In four short weeks, I’ll be celebrating my 25th birthday. I can’t quite believe I’m ready to hit this age yet – it seems like just yesterday I was turning 18, and I still get ID’ed for alcohol (thanks to the lady in my local Waitrose for the much needed ego boost last weekend). But no matter how much I protest about it, it’s still going to happen. What is it I’m so scared about? That I haven’t achieved the goals society thinks I should have achieved by now? That I don’t feel I’ve accomplished that much? I’m not sure.
Truth is, if my younger self could see me now, I’d like to think she’d be pleased. I was decidedly middling at school, unsure of which clique I fit into (why couldn’t I be in all of them?) – the cool kids who were in all the sports teams, the arts types who always got a part in the school play, or the “boffs”. It was difficult being someone who managed to get in the sports teams, played in the school orchestra and who got good grades. I didn’t fit the mould. It didn’t make me miserable, but I wasn’t delightfully happy at that age either. It was difficult for me, it was difficult for others to see beyond the parameters of cliques. University and life afterwards taught me that I didn’t have to fit a mould, that I would be praised for not. I found my own after 18 – I became more comfortable with who I am – I learnt who I was, and I let others learn that too.
Maybe I didn’t make it as the teacher or hairdresser that I thought I would be when I was 6, but I’m happy with my career. At that age, I didn’t think I’d be building a side hustle in my spare time either – I don’t think it even had a term back then. Growing up, teachers and peers would talk about traditional careers as if they were the only ones. Being a teacher, a lawyer, a doctor or nurse, a policeman. In all the careers advice chats I’ve ever had, nobody mentioned marketing to me, yet that is what I spend my 9 – 5 doing, and I bloody love it.
So sure, life doesn’t always go the way we want it to – house sales fall through right before exchange because the seller hadn’t bothered to check if they could get a suitable mortgage, or that guy you like doesn’t bother to text back instead leaving you on his back burner list (14 year old me hadn’t taken this into account) – but it’s these things that make me stronger. And you know what? I’m ready for what the next years hold.