Passion and Drive



There’s nothing quite as strange as not realising you’re passionate about something. Well, maybe that’s just me.  Now, I’m very much someone with a lot of passing fancies. I’ve been into Mixed Marital Arts, running, gym, fitness, reading, politics, creative writing, travelling… And many other things at various points in my life but one thing I really stuggle with is the commitment to one of those things. I get bored. I don’t want to do it anymore. I stumble and refuse to pull myself back up, though tell that to my face and I’ll argue my case until I’m blue in the face.  

To be honest, I pick up the majority of my ‘passions’ because someone close to me is into it. I have a copy cat personality, or maybe I simply feed off their energy about a subject. Hell, my housemates are extremely included within each of their places of work and I find myself discussing business with them!  

But today I had my first dissertation meeting for my MA. Now, I’ve had countless sleepless nights over this and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed researching it so I wasn’t that worried. However my original plan was to focus on gun crime in the US and the UK. And by that I mean that I wanted to focus on the United States, given their increasingly frequent firearm homocides targetting educational facilities. I had to include the UK on the basis that I’m doing my dissertation within a postgraduate courses which focuses on the welfare state in Great Britain. And despite all of those alnighters in the library, it wasn’t until yesterday that I realised that there was no dissertation within that area. Solely focusing on America, yeh someone could write an entire PhD on that but guncrime within the UK is essentially non existant. It makes up less than 0.2% of homocides each year and the number is falling, in comparison to it rising in the US. We, apparently, boast some of the toughest gun licensing laws in the world… There’s no dissertation in saying how amazing we are, really is there?  

So I went to my first meeting today feeling a little disheartened. I had a vague idea of sticking to the comparison idea and instead asking why the levels of crime were falling in the UK and yet rising in the US. What I came out with was a dissertation looking at how far the schools’ themselves and the education system could be blamed for classroom violence. Though still comparing the US and the UK.  Of course, the fact that my dissertation question completely changed wasn’t a surprise to me- the same thing happened when I was doing my undergraduate degree. I don’t think many people appreciate how wide a topic their question covers until they start getting questions shot at them: But who are you targeting? But who are you looking at? And where will you be looking at? And obviously, I’d accepted that my guncrime idea wasn’t quite sufficent for a 15,000 word dissertation. 

Instead, within a single hour, I had managed to cut through 100 odd different angles that she had thrown at me to one question. It’s a bonus that I can still include gun crime and I can still use the comparison of the two countries, but it also seems much more manageable when faced with 15,000 words.  But that wasn’t the most surprising part. That came when she had stopped throwing questions at me and I started talking- which generally starts happening when I feel an awkward silence building. I ramble on and on, usually going off on a huge tangent and not even answering or acknowledging the question- which I did this time too, since every time I stopped to breath she’d say “so really you want to look at…” And quickly summerise a completely different topic to what we had been discussing. At first I thought that it must be incrediably tiresome listening to me go on. Especially since I was clearly making no sense and usually finished my sentances laughing nervously. But somehow within my notes I managed to string a theme and a sort-of question together as well as a framework. I especially was shocked when she’d refer back to stuff that I had said in my nonsense and agree. I hadn’t meant to say anything clever, I just didn’t like the silence!  

Then she asked me a question that I’ve been asked many times: who was the most influential teacher in your life?  

I already know the answer to that question. My head of sixth form, Mr Kay. I enjoy calling him the ‘shouty’ teacher who demanded respected, and who also very nearly kicked me out of sixth form for trunency, though I can’t deny that I didn’t deserve it. But it was him who sat me down and forced me to apply to university, and it was him who dragged me out of regristration to shut me in his office while he demanded to know if I was willing to commit to A Levels or if I was going to leave right then. I hated sixth form, I was no where near as smart as my peers though I managed to scrape a couple of Ds and Es. But being confronted with the concept of being expelled woke up the primary school good girl in me, the one terrified of causing trouble and getting sent to the head teacher’s office, and the one who was certainly not going to tell her mother that she had dropped out of school and therefore would lose her claim to child benefit. He’s  the reason I’m at university.  

When I finished describing him I was almost in tears, I’m not sure why though… I’ve told the story many times but I don’t think I quite understood the reality of it until now. How different my life would be if I’d followed the same path that many other children, my friends, who were in the same socio-economical position as me had followed by having children during their teens and not going to university. They’re onto their second child, many of them engaged, and I’m here struggling with my Masters. At first she was shocked that the teacher I had began describing as ‘shouty’ and scary was my main influence. Then she acknowledged that clearly my personal experience was extremely influential in my choice of dissertation area. Finally, she told me that she loved my passion, my drive. And that one day, I would be able to take it a step further and influence policies for myself and make the change that I wanted to see in the world. 

Little old me, a world changer.  Now that was the real shock!


2 thoughts on “Passion and Drive

  1. Dang, that was quite a ride! Sounds like a fun (..?) topic to research… I’d be curious to see your findings, it always amused me when English people asked about all our guns over here in the states… it must be a very different world in some ways.

    • Ironically, that’s what me and my dissertation supervisor kept saying- it’s weird calling it a ‘fun’ subject! I’ll definitely post something up though not until I finish in June 🙂 when I was over there for the summer I enjoyed getting to ask questions about it, I can understand the Americans perspective on it and it is a tricky question of gun control really.

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