Some years ago I did a certificate in Women’s Studies. I wasn’t really quite sure what to do with my life, having taken time out to have three kids in three different countries. How would I return to a vastly different workforce—Australia in the 1990s—to the one I had left in Amsterdam in the late 1970s? I’d never considered I’d become a writer!
My Women’s Studies lecturer was Kerry Heysen, granddaughter-in-law of the famous landscape painter and wife of Scott Hicks. It was a demanding and challenging course, reflected in the high attrition rate: only six of us remained of the original 24 hopeful enrolees.
Battle weary, but considerably wiser, we celebrated our graduation with a dinner at which Kerry presented us all with golden fairy wands and a personal letter. I had worked hard on this course, delving into research on the diverse lived experiences of women in other times and different places. It had certainly expanded my outlook on life. So I was a bit distressed on receiving my letter from Kerry.
‘I despair of you Susanne’, it began. ‘I don’t know what you will do with your life. You are so interested in and curious about everything. I don’t know how you will settle on a career that will satisfy you.’
I pondered over this and still do. But I am certain I made the right choice. As a writer, particularly one who combines this with research, I can explore everything! I can be a lifelong learner and relish it!
When I did my degree in professional writing, I wondered what on earth I would write about. One thing was for certain: I did not want to lock myself into a niche. But then along came opportunities to work with the state education department. And what could be better?
Education offers a pretty vast and diverse playground to explore, bringing in neuroscience and all those curriculum areas about places and times and cultures. It invites you to think in all sorts of ways: like a scientist, a detective, an artist or a mathematician.
So here I am, nearly 20 years later, fully satisfied with my choice and eager for the next challenge. The older I get, the more I realise the less I know. There’s a whole smorgasbord out there—and it’s all ripe for the exploration. Perfect sustenance for a curious mind!