The concept of time travel has always fascinated me. Movies such as the seminal Back to the future trilogy, the Bill & Ted series and the more recent About Time have always managed to capture my imagination. Likewise, television is no slouch when it comes to exploring time travel. The Canadian series Being Erica is a must watch if you have even a passing interest in revisiting different events in your life and altering their outcome.
I’ve been thinking about which times in my life I would choose to revisit if I were able to. Going on the assumption that I would be revisiting history in the body of the past but the mind of the present, I would relish the opportunity to head back to 1992 and relive my secondary school days.
I know that for many of you, your days at secondary school would have been memorable for good reasons. Perhaps you had a great group of friends that you used to hang out with. Or maybe you were successful at sport and headed up one of the school teams.
For me, secondary school was a nightmare. Not because I didn’t want to learn and do well. Of course I did. But my four years in secondary education were marred by a prolonged and persistent campaign of both mental and physical torment.
40 year old me wouldn’t stand for it. These days I would most certainly give as good as I got. But back then 14 year old me was very much the victim and after so many months of being subjected to being regularly punched, kicked, shoved and spat on I just resigned myself to the fact that this was what life was to be like until I left.
The bullying wasn’t just physical either. Being insulted, belittled and made to feel like something that you’ve just stepped in can have just as detrimental an effect on somebody as being physically abused. In many ways it is actually worse. At least cuts and bruises eventually heal and disappear. Mental torment however is likely to stay with you for life. Believe me, I know.
Changing the past
So if I had the opportunity to go back to the heady days of 1992 I would love to do things differently.
For a start I wouldn’t put up with any of the physical abuse that I was made to endure. I know it’s a bit of a cliché but I honestly believe that if somebody hits you, you should hit them back harder. Not that I’m condoning violence of course. But if you’re happy to dole out the punches you should equally be able to take them as well.
Then there is the mental torment. The name calling and the belittling. Back then I would just take it. Even laughing it off a lot of the time. But if I were to head back there with the intelligence and wit of my 40-year-old self I would turn the tables on them and make them the ones that looked pathetic and weak. Not me.
Lastly, as a result of being able to stand up to the bullies, I would be able to focus my attention onto actually doing well in my GCSE’s. You see by the time it got around to year 10 and to the point of choosing which subjects I wanted to focus on, I had pretty much lost the will to live. So I resigned myself to the fact that it didn’t really matter what I chose as I was destined to fail at everything anyway. I ended up languishing in the bottom set for everything, and left school at the age of 16 with a string of grade D’s to my name.
Do I blame my tormentors for everything? No, I don’t. Yes of course a lot of my experience at secondary school was determined by their behaviour. But I also feel that I could and should have handled things very differently. I shouldn’t have put up with the physical abuse and I shouldn’t have allowed them to belittle me and affect my schoolwork.
But hindsight is a wonderful thing. I’m sure that all of you reading this can think back to an earlier time in your life and wish that you acted or behaved differently.
What period of your life would you revisit given the chance?