Edwina McQueen

Letter To My Younger Self

Dear My Younger Self

Remember when you thought 60 was old? At 16, you wanted the years to fly by. Now, I just wish they would slow down.

It’s not all bad. Being an adult, and all of the freedom that comes with it, it is even better than you imagined. Knowing that you have achieved even more than you ever thought possible. Setting your own schedule to do what you want when you want. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

There are some things I wish you would have done differently. And some things that I wish hadn’t happened to you, but this experience will make you who you are. If only you had known then what you know now. That’s why I’m writing to you!

You don’t know it yet, but after being told you may never walk again and undergoing major back surgery, you struggled to find your place in the world. Your school predicted your GCE grades – they weren’t great! Sixth Form College wouldn’t let you enrol because you were in plaster and a health and safety risk. You felt unsatisfied with life, you wanted to continue learning but this wasn’t looking likely, whilst in plaster at least. Then, to everyone’s amazement you decided to get a job. You enrolled on a Youth Training Scheme with Severn Trent Water as a Data Entry Operator; you finally felt a sense of satisfaction — accomplishment. They gave you a chance and believed in you. Little did you know this was going to be your first step into a lifelong journey of vocational education.

Work hard and be serious about work. It may not seem like a big deal now, but it will later. Get yourself a mentor or a coach and strive to be the best you can be. Be brave, be resilient, be honest and trustworthy. Always keep your promises, live your values and take calculated risks, like the risk you took when you decided to have the operation. It won’t always be an easy journey and you will meet people who will appear more educated on paper than you, but you will gain the qualifications you desire through vocational learning, through experience on the job, which will make you a more rounded and employable person. You will have a great career, be earning and able to afford to travel, you will own your home by the age of 25 and you will save for the future – without the debt of a degree.

You will spend 24 months in plaster, and it will be hard at first with all your friends going to college and university. Although it will feel like it’s not fair, taking a vocational pathway and learning whist you earn will turn out to be the best decision you have ever made, I promise.

It’s in the workplace where you will learn all your skills. How to be confident, be a team player and a great manager, leader, and coach. You will continue to learn and develop new skills through vocational learning. And although it doesn’t seem possible now you will become a Director of City and Guilds, an international vocational awarding organisation, and you will go on to share your story with young people and tell them how your Youth Training Scheme has set you up for life. I am sure it won’t be called YTS by then, it will likely be an Apprenticeship, and who knows you may even be able to do a Degree Apprenticeship – that would be the best of both worlds, how great would that be?

I don’t hold my past decisions against myself although I wish there were some other things I had known. Maybe if you had made some better personal decisions, you would have been a little happier?

Though you probably should have done some things differently like traveled more and experienced work in more organisations, you’re right where you need to be now.

Now, you have a life and career you love, you feel fulfilled and are helping young people just like you, find the life and career they deserve. Who knows, maybe you’ll get there!

Don’t give up, even when you feel like you should. Life gets a whole lot better.

Love your older, wiser self