So, tomorrow is one year since my blog hit off, when I was at an event called Lead Up. I thought I might, in celebration of the anniversary of what was really the inception of my blog as it is today, take you through the last year of my life.
So, we start of with Lead Up last summer, which is a Scripture Union’s (SU) second half of training and preparing young people for working on projects with SU at home and abroad. This half of the training focuses on preparing the trainee’s in leading a group spiritually, health and saftey, well being of children AND team members, not to mention 101 practical things and putting you through stress and making sure you know how to cope.
I really think that Lead Up was a week that really kicked off the last 364 days for me, it set me up for the summer, but more than that, it revitalised what had been a flagging and unmotivated faith.
From Lead Up I went to work, at a small hotel known to locals as “The Craggan”. Working here tested me in many ways, I was challenged physically, working 60-70 hour weeks for a while, and cycling the ~6 miles to and from work. I was challenged on an emotional level as well, working in a kitchen is hot, stressful work or cold and boring. Often switching between with hardly a moments notice, going from having spent an afternoon staring out the window to dealing with 60 odd customers and a chef with a temper on a short, short fuse is very difficult.
I learnt a lot about self-control, the danger signs for somebody about to lose your temper, and generally how to tell somebody looked before they performed an act of extreme physical violence – rat tailing a waiter.
Working at The Craggan I was able to pay off my overdraft from first year, and pay my way to camp, first at Kings Cross on Arran, which was a hugely positive experience. I was working with another leader called Tim, with the amazing group of boys, they where quiet, tidy (scarily tidy), respectful and just the best kids you could imagine! Thinking back on them I can’t help but smile.
Working with the boys, and with Tim I picked up quite a lot about how to interact with children in a relaxed and responsible manor – before when working with children I’d felt under a surprising amount of tension, yet not acted as responsible as I should have.
I went straight from this camp to a second one, at Lendrick Muir, which is one of my favourite places in the whole world, almost all of my memories from there are positive, even the negative ones seem petty and foolish on reflection – who cares that what’s-her-name said no when I asked her out when I was 12?
The second group of kids I had where really nice a well, a little older, and quite different from the first, I feel I really struggled to connect with them, and in reflection feel I did a fairly poor job as a leader for my group. I think it was too early for me to be flying solo, without a senior leader working closely with me as Tim was I feel my priorities weren’t quite right and I let myself down.
They did however, ask me a lot of awkward questions about revelations, which I managed to either answer them or got them to write down and hopefully they remembered to ask their church leader when they got home (it was the last group time when I was ambushed with the difficult questions).
I had another few weeks of living with my parents before university started, which is quite challenging, going back to living under another person’s set of rules, and systems can be very difficult, especially after a year of freedom and laziness.
I started back at university and was travelling quite far into uni every day, and although my intentions of high attendance and hard work went well for the first week – oh wait, no they didn’t. Although I made it to the first few days I certainly wasn’t working hard at any point.
I ended up failing one of my classes – design with CAD, and have had to resubmit the course work for that. Although I did pass my other classes they where poor performances, and I didn’t do myself justice, a lack of discipline was
part of that pretty much all of that.
During the term though, I moved out of my child hood home, and into a flat with my older brother and sister. Our flat as been dubbed “Your Pants” so that we could have “parties in Your Pants” and make other such jokes.
Some people think if they just pursaded their parents to move out, living with their brothers and sisters would be a dawdle. It is not. Safe in the knowledge that neither of my siblings read my blog I can tell you that I am a terrible flatmate, and readily accept that. I feel that I have improved in some ways, I will generally do my share of the housework, and my own dishes etc, although when pestered about it I tend to tell them to jog on and then put it back down at the bottom of my to-do list.
New Year came round, and it was quite a pleasant evening, dancing the night away in the church hall with good friends is always fun. The Christmas holidays finished, and I started back at Uni for my second term, by now I had started helping with a SU group at a local primary school, and was hosting (although not leading) the CU’s small group in the flat on Mondays.
I had my second term exams, which went surprisingly well! I passed everything even managing 61% in maths, which is pretty remarkable because I’m sure my attendance was on the lower side of 39% ( Working on the rule of thumb that your attendance percentage is directly proportional to your exam and course work percentages).
Not long after sitting the exams I went on another SU camp, this one an easter camp, was lead by a different team from my previous ones at Lendrick Muir, and the change in style wasn’t too hard to get to grips with. My group however was the most challenging in a few ways, but also the most rewarding.
In reflection, while I feel that I struggled most with this group, it also caused me to get to know them better, and while I didn’t have it all my own way I connected slightly more with these guys then I had my previous group.
Since then I bummed around in Edinburgh for almost a month, before returning the the north of nowhere to return to work in The Craggan, which is a much more pleasant experience, with a different team of staff, the feeling is more relaxed and more professional, and I enjoy my work a lot more.
During all of that I some how managed to start a relationship which has actually lasted – and is lasting. My girlfriend Eilidh has helped me through so much! So, this is really just a shout out to her, and all the support she’s given me in everything (positive) that I do. (Sappy I know, but I definitely am getting brownie points for that.)
I’ve also managed to keep this blog breathing – just about, and that is probably one of my greater achievements over the year, with my next hit marking 3000 views. My work through Genesis is coming to a close, with just a handful of chapters left to go!
It is quite strange, looking back through the last year, thinking about what has changed about last summer compared to this summer, and the biggest differences are probably these :
I am taller, broader, faster, wiser, smarter, happier and most importantly closer to God than I was a year ago. If I manage to improve each of those every year for the rest of my life it will mean two things – One, I’m a medical mystery, and second that perhaps I will have learnt enough about life to say, and know that Life, is not a mystery.
Thanks for reading.