The First Step

My thanks to our leader Rochelle for being here every week, whether the road is rocky or smooth we follow wherever she leads.

Thanks also to Amy Reese for the photo this week.

15 January

Copyright – Amy Reese

Genre: Memoir

Word Count: 100

The First Step

I smile, accepting their mild applause.  I’ve been out of my comfort zone in front of this class of restless fifth form girls, delivering a talk entitled – ‘Succeeding as a Woman in Business.’ Questions follow. Though I am enthusiastic, questioning their reasoning, hoping to provoke engagement, the poverty of aspiration astounds me.

Struggling to understand their attitude, I walk towards my car.  Tamara, the quiet girl who said she wants to be a hairdresser, stops me.

‘My family’s been out of work for years. How can I be any different?’

I tell her she has just taken the first step.


I attended a local school, at the invitation of the Head of Business Studies, to speak to fifth firm girls about my story, how I got to where I am. The girls’ lack of aspiration that day still concerns me.


24 thoughts on “The First Step

    • This is a huge problem in lots of places, but the valleys of South Wales have never recovered from the loss of coal and steel. Some children I talked to, have no-one from whom they can learn a work ethic as in some cases the last two generation have been without work. It is truly tragic and people have been saying since 1936 that something must be done – but where do we start?

      Thanks for reading and for your comments Sandra 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Wow! This one really hit home with me. I asked a young woman recently, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” She readily admitted she had no clue, and with the shrug of her shoulders, indicated she really didn’t care. This poverty of aspiration is growing into an epidemic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Russ. I honestly find it very worrying and sad that in this day of endless possibilities, some young women seem incapable of grasping every opportunity to succeed .


  2. Moving story and good to read something bang up to date and addressing real issues.
    As a teacher I would say don’t take everything at face value – teenagers are supposed to act cool. You could have really made a difference to an individual but never know it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great and inspiring story from beginning to end. The line “The poverty of aspiration…” that is worth contemplating. An often forgotten aspect of poverty, it’s not only about the money. You’re absolutely right. Without hope, ambition is difficult to achieve.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The girls were between 15/16 at the time I was there. Unless they had good enough qualifications to sit their ‘A’levels and go on to sixth form, they would leave school at the end of the school year.


      • That seems so young. Here children graduate at an average age of 18. Even that is too young for some to go forth. Families with the means can encourage them to go on to college, even a community college can sometimes help get them to the level of maturity necessary to plan a future. Families with fewer means are less encouraging. Combine that with young people who lack focus and you can easily see why these young people are adrift and stay that way. It used to be that manufacturing jobs would pick up a lot of these people but those jobs have been shipped over seas and it is been left up to the service industry to employee them. I could go on and on but I think I have said enough, except for good on you for trying to influence local youth to do something!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I am steeling your phrase “poverty of aspiration”. It perfectly expresses what frustrates me with today’s (not all, of course) youth. I know we are to blame for making their lives too easy…
    Really well done!


  5. Good story based on reality, Dee. Children learn from those closest to them. When I was teaching years ago I had one boy who didn’t want to work hard in school. His excuse was that his uncle would help him get a job in a local rubber shop so why should he worry. Now a lot of those jobs have dried up or moved out of that city. Those people had moved there from states where the coal mines were shutting down. It’s hard to teach them differently when they follow the example of relatives. They need strong outside influences to lead where they’ll follow, heroes for them to emulate. They need field trips, etc. to show them it’s possible and something to strive for but it’s not easy to convince them. Well done, Dee. —- Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

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