What If? – 30 Day Writing Challenge #11

I made decisions that I regret, and I took them as learning experiences… I’m human, not perfect, like anybody else’ – Queen Latifah

I try not have regrets and i very much believe in the saying that every decision you make was the right decision at the time. The one thing in my life that I do from time to time think ‘what if’ about is training to become a nurse.
I had an interview at Northumbria University in May 2000 under what was then called Project 2000 which was a drive to get more people as trained nurses in the NHS. This meant that you got paid to train and spent 80% in a hospital and 20% in a classroom, as opposed to the degree which was 40% hospital and 60% classroom. The Interview couldn’t have gone better and a few weeks later i received a letter with an unconditional offer (meaning it didn’t matter what results I got in my A levels, they wanted me anyway).
Problem was, I was still only 17. Project 2000 had two intakes; one in September and one in March, because I only turned 18 at the end of July, they thought I was a little too young to start training in the September so they deferred me to the March. That was fine, it just meant I had to find something to do with myself for 6 months until my course started.

In that 6 months I found a full time job working on reception at the local newspaper and with that full time job, came a full time wage. The intention was always to work until March then start my course. But as time went on I started to enjoy being in the adult world, having a well paid full time job and i’ll admit it, I liked the money. Stories from my mates at university didn’t fill me with much jealously, I had just as good a social life as them with my new work colleagues and I had money to burn. So when February rolled around, i was sent a letter from the university asking me to confirm i still wanted my place, and i turned it down.

I’m a strong believer in fate and the fact that I’ve worked my way up the corporate ladder in administration within the NHS makes me believe i was always destined to work in healthcare and for the most part, I love my job. I know if I started training now, I would have to do all the crappy night shifts and work over Christmas and miss friend’s weddings and all that stuff. By big ‘what if’ is where would I be in life if i’d been accepted on the September intake? By now i’d have paid my dues and done all those crappy shifts, would probably be quite senior and i’d look a bit like this:

Suits me right? Blue always looked good on me. But as I said, it was the right decision for me at the time; I just couldn’t imagine giving up what I thought was going to be a career in journalism, and all that money, to go back to studying so soon after leaving school. So in that sense at least it’s a ‘what if’ that was my own choice. I could have been a nurse, i just chose not to.

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