Life: Is this how you imagined it?

Do you remember that task in primary school, when we were asked to write about our future life and how we imagined it might turn out? I am guessing that many of us might have said something along the lines of being married, working as a teacher (we all LOVED our primary school teachers back then, didn’t we?) with 2.4 children and a cat. Standard.

child writing a story pan xiaozhen

Expectations vs Reality

Lately I find myself spending a considerable amount of time trying to stay warm on the side of a rugby pitch. Call it sexist if you will but in my thirties, as a mum to two little girls, I never pictured this in my 40-something life. Don’t girls do ballet or take singing lessons?

As my husband and I walked along the headland in Cornwall the other week, a dog apiece, I remarked on the fact that neither of us ever thought we would be doing this. In an ideal world, the children who had begged for the dogs would be doing it, but that’s another story! What I mean, is that I wouldn’t class myself as an animal-lover and we are both pretty mess-averse.  Neither of these suggest a dog in the future, let alone two!

Bedruthan Steps in Cornwall

Seven years ago we decided to try our hands at skiing. With both of us over 40 and neither of us having attempted it before, we were taking a risk. These days we are both counting down the days until Europe will be submerged under a blanket of snow once again and we can resurrect the skis.

Life isn’t always positive

When inspiration struck for this post, I was going to give it the title: ‘10 things I never thought I would be doing in my 40s‘. In my head, these things would all be positive. In reality, that wasn’t the case.

Many of you will already know my story of parenting a child with mental illness and whilst I would never have envisaged this as part of our lives (who would?) something immensely positive has come out of it. Four months ago, I began my journey as a volunteer crisis counsellor for a text line and I absolutely love it. I am a firm believer that even when bad things happen, something good can be salvaged from the ‘wreck’ that you’re dealing with at the time.

Can we over-plan our life?

Another stumbling block to that original post title, was the fact that I couldn’t think of 10 things. If you can, then I reckon you’re winning at life!

Some people say that we need to plan our lives and set goals because that’s the only way we will achieve them. To a degree they are right – ‘fail to plan, plan to fail‘ and all that. But I think there’s a danger in this approach; our lives might be so heavily mapped out that we have nothing at all to write on our ‘things we never thought we would be doing‘ list.

sun shining in Les Gets

I find this a sad prospect. What is life if there isn’t room for a little risk-taking and some spontaneity on the side? We might even find that something totally unexpected comes our way when we aren’t completely fixated on The Plan. Drafting this post made me realise that by the time I reach my mid 50s, I hope to have at least 10 things on my ‘Things I never thought I would be doing‘ list. Who’s with me?

Has your life turned out the way you imagined it?

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20 Comments

  1. November 8, 2018 / 11:43 am

    Oh it never does quite go to plan does it? I never would have imagined that I’d be in the situation I’m in now, but I’m at a point at the moment where I’m genuinely the most happy and content I’ve ever been. And my biggest worry is that something is going to go wrong and ruin it! I agree though that it’s good to be spontaneous and do things that don’t fit your ‘plan’. We can only hope that the things that happen outside of the plan are mostly positive.
    Nat.x

    • Suzanne W
      Author
      November 8, 2018 / 11:29 pm

      I know that feeling of worrying that something might burst the bubble you’re in. It’s about learning just to live in the moment and be thankful isn’t it? Inevitably something will happen that is less than desirable and then you’ll need all the resources that you banked in the good times. x

  2. November 8, 2018 / 11:53 am

    You’re so right, Suzanne, life doesn’t always turn out the way we expect it to – but often it can be better. My husband’s Gran always used to say ‘what’s for you won’t go by you’, and I think she was totally right on that. Sometimes you don’t get the things you want, you get the things you needed. There’s a few things that haven’t turned out as I expected them to when I was younger but I’m absolutely happy with that. I’m with you on taking the positive out of every situation – I read something good on that the other day. It was along the lines of not asking ‘why is this thing happening to me?’ but rather ‘what can this situation teach?’ xx

    • Suzanne W
      Author
      November 9, 2018 / 8:27 pm

      ‘Sometimes you don’t get the things you want, you get the things you need’ – I’m a BIG believer in this, Gail. Being a Christian, I believe that God has things for us and those things will come our way but I also believe that we have free will so we need to be on the look out at least! You’re .a wise lady. xx

  3. November 8, 2018 / 11:53 am

    Oh I love this post hunny and you have done well to come out of your confort zones too. I need to do more of this!!!

