Would you believe me if I told you that I only went to university because a man on a train told me to? Well, you better start believing it, because it’s true.
I wouldn’t listen to anyone. My parents, my boyfriend, my work colleagues, my friends, their suggestions all fell on deaf ears. I’d spent my whole life in the education system, I’d come out with some very good grades but I’d had my first taste of real money and felt a nagging urge to buck the system and diverge from the path that was laid out for me.
University seemed like the inevitable next step, GCSE’s, A-Levels, Uni. All my friends were going, in fact, they went a year before me, whilst I chose to spend a year working in my local Tesco. Telling myself that I was on my ‘gap year’ that the money was all for travelling when in reality I spent it on food, wine and clothes. I had nothing to show at the end of my year. I’d quickly climbed the Tesco ladder, so to speak, and was even being offered a position on a fast track management scheme, something now I’m so relieved I didn’t go for, but at the time felt like a fast track to more money than I’d ever had. I couldn’t see the wood for the trees, I was focusing on instant gratification rather than a much larger end picture, and despite so many people telling me this, it was you, man on the train, that finally got through to me.
I wish I could find you and say thank you.
Thank you for sitting opposite us that day, for asking us if we minded you smoking your e-cigarette, for then telling me how valuable a degree would be for me, how I could always go back to a Tesco management scheme when it was all over, and that those three years would make such a difference to my life.
Thank you for telling me that it would all be worth it, for persuading me that a degree was something worth having and that further education is always something worth pursuing.
Three years later and I’m about to graduate from Kings College London with a Classics degree, and it is all thanks to you man on a train.
Thanks to you I now have my whole life ahead of me and a degree under my belt. Thanks to you, I now have a job, a flat and a life in central London with a world of possibilities at my fingertips.
So thank you, man on the train, from myself and my family, you changed the path that I walked on, and it’s so much more beautiful than I could have imagined.