I have recently discovered, on arriving in my 20s and dropping off the end of the educational conveyor belt, that the adult life I have been so prepared for was slightly mis-sold.
The ‘save the date’ for this long-awaited event was issued almost as soon as I could talk.
It said I could be quite sure that once I had endured the education process, stuck at the times-tables, practised my violin, learnt to write thank-you letters and then taken the right GCSEs, I could look forward to a flipping life-party at the end of it. I’d probably be either prime minister or a writer for the Times, or maybe just a human rights lawyer. Either way, I’ll wear heels, keep spare wet wipes in my handbag, own a watch and be tremendously purposed.
Having spent 22 years preparing for the party of real adult life; practising conversational skills, having my hair in uncomfortable rollers, sticking on fake eyelashes and hunting round M&S for those nipple flowers to go with the impractical dress (slightly stretching the metaphor), I’ve finally got to the party and … it’s not quite what I had in mind.
It’s like I’ve arrived in my finery to be greeted by a dimly-lit room of other confused individuals watching Friends reruns and eating two-for-Tuesday Dominos pizzas wondering whether they’ve misread the invitation and turned up at the wrong place. WHERE IS MY BALL? I’M WEARING PRETEND EYELASHES.
Part of me wondered whether the date on the invitation was just wrong. People settle into their real selves later in life these days so I probably have to wait another couple of years before I’m out-of-the-water with the preparation for the party and can get on to the good stuff.
But two years later it’s dawned that that’s probably not it. Even my friends who seem to have reached the party aren’t enjoying it that much. The fancy looking canapés don’t actually taste that great and all the networking is exhausting. Reunions are spent looking wistfully back to the dingy room of un-directioned individuals still dyeing their knickers grey in the wash and forgetting to add attachments onto emails.
Is this it? Or does life just start at 30 now? Crumbs maybe I should just get married and have babies to give the whole thing a bit more structure?
But what should I do with all my training???
Pick a little thing and keep on doing it I suppose. God, Community, Work. Plod, plod, plod.
Image credit: Dave Herholz