Life&Style’s Daisy Hanbury explains her thoughts on why not having your life completely planned out doesn’t have to be a negative thing
If this title jumped out at you, then the chances are you can relate to it in some way. How many of you feel as though you should have your life completely figured out by now, and how many of you are worried that you thought you had, but now you’re not so sure?
Well the reality is, pretty much everybody has probably felt like this at some point in their life.
In this day and age, it’s all too easy to become swept up in what everybody else is doing because it’s become so easy to see it. Whether it’s in magazines, social media, movies or books, we are fed a romanticised version of what the ‘ideal’ way to live life is, and it can leave us feeling inadequate and under pressure to conform to the universalised pattern of going to school, leaving college, graduating from university, and finding a job.
From the minute you enter the world, people love to make assumptions as to what you’re doing to do and who you’re going to be. “Will she like sport?”, “Maybe he’ll be a singer and play the piano”, “I wonder if she’ll take after her mother and be a teacher?” are all just harmless comments made when you’re too young to decide for yourself.
Before too long you begin the journey of your education, and at four years old, you’re thrown into a world of numbers and letters, phonics and times tables, and what it’s like to face leadership from people other than your parents. Having just entered your teenage years, you then step onto the path to GCSEs and A Levels and are soon faced with the intimidating message that every decision you make will have a rippling effect on your future. A message that seems somewhat ironic seeing as you aren’t even old enough to vote for your future, let alone make decisions that are going to affect it.
When choosing what degree to study at University, we become accustomed to the concept that ‘sensible’ jobs are ones to aspire to, as they are ones that pay well, and however true that may be, what happens if you prefer to sing, or to write, or to make films, or to do something that perhaps isn’t guaranteed to make you the big bucks? We soon find ourselves under pressure to follow up on what we ‘should’ do and not necessarily what we ‘want’ to do, which can result in us aiming to work in a profession that has a stronger place in society than it does in our hearts.
The reality is, entering primary school at four years old isn’t just about teaching you how to deal with maths and literacy problems, it’s also about teaching you how to develop social skills and manners, how to respect adults and how to be empathetic. It’s not just about arts and crafts and Christmas nativity plays, it’s about learning not to speak when being spoken to, to always look people in the eye when you’re talking to them and to say please and thank you when required.
It’s the same with secondary school. Amidst the test scores, UCAS points and university places, your teenage years give you time to figure out who you are, and what sort of people you want to surround yourself with. Those years are about finding out where your talent really lies, and how to push yourself to perform to the best of your ability whilst being placed under a type of pressure you’ve never experienced before. Even if it takes you until your mid-thirty’s to figure out what it is that lights a spark, it’s about being able to try new experiences and most importantly, allowing yourself to make mistakes.
Whether you leave school straight after GCSEs or you end up with a Master’s Degree and a guaranteed job, it’s the experiences you’ve gained and the ways in which you’ve been taught how to behave that are actually the most important qualifications you’ll ever own. Those are the skills that will take you further in life than the job you have or the degree you acquire, because it is the type of person you are that will leave the strongest impression on the people you meet, whether they’re a future boss, business partner or brother-in-law.
There is no such thing as finding your job too late, or too early for that matter.
Take Morgan Freeman for example, who didn’t land his first movie role until he was 52, or Vera Wang who was a figure skater and a journalist before she entered the fashion industry at the age of 40 and is now one of the world’s most famous fashion designers. Even Oprah was fired from her first reporting job at the age of 23, and at 28, J.K. Rowling was a suicidal single parent barely making ends meet.
At some point, all those people faced an uncertainty which probably scared them as much as it scares you. And while the uncertainty may seem stressful and daunting, there is actually no right or wrong way to go about things. Your self-worth and your ability to become successful isn’t based on the number of years you’ve been on the planet, and the sooner you start to realise it, the more productive and successful you will be. Because if you’re happy with what you’re doing, then you’re already one step ahead.