Talking To My Old School About Chasing Your Dreams
You can read the full article on Kent Online here: http://www.kentonline.co.uk/ashford/news/americas-got-talent-star-surprises-129383/
I had the great honour of talking to the students and staff of my old 6th form school, Highworth Grammar school at their end of year assembly.
Before I went on America’s Got Talent one of my old classmates got in touch explaining that she would love to have me give a talk to the 6th form students about how I got into magic and why it’s important to chase your dreams. I was busy in the US filming but once I had returned I dropped her a message to say that I had been on the show and would love to come and give a talk to the 6th form students.
To my surprise, she replied asking if I would give a speech to the entire school and staff during the end of year assembly. I couldn’t believe it; I would be able to stand in front of all the kids, who were just like me several years ago, and give them a word of advice, perhaps inspire them.
This was one of the proudest moments of my life.
I had sat in that assembly, and many like it, listening to the words of speakers who had come in to offer a few words of wisdom and as a kid, sometimes you listen sometimes you don’t. To think that me, this nerdy kid from a small town in Kent, would be asked to inspire the next generation of my hometown was something that kept me up all night.
SO that’s what I did, I stayed up all night and wrote a script that would go down like thunder, one that would inspire these young people to go and chase their dreams and never to give up. I have the script here, but instead of pasting it in I would rather sum it up myself.
The Morning Of The Talk
But before that, I have to explain that I didn’t get to sleep until 3 AM, I slept through my alarm and woke up just 2 hours before my speech. I live in the middle of London, and my hometown is in the south east, some 70-80 miles away. For a moment, I let the panic kick in; I was sweating, sitting up on my bed thinking how on earth would I make it. I would have to let everyone down.
Then it kicked in, the problem-solving mentality. I was up, showered and ready in just 5 minutes, making myself a coffee to go on the way out. A uber ride took me to Euston road, and before I knew it, a stone’s throw away from St. Pancras International where I could catch the train to Ashford in just 38 minutes. Getting me at Highworth with just 15 minutes spare.
Then we hit it, the traffic. It was horrendous. I know this because I catch the train often. I had about 15 minutes to go what would be a 5-minute drive, but the sat nav on my uber driver’s phone was telling us I would be sat there for another 20 minutes. This causes distress.
No worries, I was built for these kinds of scenarios. I got out the car and sprinted down Euston road, making it to the station with half an Asthma attack and 5 minutes to buy my ticket. I wanted a coffee so badly, the thought of a cold iced Americano twisted the gears in my head a couple of clicks in the right direction, but there was no time.
Into a taxi at Ashford and I had made it. 20 minutes later I was on stage.
I started by asking everyone with a talent to stand up – I knew that no one would, only the kids who have had a serious amount of validation for their talent would stand up, perhaps a county sports player or singer on youTube. A few of the girls, oh wait did I mention it’s 1000 girls? A few of them stood up, as I predicted. My point was that everyone has a talent, it’s just the thing you love doing, it’s your passion. Sometimes it’s more or less refined, or you find out what it is sooner than others, but everyone has one. You just have to listen to it. I got everyone to stand up, and soon we were all shouting to the skies that we had talent.
I did a few tricks, read a few minds, it all went down great. I had this wacky idea of using snapchat to get everyone up on stage, by using a giant cut out of my snapchat bit Moji. It worked well, and I soon had a volunteer up on stage.
After my tricks, I spoke about dreams, and how you chase them. For me, it’s the summer holidays that matter. When you’re at school you have so much to worry about, in your eyes, your GCSE’s, A Levels, they’re the be and end all of life. Literally. What you don’t realise is how little role they play in the grand scheme of things. That being said, when you’re on the summer holidays, you have a tremendous amount of time to explore what you love doing, try new things, explore hidden talents. It’s the time in your life when you actually can find out what you’re great at.
But I wrapped this all up by telling them about my morning, that I almost didn’t make it. That I was just like all of them, entirely human, we all sleep in and miss our alarm, and it happens to the best of us. That’s the point, you have to face these challenges head on, and they will make you grow. It’s just success testing you, trying to see if you’re worthy. So when these situations come at you, you have to know that it’s just a test, but you can do it, and if you do, you can chase your dreams. I didn’t make it through to the next round of America’s Got Talent, but does that mean I’m going to quit? No, of course, it doesn’t. You have to come back harder and stronger.
It was such an honor to speak to my old school and to offer them a few words of wisdom. Most importantly tell them that we can all do it, you just have to get knocked down a few times and get up!