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 🙂