Ten Year Old Michael

Throughout this crazy year otherwise known as 2020 I have been amazed at all the amazing acts of kindness, work ethic and overall determination of everyday people in this country. From people like Captain Sir Tom Moore who raised over £30 million for the NHS to all the NHS, Social Care, emergency services, teachers, shop workers and many more who have kept the country going during this pandemic. You have all shown why we are living in Great Britain.

Normally in December I write a post reflecting on the current year, what I have achieved and how it has developed me as a person. This year will be different. During the first lockdown I was listening to the radio when a segment really struck me. It was an interview with a teacher who had written a letter to his ten-year-old self and what the next eighteen years would bring him. Then on Wednesday when England’s second lockdown ended Liam Payne who was in the band One Direction was on the radio for the same reason, writing to his ten-year-old self to let himself know what the next seventeen years would bring. As I was listening to both, I started thinking about what I was like at ten years old, what has happened to me in the twenty-six years to make shape me into who I am at thirty-six. Below is what I managed.

Dear Michael,

I wish I could tell you that the next twenty-six years will be easy and that all your dreams have come true, but I would be lying to you. What I can tell you is that at thirty-six you have overcome many challenges both personally and professionally. Some of these challenges will be easy, others will take many years to overcome, however I can guarantee you that you will overcome them all and become a better person because of them. It is the challenges in life that teach us the most about ourselves.

Already your life has changed. You are ten years old and you have moved from your home- town of Weston- Super- Mare to Swindon. You are about to start at a new Primary school for year Six. In a year’s- time you will move on to Secondary School. For now, you are the new kid in school, it is not easy however you also have your older sister with you in the same position, so you already know one person.  You started learning how to play the guitar when you were nine which gives you something to talk about when making new friends. You also try getting into football as another way of making friends. It works however by the end of the school year you realise that football is not for you. Do not worry about it, although football is England’s most popular sport there are plenty of people who are not interested in it. As you get older you take an interest in individual sports over team sports anyway.

At eleven years old your life is about to change again and in a big way. You move on from Primary school and begin Secondary school. In Primary school you have one teacher and one class for all subjects. In Secondary school you have a different teacher for each subject and change rooms for each subject. You also have to make new groups of friends again as some of the friends you made the year before went to a different Secondary school. In Secondary school your Introverted nature becomes more dominant although by fifteen you begin to over-come this. One constant through this time is your guitar lessons, which you keep up with all the way through school. The same year you started Secondary school; the Music teacher started putting on concerts for students to perform in. There were three concerts a year at the end of each term and you play guitar for at least one song in each one of the concerts before the new Deputy Head cancels them in 1999. Two big events happen to you in year Ten. You find your passion for weight training when you start circuit training in the school gym. You always had an interest in weight training from a young age watching Olympic Weightlifting, boxing, and professional wrestling. You start lifting weights to help improve your swimming ability, however you soon realise that weightlifting is what you really enjoy. Secondly you go on two family holidays. You spend a week in Portugal and then spend two weeks in Florida. In Florida you go to all the Disney parks, Universal Studios, the Kennedy Space Centre in Cape Canaveral and finally you go to the Everglades.

During your last year of school some more events occur which bring with them new challenges. You reconnect with family members you previously have not seen much since moving to Swindon. You leave school with average grades before going to College and in the summer holidays you get a weekend job at the leisure centre your favourite band name themselves after.

It is during the five years you work at The Oasis that you form friendships with people you remain friends with for life. Besides your best friend from Primary school and family friends, the people you meet in this time frame are the people you have the longest friendships with. At the Oasis you start off working in the café on weekends while you are at College, then become a full time Lifeguard while studying to become a Fitness Instructor. Shortly after you began weight training you find what you want to do as a career. Working at the Oasis your gym training changes from circuit training to bodybuilding training. When you are twenty you train for a Natural Bodybuilding competition. In the end you do not compete though as your mental health begins to struggle in the last four weeks before the show. As good as people around you are saying you look, you realise your mental health is more important. At twenty-one you make a life changing decision. You qualify as a Fitness Instructor, however there are not any positions in the gym at the Oasis for you to apply for. For you to pursue your dream job you make the decision to move back to your place of birth.

At twenty-one you move to York, your place of birth and soon realise that qualifying as a Fitness Instructor was the easy part. Finding somebody willing to give you a job is the hard part as all the gyms you apply for jobs at want instructors with experience and have no response when you point out that as a newly qualified instructor you need people willing to give you the job to gain experience. It is not completely hopeless though. On your second day in York, you visit the local leisure centre near your Dad’s house and enquire about any vacancies in their gym. They inform you that they had recently taken on a new Fitness Instructor however they did have Lifeguard vacancies. Although it is not what you wanted you accept the Lifeguard job and work in the gym when you can. You apply two more times to work in the gym at the leisure centre you are working as a Lifeguard at when a vacancy becomes available. Both times the job is given to an external candidate who later leaves. Do not be discouraged as they eventually offer you a full- time temporary contract in the gym for maternity cover which you accept.

