I’m sorry if you’ve been missing my blog posts. I love to shut off from everything over summer in line with the school holidays and really recharge my batteries before the upcoming academic year. I haven’t written in months and this morning as I was about to post a message of well wishes to students receiving their Leaving Cert results, I decided to turn it into a blog post telling you about the day I received my results and my journey thus far.
Your Leaving Cert results certainly don’t determine what you’re going to do career-wise for life. It’s refreshing to see that nowadays people chop and change jobs all the time. There are multiple avenues and there is so much choice.
You’ve heard it before: at 17 or 18 years of age, it’s hard to know what you want to do. I really didn’t know and I found it difficult to choose. I remember breaking down – uncontrollably – when I met up with my career guidance teacher. I found it all too much. How was I to know what I wanted to be? With so many possibilities, how do you settle for just one? I always enjoyed language learning at school so I decided to pursue this and not to limit myself, I added business into the mix. However, I always admired those who wanted to study design and took the road less travelled. It would fascinate me and I would fantasise about studying fashion design as I always enjoyed and appreciated art, having done classes outside school for years.
My degree was to be International Business with French and German at DCU. I studied French and German at school. and particularly loved German and Irish, but opted for Spanish last minute in the ‘Change Of Mind’ form two weeks before my results were due. It was one of the best decisions I made – choosing to learn Spanish from scratch at university. I enjoyed the classes from day one and had the opportunity to spend my Erasmus year studying in Seville.
I remember being incredibly nervous the day of my Leaving Cert results. My mum and I drove down to Ursuline College, the principal shook my hand and I bolted for the car. I didn’t want to face anyone. I didn’t know what to expect. I had my calculator ready and I very slowly revealed the first result. I saw A1 and relaxed a little. I must have totted up my results 3 times to be sure. I was in disbelief. It was a very happy day for me and my parents. We called in to tell dad at the office and he cried! We went to Hy-Brasil (now Sweet Beat Café) for a chocolate milkshake – they did the best milkshakes. Then it was time to spend the day with my friends. It was a really sunny day and The Garavogue was where it was at in 2003.
The day of my Junior Cert results was a little different. During that year, I had spent too much time galavanting as my mum would say and as result I got mainly Bs and a couple of As and Cs. I knew I was capable of much more. I had disappointed myself and knew I never wanted to feel like that again – that I hadn’t done my best or fulfilled my potential.
Here’s a picture of some of my closest school friends and I from The Sligo Champion (Wednesday, 13th August 2003). There’s a doctor and a mum in there, an OT, a PE teacher, an accountant, a high flying jet-setting hustler, a digital media guru and entrepreneur and a language teacher/jewellery designer – still trying to figure it all out.
I remember what I wore that day – it was a fab lemon and baby blue Diesel T-shirt with ruffled sleeve detail. I got it on sale from Addam when they stocked ladies’ clothing. They had the nicest stock and the best sales.
So, fortunately my hard work paid off, I got my first choice and I loved my course and experience in DCU, but there were other passions I had yet to explore and other challenges yet to face. After finishing my 4 year degree in my early 20s, I found this a particularly confusing time. I had my degree, but what was I? I wasn’t a nurse, a doctor, a pharmacist… I wasn’t really a qualified anything. If I wanted to be a teacher, I had further study ahead. Again, I didn’t really know what I wanted. I just knew I needed some time out from study. I moved home and got some experience sub teaching and I was itching to travel across South America – so I did. While in Sucre, Bolivia I did a Skype interview from the reception desk of my hostel for my MA in Interpreting and Translating for the University of Bath and I did my translation exam for them in the nearest internet café. There was no MacBook Air at that time.
I really wasn’t ready for a masters, but just wanted some kind of plan of action for September when I came back from my travels. It was a very challenging course and I knew very early on that this was not the path for me, but I stuck it out and saw it through. I found that there wasn’t much room for creativity while translating and interpreting. You’re effectively translating other people’s opinions and beliefs.
It was back home to Sligo again to re-examine what I was going to do. I covered a maternity leave teaching Spanish and Business and decided to apply to Trinity for my PDE (Hdip) to become a qualified teacher et voilà… I took the scenic route. Some people know, or appear to know, exactly what they want in life. I could have got to this stage a lot quicker, but I know I wouldn’t be content had I not explored other avenues and ruled them out.
At 18, you’re probably full of hope and enthusiasm – ready to take it all on. You’re probably very confident in your ability and intelligence and believe anything is possible. You have so much living to do and lessons to learn and I’m sorry to tell you that your dreams will be crushed and you will lose hope – temporarily. There will be setbacks and knocks along the way, but don’t lose hope. Your next opportunity is around the corner. If one door closes, build your own door and open it.
You may have read this before, but I loved making jewellery as a hobby during my teenage and college years. I would always dabble in a bit of upcycling and try and make tops for going out too – probably not very well, but I loved making nonetheless. Sometimes you give up on your hobbies as you don’t see their value or importance. You may box your passions away, but they won’t lie dormant for too long… they slowly find their way back to you.
From making simple jewellery out of shells I collected and posting on my blog, came an opportunity to design my own collection. Don’t underestimate the importance of your hobbies and side projects!
I am a teacher, but this still wasn’t enough for me. I set up my blog modaFix as a means to express my passions and interest in style and design. It has brought so many opportunities and got me where I wanted in terms of designing jewellery. Blogging was my avenue into design. OK, I didn’t study design but my avenue is still a valid one. The work I’ve put in over the years has led me to where I am today. If you have an idea and believe in something, you can make it happen. I’m still learning all the time and figuring things out as I go along.
Here are some of the designs from my Silver Linings Collection.
I’ve collaborated with Counties of Ireland Jewellery and each piece is handmade at Leitrim Sculpture Centre.
My designs are available in sterling silver, solid 9ct gold and rose gold plate.
I’ve been listening to a series of fantastic podcasts on NPR. The series is called ‘How I Built This’. It’s about innovators and entrepreneurs and the stories behind the movements they built. They discuss both their triumphs and failures. I’m completely hooked! Favourites include: Kendra Scott, Kate and Andy Spade, Blake Mycoskie of TOMS, Sara Blakely of Spanx, Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia, Troy Carter on Lady Gaga and Atom Factory, John Mackey of Whole Foods Market… so many incredibly inspiring and relatable stories. I can’t recommend these podcasts enough if you have an idea and need some motivation. Many of these are not business people or makers. Many never studied at third level. They just had ideas and believed in them.
Growing up, my mum told me about this girl from the Ursuline who designed her own jewellery and owned The Cat And The Moon. It amazed me that a former pupil from my school had her own silver and gold jewellery. I’m talking about Martina Hamilton of course. These were the kinds of people and career paths that interested me most.
If you think about something long enough and really want it, it unfolds. All summer I’ve been working on my own online shop and I’ll be working on a new design for Christmas. I hope you like my designs as much as I’ve enjoyed bringing them to you. At the moment, my Silver Linings Collection is available online here and a limited supply of my Shell Collection is available at Shells Café in Strandhill.
Best wishes to all of you who have received your results today. There is so much excitement ahead for you. If it didn’t work out as you’d planned, look for the silver lining!
Thanks for reading,