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.
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!
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.
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?