Probably because I’ve been on my own quite a lot lately, and because they’re already starting to appear on social media, I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s happened this decade as it starts to come to a close.
In 2010 I was in my final year of secondary school, I’d been dating my first serious boyfriend for almost 6 months and I was trying to keep motivated through the hell that is A–Levels and university applications.
I had A Plan, and although school work wasn’t always done to the best of my abilities if we’re honest, I knew what my Plan was and I was working towards making it happen. Turns out life doesn’t work like that. I think one of the most painful (at times) but most valuable lessons I have learnt this decade is to adapt when plans change. It’s still a work in progress. It’s a lie to say the reality now is the polar opposite of what I had planned, but to say it’s taken a hard left would be accurate.
Some things have stayed the same, the boyfriend is now my Husband and I’m still friends with some of the people I went to school with, but so much has changed. I have the degree I wanted, which I hoped would lead to the job I thought I wanted but it turns out the economy and a pretty crap time on my placement year meant I decided that job wasn’t for me.
The girl who left her home town for the wilds of the countryside for Uni because she detested urban life, then headed off from Uni to London, talk about a gear change. Nothing says ‘this plan is bullshit and not going to happen’ like moving from Rural(ish) Shropshire to London and having to try and convince the city to give you and your Countryside Management degree a job.
I don’t remember much of the middle of the decade. The spring of 2013 to early 2016 were not my finest years. It was mainly a fog of depression and bad decisions with money and career plans to try and do anything to break the vicious cycle of unemployment and financial struggle. Life threw us a tragic family death and me a major operation in the Summer of 2013 which was followed with trying to navigate the choppy waters of finishing Uni and setting sail in the big wide world. I can’t hold those things entirely responsible for my actions and decisions but I think it’s fair to say they impacted me significantly which had a big impact on my mental health and my decision making.
Don’t get me wrong, there were some great moments in that time, family holidays, adventures up and down the country with my re-enactment hobby, friends weddings etc and it was those moments that kept reminding me it would work out, somehow.
In the end, it worked and I got a job. I worked in industries I’d never, ever had an intention of being in but I enjoyed some bits and hated others. I’ve been grateful for the fact that the jobs I’ve had in my time have been anything but boring.
Life twists and turns so much more than anyone ever let’s on, for fear of showing that they haven’t got any handle on their own plan but as mine has continued to do just that, I’m continuing to grow and most importantly learn. I’ve kind of given up on having A Plan now, it’s easier to admit you’re lost when you’re not battling with yourself about Where You Should Be.
Although some of the most pretentious of these comparisons online make a lot of people hate this kind of thing, I do believe there is value in reflection and learning to try and be both happier and prouder of the person we are becoming, having looked back at the person we once were.
Some things about me haven’t changed. I’m still a bit lazy, talk way too much, get worked up about things too easily and try and make things black and white because nothing scares me more than a grey area. But I’m also still trying to be kind, to be tenacious and stand up for what I believe in. Some of my passions in life have changed, some have stayed the same.
I’m not entirely sure what the 18 year old girl me would make of nearly 28-year old adult me. I think she’d be disappointed that I made some of the mistakes I swore I was going to avoid, but I think she’d be proud that although it’s tried damn hard, the world hasn’t quite shut me up. I’m not sure what she’d make of the fact I was living the suburban life she was so desperate to avoid at the time, but has been craving to get back to in the last few years post the boggling world of London.
If I’m honest, she’d be amazed and grateful about some of the really cool things I’ve now seen and done and meet the people I’ve met and she’d be glad I started to learn to roll with the punches more. But I think she’d be sad that I let the plan go so much so, that I’m not really sure where I’m going, what I really want to do or how I want to achieve that anymore.
Overall, I just hope she’s proud that by hook and by crook, somehow, we’ve just about made it through the last 10 years.