    • Suzanne W
      Author
      November 9, 2018 / 8:28 pm

      Jenny, I think you’ve got enough on your plate right now! I imagine your life has turned out quite different to how you thought it would – living in the UK for starters! xx

  4. November 8, 2018 / 1:20 pm

    Hi Suzanne, I’ve been thinking about expectations and ambitions so much in the past few months! I had a pretty clear vision of my future while I was still a teenager: university & fashion degree, fashion career, marriage, kids, switch to teaching/managerial role, and eventually writing in my “spare time”. Little did I know that I was going to end up living the country, with chickens in the barn, spending most of my career as a stay-at-home-mom. I think I ended up way out of my comfort zone… and I’m working on reconnecting with those visions I had as a teen. 🙂 Nipa

    • Suzanne W
      Author
      November 8, 2018 / 11:14 pm

      I think it’s important to be out of our comfort zones sometimes isn’t it? But yes, your life seems very far removed from your original plan! I can see that you’re already reverting to some of those visions though 🙂

  5. November 8, 2018 / 4:08 pm

    What a lovely, positive post! I don’t suppose I ever imagine myself working on my own at home. It has its ups and downs, but it’s definitely one of the best things I’ve ever done! I actually never saw myself signing up for a marathon either, but I’ve done it! Now I just need to train for it and run it! 25 weeks to go…

    • Suzanne W
      Author
      November 8, 2018 / 11:13 pm

      Well I think that’s fabulous! It’s great to surprise ourselves sometimes isn’t it? I regularly find myself standing on stage, talking in front of a few hundred people and have to prod myself a bit. As a shy child/teenagers, I would NEVER have imagined I would have the courage to do that.

  6. November 8, 2018 / 4:12 pm

    Suzanne,

    Every so often, I get together with a group of old friends. Some years ago, when most of us were fiftyish, I asked them: “Would you say that your life has turned out more or less the way that you expected?” Nobody was willing to say “Yes” — not even the people who had pursued vocational careers.

    I expected to do some reverse parenting, and I did. One of the unexpected consequences was that I started a blog.
    I didn’t expect ever to see my reclusive cousin Naomi again, but I did [ https://bleke4.wordpress.com/2017/02/13/monday-13-2-12-forty-years-on/ ], and now I’m part of her support group — you could call it sideways parenting.

    • Suzanne W
      Author
      November 8, 2018 / 11:12 pm

      I’m surprised that no one was willing to say ‘yes’. I think mine has in many ways and whilst that’s nice, I think it shows that there’s room for some spontaneity/risk taking! Probably starting a blog was one of my unexpected pleasures too 🙂

  7. Jackie
    November 8, 2018 / 10:22 pm

    Replying here not on SM….I’m just going through this currently. That as I went into a clinic at 14, I had a real hope that I’d finally been ‘ill enough’ for someone to help me.
    Instead what I said wasn’t what they wanted… and I fearfully turned to silence and inwards on myself. I’ve not noticed this before….if they’d listened, helped me where I was… How very different the last 25 years may have been. I’m not at all what I dreamt or hoped for. Sorry- just struck a cord with what’s on my mind right now.

    • Suzanne W
      Author
      November 8, 2018 / 10:38 pm

      You know what, Jackie? Even if they had ‘heard’ you, I’m not sure there is anything adequate in place to help people either then, or now. I’m really sorry if my words caused you to feel sad and bring back negative memories, that wasn’t my intention. Don’t be sorry, it’s important to recognise that for some people, life is so very far from what they wanted it to be. For what it’s worth, I think you’ve done a remarkable job of salvaging something positive out of a very negative experience. xx

  8. November 10, 2018 / 6:17 pm

    We work best both ways, a bit of spontaneity but a lot of planning. We all like to have things mapped out, it’s just in our make up but then honestly I love when life surprises us, only when it’s positive of course. Lovely post x

  9. November 12, 2018 / 3:56 pm

    My life is DEFINITELY not how I planned it out. At all. I’ve literally done everything backwards. And I certainly wasn’t expecting to be pregnant at 23 and have three babies in the space of three years. I wouldn’t have it any other way of course – I like that life is full of surprises even though there is a big part of me (the control freak part) that wishes it was all mapped out in advance. But that would be boring, wouldn’t it? 😉

    • Suzanne
      Author
      November 13, 2018 / 3:58 pm

      Yes I think I feel exactly the same. Your life really does seem incredibly different to how you had imagined it. – I reckon you’re winning so far ! xx

  10. November 12, 2018 / 9:13 pm

    I have never thought about it before, but my aim was always to progress my career in education I was so shocked when I fell out of love with it, almost mourned it, now I look back and wonder why I put so much into thankless job, the kids were incredible but when they stopped being the main focus of the institution I just could not get my head around it. So being a blogger and stay at home Mum was never ever in my career plan I was so ambitious, thank god I woke up and realised I needed to be home more for the boys. Thank god I was here last year for Joe it doesn’t bare thinking about that he would have gone through all the bullying alone, that we had been to busy to see the signs, thought provoking post Suzanne xx

  11. November 13, 2018 / 4:02 pm

    Oh gosh, my life is absolutely nothing like I expected it to be! When I was 18 I’d planned on becoming a journalist and travelling the world for work – not getting married at 21 and living in the north west of England! Who knows what will happen next! xx

  12. December 5, 2018 / 1:11 pm

    Oh I love this post. I always just wanted to be happy, just like my parents, and I am. Happier than I could imagine. Of course I have bad days like everyone else and I do worry about the future and what ‘could’ happen, but I try as much as possible to embrace the now and enjoy these 3 little babies of mine.

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