This title is so dramatic. Sorry, I thought it was a bit more concise than “Feeling like you’re not where you should be in your life” or something along those lines. I’m forever regretting my life choices, particularly career-related ones, and I always seem to make more mistakes as I try to change direction. When my niece and nephews are in high school I am going to give them such a talking to about courses and careers, they’re going to be the most well-informed teens ever. I think careers advice is absolute garbage in this country – pick a random career and they’ll give you a leaflet about it. Okay, thanks. What we don’t get told about (unless you’re at the most elite of schools) is how important internships and networking are, how being in the right place at the right time is how so many people get lucky, but you have to put yourself out there, you tailor your CV to what you’re applying for and just go for it, and that you need to be hustling and not waiting for opportunities to land in your lap. This is all stuff I’ve had to work out for myself, but not before wasting years doing jobs I hated, and becoming a school teacher – marking the written work of children whilst wanting to be handing in written work of my own for money instead.
I got to thinking of this as recently as I was introduced to someone who had the exact same name as a girl I went to sixth form college with. It made me wonder what had become of that girl, we hadn’t stayed in touch – truth be told, she was a bit of a cow – but I remembered she’d had her heart set on becoming an actor, and I wondered what she’d ended up doing instead. Shame on me for doubting the dreams of others, after some casual internet stalking I found she was an actor. Mostly regional theatre and panto, a bit part in Silent Witness, but she’d been working steadily since drama school and gets paid to do something she loves. Imagine that, knowing what you want to be at the age of sixteen and going for it. I started looking up other people; a girl who had wanted to be an illustrator when we were teens was doing that, she even had a range of stationery she’d designed being sold in the National Gallery gift shop. The guy who always did the lighting for our A-Level Theatre plays was now doing lighting design for big West End musicals. I started to feel uneasy, and like I’d wasted my adult life not doing what I wanted. In the UK, most schools have compulsory work experience in Year 9 or 10. I did mine at Mizz Magazine (remember that?). I could have followed this up, got another placement at another magazine, got an entry level magazine job after uni – I could have been paid to write this whole time, why did I think that being a writer was something that only happened to other people? My fourteen and a half year old self had thought I could certainly do magazine work experience, why did my 21 year old self think I should work in a dull office after university?
Ah, regrets. It’s horrible to feel that you’re not where you want to be, and that you should have been more ambitious and confident. I wondered if anyone else is feeling the same way, not just to make myself feel better, you understand, but to see if it’s just me who’s anxious about age and career paths. I asked some fellow bloggers, and got a mixed bag of responses. Some knew what they wanted early on and went for it, others also did this but changed direction later on, some (much like me) didn’t act on ambition, and some didn’t have any ambitions and freewheeled around with varying degrees of happiness until they found their niche. In summary – some of us get better careers guidance when we’re younger, some of us just have steely determination to go for what we want, others are working things out for ourselves and going the long route. It’s all okay, as they say – it’s never too late to be who you always wanted to be.
Jemma – Dorkface “I always thought I’d be successful by now.”
“When I was very young, I always, always wanted to be a writer. I was very proud of the fact my stories were always read aloud in class in Primary school, as one of the best each week. And I would spend hours writing stories at home for years. When I became a teenager, I wavered a little. I still wanted to be a writer, and had just as much passion and love for it; but my confidence dipped. I felt like it was probably never going to happen, so why try? A terrible attitude, but it stopped me from writing for a good few years. I explored other creative areas throughout my teens, such as photography and Art. Once it became time for me to go to college, I decided to try the best of both world; I wanted to study English Lit, and Art. Unfortunately fate got in the way. I was told those two courses clashed with each other, and if I did manage to work around a hectic timetable, it would still only be part time Art, studying Fine Art only. I realised I’d be missing out on Graphic Design, Textiles, Photography, and so much more, and I couldn’t bare to part with my new creative ambitions. So I decided to study full time Art.
I’m incredibly grateful I did this now, as there are so many wonderful things that came from this decision. However I’m still a passionate writer, who regularly writes short stories, poetry and articles for a range of websites (in fact a lot are for art websites, which combines both of my passions).
I do think about not being where I ‘should’ be often which sucks, as I feel so behind. I feel like I’m just getting by, and I always thought I’d be ‘successful’ in some way by now. But I focus on the big picture. Im doing something I love, I get by, and have a great life. I no longer feel held back by certain niches or like I have to put myself in a box. I’m more ambitious than ever, and I still dream of getting a book published one day. The main source of my happiness is because I feel like I can do anything! If only I could tell my teenage self!”
