Despite feeling like you’re an adult who knows exactly what they want out of life, nothing compares to the absolute lack of surety you feel when you’re a teenager. Attempting to navigate the treacherous terrain of trying to be cool in front of your peers and worrying about what the hell your body is getting up to without your consent. We’ve all been there.
Having spent the entirety of my life finding any quiet minute I could to devour a book or write something, I promptly ditched all of my life passions at fourteen in favour of boys, pretending to smoke in the toilets, and making terrible fashion choices. When you’ve got your whole existence stretched before you, gloriously drenched in optimistic youth, you don’t need to think about anything as serious as that.
So I didn’t. Well, until one of the greatest teachers I’ve ever had came into my life anyway.
I sometimes wonder how often teachers get to hear about the impact they’ve had on their students. Honestly, I highly doubt Mr McNaughton remembers even delivering the lesson that basically paved the way for everything I chose to do thereafter. Maybe he’d be shocked to learn that the few English lessons he covered were capable of causing me to fall back in love with writing (admittedly not before my teenage years were done, however) and led to my discovery of everything I now hold dear.
Mr McNaughton reminded me what it’s like to write simply because you enjoy it, he validated the importance and power that I already bestowed on words, and he gave me permission to question the world and everything in it. As a young person, when you see the thing you derive joy from being a source of happiness for an adult human being who actually knows what they’re doing, it’s incredibly inspiring.
It was through his lessons that I decided to study sociology at college, despite never having heard of it before. I craved further opportunities to learn about the way that the world works and turn my knowledge of its existence upside down. It had me hooked immediately so I continued it for the next four years as I worked steadily towards two degrees. Through sociology, I then found feminism, a fundamental piece of my identity that I’d now be lost without and a part of my life that has become an equal passion to writing.
Thanks to him, I came back to writing for love in my early twenties. This unexpectedly gave way to realising that nothing sets my soul alight quite like writing does, that nothing can carry me through every aspect of life in the unfaltering way that writing can. It led me to this blog and all of the wonderful opportunities that come with it, something I’m not sure would’ve happened if that little spark hadn’t been ignited again.
For a single person to have been so instrumental in the way everything unfolded for me is just unthinkable. I’m positive there will be thousands of us with stories of gratitude just like this one, but it’s nonetheless incredible. Whilst it may have taken years for me to acknowledge and understand this teacher as a positive influence on my life and whilst it’s unlikely he’ll ever know any of this, I just felt compelled to do, well, what I usually do because of him…
…write about it.
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