When I was 17 years old I decided I would apply to Oxbridge. No one else in my family had got a degree but I had achieved all As at GCSE and had been predicted the same spread of grades for my A Levels – I would blaze a trail.
I went to see the careers officer at my tech college to tell her my grand plans.
“Don’t bother,” was the advice, “Oxbridge wouldn’t look at someone like you.”
I slunk away from her desk, embarrassed for voicing my desires. She had only confirmed what I suspected all along. I didn’t apply.
And her counsel left a scar.
For a long time I believed that ‘people like me’ didn’t write books or plays either, even though this was something I had been desperate to do (and had been doing secretly) from when I was very young. Writing was the preserve of the wealthy and the privileged, families with literary legacies and long-established intellectual pedigree. It was not a career for ‘people like me’.
Of course, I know now that this is wrong – no one needs permission to tell their story – but I do know how it can feel to need that permission.
This is the reason I am part of The WoMentoring Project which offers free mentoring by professional literary women to talented up and coming female writers who would otherwise find it difficult to access these kinds of opportunity.
You can visit the scheme’s page here and find a mentor who will give you the confidence to share your story.
Oddly, I shouldn’t regret not going to Oxbridge. I took a different path, one that has provided me with experiences which make my novels and plays uniquely mine. In the same way, the uniqueness of your life means only you can tell your stories too. So do apply…