HOW LUNCH DICTATED MY CAREER – A GUEST POST

large (5)
I don’t know about you, but Big Important Life Decisions completely paralyse my brain’s ability to function.

Offer me a double chocolate muffin or an apple and obviously, I’m not mad, I’ll opt for the muffin. I’ll probably take two, one for the road.

Ask me which I’d prefer to watch out of Legally Blonde and Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde and yes – I’m only human  – I might pause for a second. But then I’ll see sense and plump for the original. Way more bend and snap.

But ask me what I want to DO with my life and I’ll be pretty stumped. And that’s because the opportunities are endless…which is both exhilarating and terrifying.

Feeling me so far?

When you’re REALLY young the hardest decisions are the likes of:

“Do I eat my chips before my stupid peas or do I leave my chips ’til last and risk getting full?”

[to be fair that’s a question that’s still highly relevant well into my adult years]

Or even the delicate and highly political:

“Who’s going to be my best friend at school today? Sophie…so she’ll invite me to her bouncy castle birthday party? Or Olivia…because then she’ll let me plait her hair at break?”

Even as you grow up through your teens the options are laid out for you:

French or German.

History or Geography.

Backstreet Boys or Boyzone.

Gap year or straight to uni.

It’s not ’til uni is ending that you are suddenly hit with the enormity of your career choices. Yes, it’s slightly different if you studied medicine – your path is fairly set, Dr McSmug. But for many of us, leaving uni meant – for perhaps the first time – we didn’t have anyone offering us A or B on a little plate. It was A-Z and maybe some cheeky hieroglyphics thrown in too. Just to add to the chaos.

When I was a little nipper the only jobs I knew about were the ones I’d seen in picture books: nurse, train driver, teacher and farmer. I literally thought the world was operated by those four jobs alone.

Then dawns the realisation that not only are there countless more industries than you ever envisaged…but within those industries are a complicated hierarchy of positions.

I remember feeling completely and utterly overwhelmed – aged 21 – as my life lay before me and I found myself, much to my disappointment and surprise, not married to Prince William (plan A) or Prince Harry (plan B).

It seemed as though I was going to have to choose a career. I just didn’t have the foggiest clue what that career was going to be.

In the end, my first job out of uni was working in the advertising industry.

Want to know why? The truth?!

It’s because I made the mistake of going to a careers fair completely knackered and hungry.

And it was alphabetically laid out, clockwise. I only managed as far as ‘A’.

I’m happy that one of my KPIs isn’t chaperoning zoo animals. Although I did end up being an accidental sex pest at my advertising job.

*NOW A SLIGHT TANGENT*

On the subject of zoos…I’m not sure how long I would have lasted as a zookeeper. I’m on the crazy end of the squeamish scale. The first time I went to visit my sister in Zimbabwe we went to a crocodile park and I’m DEATHLY afraid of crocs.

I asked – nervously – how many of the beasts they had. The tour guide responded with gusto:

“There are thirty…

Cripes. But I think I can cope with 30. Just.

“-thousand crocodiles in this park.”

Kill me now.

His next line keeps me awake at night to this date, although I think it was intended to soothe us:

“Don’t worry, they rarely escape.”

RARELY ISN’T NEVER.

Cue me, bursting into tears.

*TANGENT OVER*

When it comes to those Big Important Life Decisions, it comforts me slightly that I have permission from the one-and-only Moulin Rouge creator himself, Baz Luhrmann, to not know what I want to do with my life. I mean the man has won 23 film awards (I counted on Wikipedia) so he must know a thing or two about ambition.

From Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen)’:

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life

The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives

Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t

I’m 31. I still have 9 years to meet Baz Luhrmann and still be considered ‘interestingly adrift’. I can live with that.

Written by the author of Disasters of A Thirty Something.

unnamed (4)

A hilarious blogger (and now Agony Aunt to me) who documents all of the stories from her life that you or I would probably rather forget, all for our entertainment.

Visit her site or follow her on Twitter here.

THE NOD

0fd4939e55d089784ad57f97ed57501b

Charles Bukowski once said that, “the problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.”

Although I might have tried to say it with a little more tact, I wholeheartedly agree: the more knowledge you have, the more aware you are of what could go wrong. However, what I will say, is that knowledge doesn’t even slightly compare with the value of experience; hence why we go to our elders for advice, rather than those our junior.

Experience allows you to know what to expect of each challenge that is to follow. It gives you the benefit of hindsight and practical sense. You begin to realise that the things you panic about are a rarity, and that when they do go wrong, it’s generally no biggie. It’s how you deal with the problems you face- that’s the real test.

Or is it?

