental health have only ever been shared on here, on my last blog, on twitter, and on Instagram. I think for me to be able to do this would be my greatest achievement of all time.
So there are my accomplishments over the last twenty years and what I dream to have accomplished over the next twenty years. I would love to know about anything you have accomplished so far in your life, and what you hope to have accomplished in the next twenty years. So please let me know and here is to the next twenty years of mine and yours' lives.
Love Beth xx