When I think back to when I was a kid, I remember all of the expectations I had for what being a grown up would entail. My simple, innocent young mind hadn’t quite figured out the whole life thing yet, as it was too busy creating bedroom dance routines and working out how to hide midnight feast wrappers from my mum.
At the grand old age of 28 where I’m old enough to be expected to adult but still young enough to be able to sulk about it, I thought I’d reflect on the vast differences between what I thought this older life would mean compared to what it actually means.
(Blog post picture: The moment I flash-forwarded to the awfulness of adult life whilst having a lovely time on Weymouth beach with my wonderful Nanny G.)
The earliest career goal I can recall is the one where I had my heart set on being a dancer at around six years of age. I did a bit of ballroom dancing locally, won a few trophies, so naturally assumed that was me set for life. I also went through a phase of wanting to be a teacher, but part of me thinks that was just because I was a bossy little bitch who used the ‘I want to be a teacher’ line so that I never had to be the student when me and my mates played school.
I chose my GCSEs on the basis of wanting to be a PA, absolutely no idea where that came from. I think the pressure to decide my entire life path at 14 made me panic buy that decision. Before university I changed my mind again and I then wanted to be a Forensic Psychologist because ‘it would be cool to work with murderers and rapists and stuff’, and I took a degree in Psychology and Criminology.
So, I ended up dropping out of that Psychology and Criminology degree. Turns out, the prospect of working with murderers and rapists was a bit less exciting and a bit more mentally exhausting than the BBC dramas would have you believe. After I dropped out, I did a part time Open University degree in English Language and Literature alongside working full time. Since then, my career goals have bounced between ‘writer’ and ‘dunno, really’. The latter meaning ‘writer, but until I get my big break and start making money off it I’ll just dick about in marketing I suppose’.
In the same way that every other young girl believed, I assumed I’d meet a prince and we’d live happily ever after. Obviously we’d start our life together after I’d eaten a shit apple and fallen asleep for ages, then he’d come and kiss me and I’d wake up. Or he’d find my shoe after I ran (drunkenly stumbled) out of a ball (Wetherspoons), fall in love with me, then knock on all of the doors in town until he found the foot that fits. Fucking Disney.
I do remember thinking that everyone just got married when they got to a certain age. I may have even thought there was a place you go to when you’ve hit your time to be wife-d where you’re just paired up with someone else, like a wedding factory. It never occurred to me that grown ups could be single, unbelievably.
After a long and unsuccessful spree of online dating, I finally met my boyfriend when I realised this person I’d worked at the same company with for two years was quite nice actually. Fantastic, if a little slow, observation skills there. He missed all of my incredibly obvious hints where I was trying to get my hypothetical foot in that hypothetical door, and didn’t realise I fancied him until someone told him. He poked me on Facebook, as is how all good relationships start, and took me on a date a few weeks later where we awkwardly talked about work for a few hours, got drunk, and snogged like teenagers.
Cut to a year and a half later, we’re now living together and have never used the lock on the bathroom door due to reaching ultimate (and disgusting) levels of comfort. I’d choose wafting the duvet at him over Disney any day.
Another one of those ‘everyone has kids so that’s probably just what I’ll do’ expectations. In my early teens I liked the idea of having loads of kids and a massive hectic family (guess who caught Cheaper by the Dozen as an impressionable 14 year old). However, a few years later in my late teens and early 20s and I’d then decided that actually I didn’t want any kids ever.
Well, I don’t have any kids. I’ve gone from ‘no kids ever’ to ‘maybe kids one day, but no time soon’. I think I still need a bit of convincing because the thought of pushing one of those out of that makes me want to cry, as does having to deal with sick and shit all the time. I’m sure parenting is a joy, but so is being able to go on holiday when I want to, having a lie in on the weekend, and eating pasta pesto and cheese for dinner when I can’t be bothered to cook anything nutritious.
“I’m going to own a massive house with a big green garden and it’s going to have loads of cool furniture and be decorated really nicely. Maybe I’ll have a swimming pool. I’ll definitely have a gym and a huge TV, and my bed will take up three quarters of my enormous bedroom.”
Trolololol, NOT WHAT I EXPECTED. Without going on a rant about the fucking riiiiiiiiiiidiculous house prices my generation has to deal with compared to the low salaries on offer which gives the absolute impossibility of me ever owning a property unless I win the lottery as I’m not lucky enough to be in any rich bugger’s will *deep breath*… I pay £825 a month for a small (but admittedly, quite nice) one bedroom flat which was a ‘good find’ because all of the other ones we viewed looked like there was shit smeared on the walls and smelt like someone had died in them.
I better start lowering my expectations for old age…