It’s exam time. The coffee shop is full of young people with papers, notebooks and highlighter pens. Studying seems to be so much fun than it used to be. Although it must be said that some of these conversations do actually seem to be about course work.
Kileen and I spent many long hours in the library, thinking we were studying. We managed to spend a fair bit of time organising our social lives, eyeing up the men, and gossiping. Would it be different now that we’re grown up, responsible and uninterested in young men? We’d work more effectively. We’d know to spend less time reading and more time thinking. We’d write essays that actually made sense, develop arguements, make confident presentations.
Now that I’m grown up I wouldn’t choose a degree subject simply because I’d quite liked it at school. I’d find out a bit more about the outside world, what interested me, what I’d like to do for years ahead. Without ever planning to do so, I ended up working for a criminal justice charity for 15 years. Had health permitted I may have been there yet. Kileen, sharper than I, is still has a career she actually trained for! Dawnriser knew the value of focus and determination even then, while I, flighty Gemini, remain curious but easily bored and in possession of only a superficial knowledge of a range of things.
A quick glance at the website of the local university let me identify the course I’d like to do now. It’d be fascinating- time to consider issues around crime, welfare, benefits, disability, gender. Helping me to explain what interests me and put that into a wider context. Helping me to understand something about the ‘system’, so I can learn to influence it. Not that I have energy, money or serious inclination to do it, but had I, that’s what I’d do now.
The opportunities for development outside the limits of the course or university confines are much greater than in Belfast of the 1980s. I look at the young people in the coffee shop and hope that they are grabbing all the chances they can, aiming high and choosing not to be confined.
Wouldn’t you love to say that to them and freak them out?
“Why do I always get the weird old woman to, like, talk to me?”