An old school friend came up on my Facebook feed the other day. She seems to be doing really well for herself. It made me think about expectations and ambitions, and basically, me not living up to them.

We were of pretty similar intelligence and attainment in school. She was certainly more motivated – less lazy – than I was. And arguably, she went to a better university.

I have no idea what she’s done in the 8 years since uni, but she’s senior something-or-other with a firm in London now. One I’ve heard of I think. And here’s me, earning just over NMW, putting none of my education or intelligence to any use. And genuinely having no idea where I’ll be after July.

I got quite depressed, thinking if only I’d put my head down in uni, been more focused, etc., then I could be a high-flying senior-something-or-other in London too.

That kind of thinking is so toxic.

It overlooks the fact that I was quite depressed in uni and that took over most of my life.

It overlooks the fact that I didn’t cope well with the ‘small fish, big pond’ situation I found myself in when I got to uni.

It overlooks the huge self confidence and self esteem issues I suffered from.

But more importantly, it overlooks everything that I have experienced on the path I took (or found myself on). I’m not saying it’s all been good and plain sailing: it’s been exactly the opposite a lot of the time. But if I’d have been different in uni, would I have…

  • been such good friends with Kris and Fred?
  • gone to South Africa volunteering?
  • gone to Central America volunteering (which I paid for myself)?
  • gone round the world and worked in New Zealand (which I paid for myself)?
  • done a skydive?
  • spent 6 months volunteering in the UK?
  • worked for WCVA, meeting wonderful people there and working for possibly the best boss ever?
  • gone to Newcastle to do my Masters, meeting wonderful people there?
  • gone to Japan, and potentially going a second time?
  • been a published author in WCVA research and UK-Japan conference proceedings?
  • stayed so close to Rhian?
  • had fun with the mounted games crowd?
  • been such good friends with my lost friend?
  • had brief encounters with my future husband and others?
  • done the ranch trip with Dad?
  • stayed so close to Mum?

Again, I’m not saying my life would’ve been rubbish if I’d have taken a different path. But I would still find stuff to complain about.

The point is, you have to cherish what you have, and what you have experienced.

Because otherwise it’s all ‘shoulda, woulda, couldas’, and that just makes you crazy. I think it’s more important to look at the path you’re on, decide what’s working and what isn’t, and put your efforts into fixing that.

For me that would be…

  • Remembering the great friendships I had with Danny, Cameron, Fred, Kris, the Newcastle crowd and others, and making an effort with them again. Whether that’s more contact via Facebook or email, or making the effort to visit people.
  • Getting to a point where I want to fix my friendship with my lost friend, because it meant so much to me and I still want to be friends.
  • Enjoying myself. Because honestly, what is the point in any of it if you’re not having fun? And even if most of my current income has to go on paying off debts, I can still have ‘free’ fun.
  • Finishing my dissertation, to a standard that I am happy with.
  • Self improvement, including everything from sports to languages to IT courses
  • Seeing more of the world. I have the travel bug, and there are plenty of parts of the world I still want to see, whether that’s holidays, volunteering, or more working abroad. I did my TEFL for a reason after all.
  • Spending time with my horses, riding more often, and if I can afford it, competing.

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