Some people find actually saying YES to things in the first place the hardest thing to do. It can vary from changing their coffee order from a cappuccino to a latte, to a drastic career change. It can be taking on more responsibility at work that scares you, or saying YES to a proposal you’ve been waiting five years for. Sometimes, we fear things because they are the unknown, and others because we hold such high expectations for them. Either way, if you want something (and it doesn’t hurt anybody else), then take the leap.

It’s so easy to let time tick by on the mundane clock. Work, home, eat, sleep. But with that, time slips through your fingers like sand, and before you know it, five years have passed you by on the 7.46 to Waterloo.

At work, people used to ask me why I didn’t sit still. They couldn’t understand why I was always busy in the evenings and why I didn’t want to just sink into my duvet on a weeknight. I could never give them a reason, except for “why not?” and I always felt that that wasn’t enough to justify my hectic lifestyle.

Now, with hindsight, I realised that was the perfect answer. I was curious, never complacent and rarely bored. Nowadays, particularly in this cold, February climate, I love getting snuggled up with Netflix and snacks. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that, but every night? Maybe it has something to do with me being 25 but – seeing as that isn’t even old – I think it’s just because I say no to things more often.

My parents would tell me at this point to shut up. They would say that I’m still always on the move and rarely sit down, but I’ve seen a change in how much I get up to and I need to get my curiosity back.

Going through a break up is prime time for people to say no to things. You feel like you need to spend time alone, but when you challenge yourself to head out with your mates, you know you’ll laugh at least once- and that’s once more than if you sat in bed alone eating too much pizza. Sometimes, when you’re offered an opportunity at work that’s a little out of your comfort zone, you’ll say no for fear of getting it wrong. Did anyone ever shout at you for not knowing your times tables on arrival at nursery? Didn’t think so. Everything is a challenge when it’s new, so embrace it and do your best- that’s all anyone wants. And dating someone new? Totally terrifying. But you aren’t handcuffed to the seat, so make your excuses and leave; this ain’t no fifty shades situation (unless you want it to be).

I want you now to think about all the things you have said YES to in the course of your life – focus only on sober choices please or else it will have been a wasted exercise – and think about how much better you are for seizing all of those opportunities. Some of them might have turned out to be a disaster and others might have been a spectacular success. Either way, you will have learned something.

I used to love exploring the world and now I find it tedious. Even the thought of having to navigate Glastonbury is overshadowing all the fun that I’ll be having at the moment. It’s time to get off my butt and get excited about things again, the way that a child does on Christmas morning. My surroundings haven’t grown tired, they’re still moving and changing all around me, I’m just ignoring them.

So now to top up my Oyster, ask who’s free and say YES to things.

Who needs a holiday?

The Library

Okay, so I’m in the depths of revision/essay/third year hell and thought I’d take another trip to the library today in order to relieve this stress and get lots of work done. However, as my concentration dwindled this afternoon, I began to notice things about the London library.

London libraries invite everyone inside, making for some sort of mad hatter’s tea part or something. Without wanting to sound too elitist, it seems as though all the people of London who have no one to talk to, come to the library, a place to study IN SILENCE, to talk to people. It really is beyond me. There’s always some nutter asking the librarian lots of utterly pointless questions, gaining everyone’s attention as they peer from behind their desk lamps, pretending to be absorbed in whatever it is they’re reading. There’s always a group of cackling GCSE or A Level students in hysterics over dropping a pen or flirting with eachother over Chaucer. There is always a fittie reading some romantic novel making him seem even more attractive due to his intelligence… actually that I am not complaining about. Distractions are welcome in this case.

A distraction that is not welcome, is the ruffling of newspapers. It really irritates me when people come to the library to read the newspaper. I will never understand this. Why would one choose to sit on a hard wooden chair in partial darkness and in a cold room (because libraries, for some reason, are always cold) to read the morning paper? Go and BUY a newspaper for 30p and enjoy it in your own living room. Or coffee shop. Or anywhere but here. You are taking up valuable study space.

However, despite all these issues with my local library, I still don’t know which library I prefer: the university library or the London Library. I mean, the London library has easy access to ameneties such as Starbucks and Pret but at least university libraries have wifi access! Maybe it’s just Fulham that is stuck in the dark ages but all they provide are four computers for the public. Four. That’s incredibly helpful isn’t it. On the other hand though, university libraries are tedious because everyone who goes there to study is there to be looked at. They’re all like ‘ooohh i’m studying. I’m going to do better than you because I’ve been here for five hours already and you’ve only just arrived.’ No you won’t. I do English and you do Maths. They’re completely unrelated. Pillock.

Not only that, people actually dress up for the library. I’ve been informed it isn’t just Exeter that upholds this rule of compulsory eyeliner and a fit pair of leggings whilst studying, it happens at Nottingham and Durham too. And probably everywhere else for that matter. The thing that annoys me the most? I uphold this tradition and I don’t even know why!!

My concern centered around study space only goes to show how boring my life is. So much for 2011 being eventful eh!