Jordan – Hello Miss Jordan “I never really followed the ambition.”
“When I was a teenager I always wanted to be on the West End, but I never really followed the ambition in the end because I felt like I wasn’t ever good enough to do it. My ambition has definitely changed since then, and now my goal would be to grow my Instagram as much as possible and travel more for it. I’m still not where I’d like to be, but I’m getting there, and hopefully all my hard work will pay off in the end. I don’t feel like I should be somewhere by a certain age, I’ve always been pretty chill about that haha.”
Rhianna – Rihanna Olivia “I’m not 100% where I want to be right now.”
When I was a teenager, I wanted to be an architect. But I was told I needed to be half decent at maths to do architecture at Uni (which I definitely wasn’t – I am horrible at maths) so I never pursued it. After putting that dream to bed, I decided I wanted to be a product designer – and actually did pursue it! I did Product Design at GCSE, A Level and as a degree at university, too. I did a year-long work placement, and a few months in a graduate role before I decided doing design for a living (especially in a fast paced agency) wasn’t at all for me. It was way too stressful and took all the joy out of it. Around the same time as my work placement I started blogging, which ignited whole new passions in me. I suddenly had this passion for writing, social media and all things digital. Based entirely on the experience I’d gained from my blog, I got a role in digital marketing & social media and I’ve never looked back! I’m not 100% where I want to be right now in terms of the specific role, but this is definitely the industry for me, and I never would have thought of it being a viable career option for me if it weren’t for starting a blog. And I still do pursue my passion for design by doing it on the side of my full time job.
Kaye – Kaye Fordography “Ten years later, here I am.”
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do until I was 17, and then decided to be a photographer, and bam, ten years later here I am. Not sure my answer will be quite as interesting as others!”
Sammy – Little Fickle “I guess I am where I want to be, really.”
“When I was a teenager I wanted to be a chef, and I did follow it for a bit, but the long hours REALLY weren’t for me. I went back to uni when I was 22, and all of my friends were a year into graduate jobs and getting promotions, so I definitely felt I should be doing something ‘more’ by that age, but seeing everyone of all ages at uni is so reassuring. I developed a love for languages, and now I’m pursuing that, so I guess I am where I want to be, really.”
Maria – Maria J Blogs “I’m doing what I dreamed of, in a different form.”
“When I was a teenager I wanted to work in magazines. I had no idea what I wanted to do but I knew The Devil Wears Prada was my favourite film, and that I wanted to be in that world. I spent my time cutting pieces out of magazines and creating pin boards full of collections, almost like mini mood boards and real life Pinterest! I knew I wanted to do something at a magazine that involved putting things together and creating something, but never actually anything specific.
I suppose I did follow that ambition in some way, what I do on a daily basis now as a full time blogger is curate my own content and put things together to make something bigger. You could say I’m doing exactly what I dreamed of, but in a different form, without having known I was even heading that way when I started my blog.
My ambition has sort of changed, even though I can pick parts of my old dreams out and see them in what I’m doing with my blog and social media at the minute, I don’t want to work at a magazine anymore so that’s where it’s different. But I can really see parts of my past hobby in my current job, and I’m definitely not looking to change anything other than to build up success! In terms of age pressure, I’m only 20, so really I’m just winging it for a few years. I’m younger than most of my blogger friends so I don’t feel a lot of pressure. I think it’s better to enjoy life and go for it rather than staying safe and sensible.
Sophie – Sophie Rose “I was sure that by age 25 I’d be well on my way.”
“I used to adore learning, but uni sucked that out of me, and I only studied my geography degree because it was the only subject I was good at (and I wanted to be a weather girl). I never even considered apprenticeships, etc. I wish I had! I never thought that at age 24 (nearly 25) I’d have a pretty useless 2:2 degree and not even really be on the way to establishing a career. I was sure that by age 25 I’d be well on my way. I am currently trying to change it all, but it’s so hard. I’d love to be a paramedic or a nurse, but don’t have the relevant qualifications or experience.
It’s amazing that so many bloggers and influencers are smashing it at the moment and becoming incredible girl bosses, but it’s also adding an extra layer of pressure because I’m not a girl boss and I’m not sure I ever will be.”
Photos are copyright of the bloggers taking part