On graduations and life and the absence of five year plans

prosecco and fruit

I had one of those crazy busy weekends last weekend. One that crept up on me before I realised what was going on. My little sister graduated from Queens University Belfast on Monday, almost five years to the day from my own undergrad graduation. Saturday-Tuesday consisted of a haze of drinks and meals with my family, and, most importantly, dancing around my sisters flat to Taylor Swift at four in the morning. It was exactly as fun as it sounds. I honestly never have more fun than when I’m with my family, they get my weird sense of humour (because they have it too), put up with me when I’m acting crazy or being a complete grouch and generally don’t judge me for my oddities. Life has been good lately, and it got me to thinking about five year plans, the absence of them for me lately and how my life is turning out in general.

So I spent most of this week trying to recover and catch up with myself and get things organised for Benicassim next week. This post was going to be about Facebook and social media. About how toxic, dangerous and wonderful it can be. But I’m not feeling a heavy topic this week. I’m feeling nostalgic and happy. I’m feeling: ‘look at me, five years on and everything is different’. And it’s nice, so the grim topics can wait will next week, when I can post them from the beach and not think too much about them.

Tuesday was a hungover write off for me, and Wednesday not much different, but Thursday was supposed to be different. Thursday was the day I would get up early, go to the gym, make up a healthy lunch and win at life in general. Thursday was the day I got my routine back on track.

Naturally, I started Thursday feeling guilty that I’d slept in and not gone to the gym, vowing to eat healthily for the rest of the day, and to go to the gym in the evening.

…And I ended Thursday in a bar, with absolutely no guilt about not going to the gym. A friend of mine has just moved back to Belfast and drinking prosecco and wine with friends was sooo much better than the gym. Miles and miles better. We reminisced about back in the day, gossiped, discussed her upcoming wedding and ate pizza for dinner.

Really, it’s just reinforced that I need to go to the gym in the morning because I will choose last minute plans and fun with my friends over exercise every damn time. I’m ok with that, because I’d rather be someone that  has people asking her to meet for prosecco and fun than someone who sticks to her gym routine all the time. (Also, prosecco is like, 500 calories a bottle, so it’s a fairly healthy option if you’re going to drink on a week night)

And I’ve been feeling so darn lucky lately. When I graduated five years ago, I didn’t see myself where I am now. I had a plan that involved a PGCE, completing my first year of teaching and moving abroad to teach. None of that happened.

When I came home from my PGCE four years ago, once the brief period of elation at getting away from teaching and getting to come home after what had been one of the hardest and worst years of my life had passed, I had no idea what I was going to do next. I couldn’t see getting to the point in my life where I knew where I was going, the point where I was certain of myself again. I’m proud that I took the time to figure it out, that I worked horrible, at times soul destroying call centre jobs (you don’t know soul destroying until you listen to someone tell you it’s your fault their Sky TV was cut off because they cancelled their direct debit and didn’t pay their bill), and didn’t rush myself. It was character building, and I made some really good friends working those jobs that I wouldn’t have had a chance to meet otherwise. And I’m especially proud for making it through my MSc, which was probably the second hardest year of my life after my PGCE year.

So much has changed in these past five years. This time five years ago I was a new graduate, bound for England and teaching, I was excited, and so young, although I didn’t know it. Four years ago, I was a little bit broken and traumatised from my year away. Three years ago, I was just starting to feel normal again. Two years ago, my granny had just died and my dad was weeks away from a heart attack and I wasn’t even thinking about my future. Go back just a year  and  I was starting my dissertation, preparing for exams and a complete and utter nutcase (and my family put up with me graciously). I was wondering if I would ever get a job in my field, if it was too soon to start interviewing, how I would manage in an interview situation for a tech job. And now I have that job, and I know that all the decisions I made in the past five years have been the right ones, for the most part.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this. I think it’s probably just a terribly self indulgent post and it’s not very relevant. I’m not even sure what I’m trying to say with it, other than that I’m happy and content and somewhere I never saw myself. That it’s alright if you haven’t got everything figured out in your twenties, because most people don’t, and we aren’t meant to. So, it’s fine if you want to take your time, travel if that’s your thing, but don’t just because you feel like you should. If you change your mind, if you need to slow down, to pause and think about your options, do it. There’s no rush. The average life expectancy in the UK is 81.5 years, so in our twenties we’re not even half way there. And it’s a long time to retirement guys.

And if you’re working at a job you hate and not at all sure what you really want to do with your life, then that’s ok too. You will figure it out.

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