My school days were not very happy. Some of the girls went around in gangs and picked on people like me. They were physically and mentally abusive and bullied constantly. Consequently, I just learnt to keep my head down.
But even as I practiced the art of ‘bunking off’, I still read some amazing books. One of which was “I’m OK You’re OK”. In those days we had to cover our school textbooks with old bits of wallpaper or brown paper. I loved this book so much that I covered that too in brown paper. It became my constant companion. I was also reading lots of books on consciousness and other philosophical type literature. But in effect this showed me I didn’t belong and I left school believing that I wasn’t particularly intelligent.
I went from job to job constantly restless. All I wanted to do was travel. So by the time I was 19 years I became cabin crew for a major airline. I was off, camera in hand spending every penny I earnt in absorbing new and exciting smells, colours and sounds. I became a confirmed travel junky.
Time moved on, I met my future husband and left the airline. I became a businesswoman and mother. My travelling didn’t stop. I still spent my last penny on having adventures, but this time with my husband and children. But my father would always say “Lynda, if you want to go anywhere spiritual go to the Himalayas”.
Then one day my father died suddenly. He was a physically powerful man who helped everyone. We thought he had many years left. We were devastated.
A few months after his death I heard some of the Mums at the school gates talking about trekking in the Himalayas. I jumped at the chance. So one year and three days after my father’s death I found myself being in the very place that Dad had loved so much.
It blew me away. The effect this place had on me was totally overwhelming. To the point that when I came home I constantly looked at fire light or candle light wishing to be back in the mountains. I was pretty useless for the next three months.
One morning I woke suddenly realizing how unfair I was being. I was an only child of a widowed mother, a wife and a mother myself. I knew I had to get back to being in my real world, so in order to ground myself I decided to go to night school to do an ‘A’ level.
I really got into it even though I felt sick with nerves at exam time. So I dared to apply to university.
The day I was accepted on a university course is one of the happiest days of my life. I came out of the interview and ran and ran and ran. I was bursting with excitement.
I loved my first degree so much that I went onto to do a masters and then a PhD in cognitive neuroscience.
So the little girl who thought she wasn’t particularly clever found that in actual fact, she wasn’t so bad after all.
But the biggest thing I learnt was that it’s never too late; our past is not our destiny.
Dr Lynda appeared on Dream Corner in October 2011, and you can listen to our interview here - Interview with Dr Lynda Shaw