In just a few days time I will be in Cape Town, squaring away the last few preps ahead of this perhaps ill thought-out trip around the world. It’s yet to really sink in that I am about to disappear off on my own for a year, with very few creature comforts.
This morning I found myself on stage at my former school, Queen’s College Taunton, briefing the sixth form students on my planned exploits, with the aim of giving them some insight as to the opportunities that they have to undertake challenges other than education and work. For me it was a strange position to be in, for whilst at school I found public speaking, be it reading at the front of the English class room or bumbling my way through French, an extremely difficult and embarrassing endeavour. Fifteen years on it was still a tad daunting to be stood on stage talking to the students. However, I found it to be an enjoyable experience, even if they didn’t.
With the students’ sights on university applications and their looming mock exams, the aim of the talk was, firstly, to promote my adventure, but mainly aimed at giving them some ideas as to the other opportunities they have to develop themselves. Below are a few paragraphs from my “inspirational” talk to give you a taste of what the students had to endure:
“The main idea of this talk today is to give you an example of what other opportunities are out there. The conventional life model is that we are born, we are educated, we work, we retire and we die. A tad simplistic I know and morbid. But this model is changing. Firstly, you’re all going to live past 100. Well, you students are anyway. Which means you have a fair few years work ahead of you. But never fear, the way people work is changing; yes we work longer, but you can have multiple careers in varied industries, and more and more companies are coming around to the fact that people want more out of life.”
“It’s schools such as Queens that give you the opportunity to develop yourselves in more than just academics, be it skiing, which I did whilst I was here, or kayaking in the Artic circle which my eldest brother did. It’s trips like these which probably first opened my eyes to life other than work. “
“Now, adventures don’t need to be on such a grand scale. I’m a big believer in mini adventures over a week or a weekend. They could be simply a weekend walking in the lakes or wild camping on the beach with the obligatory skinny dip at midnight. Nothing is more satisfying than having a cuppa at work on a Monday and chatting about the weekend with your friends/colleagues to find that you are the only one who has done something interesting and that you’ve won the weekend!“
“You have to make your own adventures”
The sixth form at Queen’s were polite enough to sit quietly whist I lectured, but I hope I gave one or two of them some food for thought.
It was a great pleasure to revisit my old stomping ground and see some familiar faces. Mr Andrew Free, my former house master, was kind enough to show me round my old boarding house and chat over a cup of tea or two. And my old rugby coach Mr Phil Mann hasn’t changed a bit. It was great to hear that he undertook a charity cycle around the UK visiting Royal Marines bases across the country ,to raise money in support of our Service men and women; which was by no means a small feat.
All that’s left for me to do is start, so that I can return to Queen’s next year to report on my exploits.