A memory popped up on my Facebook feed a few weeks ago and it’s been on my mind ever since. It was a photo from my graduation day 3 years ago, looking the most academic I’ll probably ever look in my life, in my big long gown and cap and a beaming smile on my face. I was proud, excited and nervous all in one, and I couldn't quite believe my University years were over.
I didn’t actually know what I wanted to do with my life when I graduated. Although I studied Law with French, I realized midway through my degree that Law wasn't the career for me, so I completed the course anyway, enjoyed myself, and tried to figure out what I did want to do. I considered going into Journalism, perhaps Marketing or PR, or maybe Law later down the line, but in reality, I didn't really have a clue.
In my head, the plan was to backpack around Asia with Matt, explore Canada for 1 year, and then most probably return to England, get a job, and get stuck into life as an adult (job, house, car, ring, dog, babies, etc).
Little did I know, that big old plan wouldn’t quite work out the way we’d anticipated, and that the exploring Canada part would last ever so slightly longer than a year. That my desire to travel wouldn’t fade, but only grow stronger and deeper, and that a 9-5 job didn’t actually fit me at all.
If you’d have asked me 3 years ago where I thought I’d be at 25, I’d have probably said living in London, in some kind of corporate job, maybe even on our way to buying a house. If you’d have said that i'd be living in Vancouver, working for myself, with a whole new network of people around me, running a blog and travelling for a living, i’d have straight up laughed in your face. I really would have.
This life would never have seemed stable or settled enough for that girl at graduation. I enjoyed travelling back then, but it was more to escape to a sunny place rather than a burning desire to explore new places. I thought 25 was SO old and that if I didn't have my sh*t figured out (i.e. house, marriage, etc) by now then i’d be massively failing at life. I’m sure more than a few of you can relate to that feeling.
Now that i’m here, I realise that 25 is so YOUNG! I realise that although I haven't reached those goals from 3 years ago, I actually do have things figured out and I've honestly never felt happier or more proud. I have a great job that I love, an amazing guy by my side, a lovely apartment, and although i'm not a millionaire yet, I earn enough money to live comfortably and enjoy life, which is a really fortunate position to be in.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that life after graduation isn’t anything that I expected it to be. It is SO much better!
I think every now and then, it's important to reflect on the goals and aspirations we once set ourselves and appreciate how life has turned out, even if things haven’t gone to plan.
I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with the more traditional path of marriage, house, babies, etc, because I want all of those things too later down the line.
But, I also think we need to let go of this idea that we have to conform to a certain timeline or lifestyle because actually, our lives are unique to us, and to us only.
It's so easy to get sucked into comparisons and social norms, and when we're young we put so much pressure on ourselves to “be” something or someone by a certain age. But the reality is, these plans are there for guidance – they aren’t definitive and you never know what will happen.
Even if your best friend owns a house and you don’t, or if your friends are all getting married or having babies and you don't want that, it doesn’t mean you’re behind or failing, it just means your journey is different. Even if now, 3 years after graduating you decide you want to change career completely, you haven’t wasted 3 years of your life, you’re just working towards a different goal.
Ultimately, we'll never have things figured out, and life will always throw curveballs that will change the course of our path. But when that happens, we just need to adapt, stay accountable, and carve out the life that WE want to live regardless of our age or social pressures.
Be grateful and be proud of how far you’ve come so far, create your own path, and you do you.
And make your 22-year-old-self proud.
I’d love to hear your comments on this below and how your thoughts and feelings have changed post-graduation. It’s always nice hearing about people’s journeys, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who sometimes feels there’s a bit of pressure to “be” a certain something or someone by a certain age! Ultimately though, we need to let our choices be dictated by what we want to get out of life & remember that we have the ability to carve out our own paths 🙂
If you’d have told 22 year old me me where I’d be at almost 25 (just graduated, about to move to Edinburgh, having fallen crazy in love with Canada) I wouldn’t have believed it either. My younger sister and cousins both just brought houses and some of my friends have; for a couple of months I felt a bit out of place and like I was “behind” them. It took a minute for me to realise that they’re doing the right thing for them and where they are in their lives, and that’s not what’s right for everyone. I work in a hotel bar and everyone is in the 18 to 28 age bracket and that also really helped me to understand that age isn’t important and everyone has got their own goals and dreams, and they might not line up with mine and that’s fine.
Yessss girl I love this!! It’s so crazy how things work out and as much as you plan, you never actually know what’s going to happen! I’m glad you can relate and I totally agree, it’s fine for everyone’s goals and dreams to be different. You’ve achieved so much already & not many people can say that by 25 🙂 Keep being fab! xx
Dear Alicia, Your post it’s exactly what I was questioning myself lately. I’m 25 years old, also living in Vancouver. Actually just moved to live here and trying to figured out what to do with my life next. Your post gave me a lot of great tips and answers. This to “be” really annoying me tooo much;))) lol. Feel like I just wanna be me, find my way and to have more clear vision. Thank you soooo much for sharing with us your feelings 🙂
Hey Eva. Ah i’m so glad you can resonate and that you found the post helpful 🙂 Where did you move to Vancouver from? Yes the having to “be” something is totally annoying isn’t it! Just do you & what you feel is right, otherwise the only person that ends up unhappy is you! At the end of the day, we all have very different paths so you’ve just got to follow the one that suits you best! xx