Of Choices and Academia

Of Choices and Academia

If I ramble at all while writing this post (which would be nothing unusual), it’s because I’m listening to the amazingly awesome Zombie Ninja song which I found via Shéa MacLeod’s blog (did I spell that right), and it’s distracting me, but I don’t want to turn it off. Because it’s amazingly awesome.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be an actress and an author. My parents weren’t so sure about the ‘actress’ thing – I’m hardly typical actress appearance, given that I’m small and not stunningly beautiful. Plus, they said I couldn’t act. I think that’s a bit harsh, since I did get a part in the junior play at school in my first term, and had one entire line. I’ve always been good at physical theatre, too, or playing the corpse – I can detach myself from the situation enough not to laugh when people poke me. A massive advantage.

However, by the time I was about twelve I’d changed actress to musician, which was looking a lot more hopeful as I played a couple of instruments already. Author stayed. That’s been there since I was eight and doesn’t show any signs of disappearing, though I’m pretty sure writing full time would drive me insane. Mind you, I think doing anything full time would drive me insane. I hate sticking with the same thing. I like procrastinating and doing other things in between.

Anyway, a couple of years after that I took up Irish dancing and decided I wanted to be a dancer. Six months down the line I’d changed that to dance teacher, and that stuck even when I quit Irish dance and took up ballet instead. A year after that, and we’ve come to present day.

Why am I telling you this?

Well, I’m at that point in time when I’m beginning to think about the future in terms of qualifications – deciding which subjects to study at A-Level, at university, etc. I’m even going to an open day next month, because it’s so late in the year that leaving it until Year 12 would be a stupid idea. It’s the open day for ASNC – Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, only available at Cambridge (irritatingly).

Since it’s only available at one university, the standard application process (one personal statement, a bunch of options) will be tricky, if I decide to go for it. And certainly from everything I’ve read on their website and the bits of the subjects that I know already, it sounds fascinating, and right up my street. I’m not sure about the whole Cambridge thing, that’s all.

And I’m not really sure about the whole academic subject thing. I want to be a ballet teacher. The best ballet teachers have performance experience. Therefore, I’d have to train as a ballet dancer. Where can you do that? Ballet schools – so your degree would be in ballet, and then you’re not an undergraduate any more and you can’t get a student loan to do something else.

A while ago I wanted to study ballet in sixth form instead of staying at school and doing A Levels, but my parents insisted on my doing otherwise. Which was irritating. My brother was allowed to do a BTEC in music because that was all he wanted.  But apparently, I’d be ‘wasting my academic potential’.

It seems to me that being academic closes doors, rather than opens them.

I’ve got almost two years before I need to make up my mind whether I want to study from books or in a studio. In that time I’ll have grown up, changed my mind about things, gone on a ballet summer intensive course, and gone to the ASNC open day (both of these are happening this summer). It probably won’t be as hard a decision to make as it would be if you asked me today.

And yet I can’t see myself EVER being content to do just one thing at a time. But I guess that’s just because my concentration span is approximately two and a half minutes.

10 thoughts on “Of Choices and Academia

  1. Heh, as someone a year ahead of you, I see your predicament. I’m a very one-street girl – an academic, and nothing else, always have been (I can act well enough, and I enjoy singing, but I’m not really good enough at either to make a full career out of them, so I’ve decided to do both on the side of an English degree).

    But, you’re right – GCSE results et al will change so many of your decisions and options. A Level is also a much more enlightening course in terms of what Uni will be like, so your experience there will definitely help you. And if you decide that trying for Cambridge is on the menu, that’ll make two of us (though I’m an Oxford girl, lol).

    Take it one day at a time, and see what lemons you get handed, I say. You have plenty of time yet :)

      1. It’s not that big a difference – you have to work harder, and put your application in sooner, but it’s not all that different. Well, not as far as I can tell :P

  2. Miriam – would you like me to see if the owner of the dance school I go to (as does Fiona) would be willing to talk with you more about being a dance teacher? Maybe e-mails. I know right now she’s super busy because she runs her studio and the recital is at the beginning of next month But… I don’t know, I suspect she might be able to answer some questions for you, if you have them… Still that’s the USA versus the UK so there will be differences, but she can tell you what it’s like being a dance teacher (and she teaches lots of different types of dances & musical theater). I think of you a lot in her studio actually. :} I think it’s that you and her share the same sort of enthusiasm for dance.

    :} Cathryn

    1. It would be interesting to hear a US perspective, although I’m aware of how busy dance teachers always are. I do have some experience as I help teach the youngest classes at my studio on Saturday mornings, everything from showing them the exercises to doing the music :) So I have quite a lot of insight into the profession already!

  3. Hehe, your story sounds kind of like mine – as in, growing up I was always changing my mind about what I wanted to do with my life. Eventually, though, I realized what I most wanted to do was be an author. That’s my biggest dream now. :)

    I think being a dance teacher sounds like a fabulous goal, and I wish you the best of luck! I’m not sure of my opinion on academia opening/closing doors, but I do think that as teenagers we’ve got a lot of pressure on us these days to choose what we want to do FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES, and AS SOON AS WE’RE DONE WITH HIGH SCHOOL, no less. As for me personally, I think I’m going to give myself a bit of a gap between high school and college and go when I know I’m ready for it, instead of as soon as I graduate because that’s what’s expected of teens these days. Am I making any sense? Is this comment relevant? Oh well. :)

    Anyway, good luck with whatever you decide to do, Miriam!

    And PS, I checked out your YouTube channel really quick, and I LOVE your haircut. It’s adorable! (And wasn’t The Fault in Our Stars absolutely incredible?! I didn’t read it QUITE as fast as you did, but oh. My. GOD. I adored it and cried so hard reading it! ;)

    1. Ha ha, thanks for the haircut comment. My hair is ridiculously fluffy today. My dad won’t shut up about me looking like a baby owl…. *growls*
      I know what you mean. The point about being academic closing doors was because people think, “Oh, you can do exams. Okay, do a subject that requires exams.” Well, maybe I can do performances or concerts too, but somehow no. Because I can write essays, I should write essays. They don’t even consider I might not WANT to write essays.

      1. No problem! I love short haircuts; probably why I just got a pixie cut myself. ;) And yours is super cute!

        Yeah, I see what you’re saying. The thing is, people don’t seem to realize that just because something doesn’t require exams or grades doesn’t mean it’s not a worthwhile pursuit. I’m a big believer in following your dreams and doing what you love, so I hope you’re able to follow your passion and become a dance teacher! Hugs!

What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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