On several occasions recently the situation has arisen where I have been made to feel a bit out of my depth (not intentionally by anyone, except myself). And it all boils down to the fact that I am not an academic, I am a 'could have been'.
I left secondary school with my place at college firmly set and aspirations of university after that but during the summer holidays I found a job, nothing grand, it was an office junior position and it paid money...all ideas of college and university were thrown out of the window in exchange for the folding green stuff.
To be fair what followed was a fabulously interesting career which included Chelsea Flower show stints, long stays in Park Lane hotels, visits to loads of posh and expensive London restaurants and even a visit to Stringfellows (entertainment for customers honestly...). And culminated in me becoming the Personal Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer of an international consumer electronics company, a position I have held now for the past 24 years, not too shabby for a 'could have been'.
Do I regret the decision I made at the tender age of 16? No...Because every decision I have made in my life whether it seemed good or bad at the time has led me to where I am now and I would not wish to be anywhere else.
But...it does lead me occasionally to feel a little bit like the 'Learn the ABC' book misfiled on a shelf full of Shakespeare's work. And it shouldn't.
I left school with a handful of 'O' levels and a bunch of typing certificates, I can read, I can write and I can hold an intelligent conversation (occasionally).
I am well read, in fact I read a lot; Pratchett (of course), light hearted and funny sci fi books, vampire and witch lit, right through to the classics such as Conan Doyle, Lewis Carroll and Dickens.
Three years ago I was propelled into the world of book writing and since then have been lucky enough to have had a heap load of books published, but they are what I call 'talkative' text, I write as if I am speaking to you sitting around a kitchen table with a cuppa. They are not academic by any means and actually I wouldn't want them to be, I don't want people to have to read my books alongside a dictionary to decipher the big words.
But does that mean I couldn't write an intellectual and 'grown up' article? In the past I have shied away from any such idea believing that I wouldn't be able to. I might not have letters after my name or a bunch of 'A' levels (I do have my cycling proficiency certificate...) but do you know what? I reckon I could.
I think we spend an awful lot of time as human beings telling ourselves that we can't do something or that we wouldn't match up to others or meet certain standards but I think we are doing ourselves a great injustice.
No, I am not an academic in this 'trouser leg of reality' but I like to think out there in another space time continuum there is another me that went to college and university and is now a high powered business woman with an billion pound empire or a Professor of archaeology somewhere on an incredibly exciting dig...but she isn't me and I bet she hasn't achieved anywhere near the amount of amazing things I have in my own 'leg' of reality...
Never underestimate yourself and what you can achieve if you put your mind to it.
Now pass me the dictionary, I need to write a dissertation...