The following piece was awarded Third Prize in the OU Students Association Freshers writing competition. The author, Tayla, is from Runcorn in Cheshire and is working towards a BA Hons English Language and Literature.
“I’m going to do it, this time I’m really going to do it, follow my dreams and become an English teacher” … I told myself this time and time again but there was always a voice in my head that told me “don’t be silly, you’re not clever enough for that” “you’re too old for studying”. It was a constant battle between wanting to make something of myself and having zero self-belief.
I hadn’t had it easy, I was 18 years old and a mother of 2 children under the age of 5 and one day my whole world came crashing down around me, I suffered a heart attack and needed to have surgery to fit stents to stop this happening again. Surely with this heart condition I would not be able to accomplish my dreams, so yet again I pushed my dreams aside. More heartbreak was to follow , amongst all the excuses, I had more health complications and suffered a further two heart attacks meaning at 21 years of age I needed open heart surgery to perform heart bypass surgery, so again my dreams were pushed further and further away.
I decided enough was enough and I could not let this illness rule my life, so I plucked up the courage to try my hand at a teaching assistant course, and I instantly loved it. I found myself a placement working with children that could not work in mainstreams schools due to behavioural issues and it was great I knew 100% that I had made the correct choice and for once my life was looking great, I had so much to look forward to. I had made a start on my career; my children were happy and healthy, and my own health was improving. For once I had no excuses and I had no doubts, I knew this was exactly where I was meant to be.
One good thing led to another and my life was on the up, I knew I could do this and then I found out I was expecting my 3rd child, perfect. I was over the moon. I knew my pregnancy would never be easy but I was not prepared for the news I was about to receive “ you are in the early stages of heart failure Miss Evans, we need to deliver your baby”. My gorgeous daughter was born at 30 weeks and she was so tiny and so precious, but I knew that she needed me more than I needed my career, so again I gave up all hope of ever becoming more than just a mum, after all that was the most rewarding job in the world.
Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months and before I knew it years had passed by. Life went by and I honestly was so content and so happy. But in 2017, 2 years after being told I had early stages of heart failure I suffered a cardiac arrest. I was so lucky to survive the cardiac arrest and suffer no lasting damage to my brain. The doctors wanted to give me ever fighting chance, so I underwent another operation to fit an internal cardiac defibrillator in my heart. I know I was blessed with a second chance at life and that I should have lived for the moment and made every second count, but how can someone with a broken heart be an English teacher? So yet again the days turned into weeks into months and into years.
2020 was and still is one of the strangest years I have ever encountered, I had to stay at home from work due to having to shield myself and I became a teacher to my children as I was home-schooling them. There it was again, my dream, surely I shouldn’t be thinking about it again, after all every time I had tried to follow it something had happened to show me why I shouldn’t follow it. It grew and grew, and I could not fight it any longer, it was now or never I had to do something. So I got my notebook, pen and laptop and I started looking at my options, I found a teacher training course that looked prefect for me, but as I wanted to teach secondary school children I needed a degree in my chosen subject. I was too old for that now? How would I study a degree, and work and be a mum? Excuses again.
My research led me to the open university and there it was BA HONS English language and literature degree, so I applied. I had applied for my student finance and that was it, done, first step to the rest of my life. Or was it? On 1st July 2020 I suffered another cardiac arrest and was admitted to hospital, there it was, the sign, it was over, I could not do it, maybe it just was not meant to be.
I was exhausted, I had a pile of post that needed opening, but I just could not bring myself to do it, I had no energy. Something told me that I needed to open that post, and I am glad that it did. In that post was a letter from student finance to tell me my application had been successful, it was a sign, life is far too short for the what ifs, the could have been and the maybes. So here I am now in week four of my studies, new notebooks and stationery and the ever-burning desire in my heart to chase my dreams. So here is to the high and the lows and the times I feel like giving up, the times when I excel and the times where I need a little encouragement. This is only the beginning of my journey, but I know it is the exact journey I want to be taking and I am beyond excited to see where it takes me.