When I was 10 I failed my 11+ school exam so, Iike most of my classmates, I went to a Secondary Modern School. It was a good school and it expanded my horizons and opportunities enormously, compared to what I had experienced in a small primary school. I flourished and came top of my class in the first term so I was given a chance to sit the 12+ entrance exam for the Grammar School - one of only six people in the whole town. But I did not want to take the exam, I was doing well academically, I had a lot of friends and I was also playing a lot of sport which I enjoyed. I did not want to abandon what was for me was a good and successful life. My parents new better and sent me to talk to the vicar who I knew very well as I had been in the church choir for several years. He persuaded me that I should at least take the exam. When I went for the exam we had a class taught by the Deputy Head Master and he said a few words of encouragement that gave me the confidence to get involved in his class, which I think helped me pass the day long exam which I think was more about my engagement and how I coped with the material being taught than with what I knew.
When I look back I now realise that I was on a journey and the process I had gone through, the experiences I had, the relationships that helped me think about the situation from a different perspective to the one I held (I had a good life so why should I give it up?) all helped me see that it was worth giving up my existing good life and friendships and starting again - at the bottom of the academic pile at the Grammar School. The process I went through disrupted my beliefs and my life. It caused me to take and create an entirely new pathway which undoubtedly changed my life. That decision and my actions ultimately led me to my wife, university, a career as a geologist and living in Saudi Arabia but not before a few more life changing points.
Since then I have experienced this general pattern of self-disruption many times since then - every time I have thought about and gone after a new job, or made a career change or considered and taken on a new challenge that I know ultimately I will benefit from. I can now see that we have to disrupt our life periodically in order to grow and become the person we want to be.
1) Habermas T and Kober C (2014) Autobiographica Reasoning in Life Narratives Buffers the Effect of Biographical Disruption on the Sense of Self-continuity. Memory Available on line at