“You Should Lower Your Sights”, by Darren Burgess

The sudden explosion of laughter that came from my trusted careers ‘advisor’ was deafening. It felt as though that laugh had a sonic boom to it that punched a hole in my heart.

“I told you” whispered the voice in my head.
Darren Burgess

Darren Burgess

I was 15 years old, across from me was a middle-aged man wearing the typical clothes that a teacher of a 1980’s English state school would wear. He was studying my ‘file’. These things never went well.

“so… what do you want to do when you leave school?”

I shrugged my shoulders, trying to avoid eye contact.

“come on! There must be something?!”

I paused… don’t do it, a voice whispered. Don’t show yourself.

I had learned at a very early age that to show my true self only ever ended in pain and suffering. I took a breath.

“I’d really love to be a fighter pilot” I whispered, staring at the floor.

The sudden explosion of laughter that came from my trusted careers ‘advisor’ was deafening. It felt as though that laugh had a sonic boom to it, that punched a hole in my heart.

I retreated.

“I told you” whispered the voice in my head. That voice had become a familiar companion; keeping me safe from the pain that was always waiting for me.

“I think…” my advisor continued “you should lower your sights young man”

He continued to flick through my file.

“Have you thought about manual work, maybe a carpenter… like your Dad?”

I have learned to be grateful for this man, whoever he was. I don’t remember his face, his name, his hair colour… but his words are seared across my soul.

Nine years on from that discussion, I was formally accepted into Britannia Royal Naval College as a helicopter co-pilot trainee. And since then I have been married, emigrated to Australia, had 2 kids and a 10-year career in corporate senior management.

BDarren Burgess Uniformut even with all that, I still wasn’t really happy.

I had however found during that journey, that being a Dad was my purpose, my foundational Y. But it wasn’t that simple. If I wasn’t happy, was I really being that great a Dad? What example was I setting? This feeling of conflict between expectation and reality went on for years. I changed jobs and moved house several times, but the feeling was always there.

Then a gradual realisation that, after years in structured management roles, it started to become obvious that I am in fact a creative. And I love to help people. So slowly I began forging a new path.

In the last 2 years my second daughter was born, I was made redundant, I started a business, I built a house and I got divorced. I have had to sell my house and have restarted my life.

But even all through that I haven’t given up.

I refuse. Because I know this is what I want to do. And I want to teach my daughters that when someone tells you to “lower your sights”, that you ignore them.

Instead, you find your passion, find your fire and once you do, you don’t stop, for anything.

It isn’t easy, and that voice still to this day comes back to discourage and bully me. But the attention it gets is reducing and I refuse to stop. I refuse to lower MY sights. We have one life; we aren’t coming back to have another go and I do not want to look back to this moment with regrets. So I keep going, no matter what.


COMMENT: If this story has impacted you in any way, we would love you to leave a comment below. It only takes a second, but leaves a lasting impact on us.
Thankyou.. YMag Team

Shar Moore

CEO/Founder YMag

Shar Moore is an International Award Winning Mentor, Keynote Speaker, Author, Mum and Nani. Her work with women globally, has led her to publish YMag, encouraging people to be the best version of themselves, by living their Y.

  1. I’ve worked with thousands of people in all careers and stages of their career lives and I’m sorry to say this attitude from school career advisers is lamentably still prevalent.
    You’ll never find Your Career Sweet Spot following the limited vision of others.
    Thanks for this reminder to keep your passion and keep going.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.