Four months before your twenty-third birthday two important events happen in your life. You book and pay for plane tickets to Japan taking you closer to your dream of traveling Japan, and you meet an amazing woman who you have a five- year relationship with. Although it does not work out, she helps you in more ways than I can describe, and you will always be grateful for that help. Three weeks before your twenty-third birthday you land in Tokyo. At thirty-six I can assure you it is the most amazing city you have visited. You spend four day’s in Tokyo before riding the Bullet Train to Hiroshima. In Hiroshima you visit the Peace Park, a war memorial and museum built on the spot where America dropped the first Atomic bomb. There is still one building left that barely survived the attack. What astonishes you the most is the fact that the bomb dropped on Hiroshima was a prototype. The bomb dropped on Nagasaki afterwards was the real one. After three days in Hiroshima, you move on to Kyoto for five days, then Osaka for another five days in which you take day trips to Kobe and Nara before returning to Tokyo for the remaining two weeks of your month in Japan. Two nights before your twenty-third birthday you climb Mount Fuji. You climb through the night and reach the top ten minutes before sun rise, allowing you to see the event.

On your return to England after achieving your dream of visiting Japan you continue to work at the local leisure centre which leads to you getting the temporary full-time contract in the gym for maternity cover. Your last two years in York will test you mentally, at times you begin to question if moving to York was the right thing to do. You do not realise it at the time, however moving to York allowed you to travel Japan, gave you the chance to work your dream job even if it was by covering sickness, annual leave, and maternity cover. It also allowed you to reconnect with your younger brother, see your younger sister when she joined the gym you were working in and form life- long friendships with your older brother’s friends.

At twenty-six you move to Lincolnshire when you successfully apply to study a Foundation Degree at the University Centre Grimsby. It is at University where you discover that you have Dyslexia and Scopic Sensitivity. All through school you think you are thick, however now you understand why you found reading and writing difficult. You initially move to the small market town of Louth where you work in the gym of the Best Western Hotel chain. This leads to you getting a part time position as a Fitness Instructor in the then brand-new council leisure centre, however you move to Grimsby for the last year of your Foundation Degree. The last year of University proves to be the most difficult as you juggle a full time University course, virtually full-time job at the gym you are working in as well as work placement. This leads to you not really having a day off and the five-year relationship you were in comes to an end. The end of your relationship forces you to come to terms with the struggles you have had with Anxiety and Depression since Secondary school. You settle down in Louth where you are officially made full-time at the gym you are working in. The next four years you gain more experience as a Fitness Instructor and begin to help the Exercise Referral Instructor with his clients. You help two members who are recovering from having a Stroke. Both had the second highest categories of Stroke and both taught you more about the human body then any course could. You also start training as a professional wrestler and shortly before your thirtieth birthday you wrestle in a local show, achieving another dream. You also meet your favourite wrestler when your Mum purchase two tickets for his latest tour of England. Despite the saying, “Never meet your hero’s” you are not disappointed. Despite his reputation for being bitter he takes the time to talk to everybody who came to see him. People say he is bitter because he speaks honestly about is career and always seems to be asked the same questions about one incident. Out of all the people involved in the, “Montreal Screw Job” Bret Hart is the only person whose version of events is consistent.

At thirty-two your life changes again. The county council cut the funding for the Exercise Referral program leading to you being made redundant. At the time you will be frustrated as you know how hard you have worked, however with time you understand that the Management had to make difficult decisions and it was not personal. You take a temporary job as a Care Worker for six months before being offered a Sales job in Swindon for a private gym chain. There is one issue though, they want you to start in a week’s- time. This means you have one week to move 230 miles and start a new job. Luckily, your older sister is still living in Swindon and lets you stay with her while you find your own place to live. 2017 proves to be another challenging year. The week before Christmas 2016 you started a new job and moved 230 miles on a weeks’ notice only to be let go when the gym fails to reach its January sales target. Again, you are frustrated as you made the most sales, selling more memberships on your own then the rest of the sales team put together. You begin to wonder why you even bother moving back to Swindon after eleven years away. You take a series of temporary jobs however in 2018 it all changes. You take a part time job as a Fitness Instructor working in the leisure centre you spent most weekends at when you were in school. This leads to a full-time position and you get nominated for the customer service award. In 2018 your older sister moves to Barcelona, where she still lives today. In 2019 you get promoted to Duty Manager and transfer to another leisure centre in Swindon and still work their today. In 2018 you are an Usher and Witness at your older brother’s wedding and use your original sir name again. When you are eight you take on your then Stepdad’s sir name, even when your Mum and Stepdad’s marriage ends in 2008 you continue to use his name for a further ten years, however you now feel the time is right when you change back to your birth name. The person you feared telling is also the most understanding.

Michael you will face many challenges throughout your life. You raise over £500 for Alzheimer’s Society when you shave all your shoulder length hair and beard in 2015. You also raise a further £100 for the same charity when you and your older brother complete a twenty-six mile walk that same year. In 2019 you take part in your first Olympic Weightlifting competition. You will have professional, social, and personal challenges which you overcome and become a better person for them. People will doubt you at every stage of your career and life. That is fine as the more people doubt you the more determined you will be to prove them wrong, which you will.

Always remember to be confident but not arrogant. Always tell the truth even if it gets you in trouble. Be kind but not a push over. Stand up for your self without being a bully. Be true to yourself and ignore the doubters. It does not matter how long it takes you to achieve your dreams. So long as you learn from your mistakes you will achieve all your dreams. If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.

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