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 span round operated by those four jobs alone.
Not sure there’s Alice the Assistant Social Media Trailblazer or Freddie the Freelance Finance Analyst
Then dawns the realisation that not only are there countless more industries than you ever envisaged…but within those industries are a complicated hierachy 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’.
Things could have turned out so differently if I’d gone round anti-clockwise
I’m happy that one of my KPIs isn’t chaperoning randy tortoises. 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.
I was extremely brave here I thought, putting my finger over the edge. I’ll probably get my Pride of Britain nomination soon.
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 have 9 years to meet Baz Luhrmann and still be considered ‘interestingly adrift’. I can live with that.