Expectation versus the real world

I've been having a bit of an existential crisis lately.  So I thought, what better way to celebrate the questioning of my own existence than to list all the things I thought I would have achieved by the age of 24? So here's an invitation to feel better about yourself.

A great job

I thought this one would be a given straight out of university, so imagine my surprise when I found out the hard way how the world actually works. Three years later I am still in pursuit of the perfect job, drowning in self-doubt, and the only things I have solid experience in are job interviews and feeling sorry for myself. And balancing an entire avocado on one crumpet, but that's another story for another day.

The ability to fold

When I was younger I would watch with fascination when my mother folded my clothes. But rather than pretending my folding skills couldn't progress beyond that of a two year old's as a cunning plan to get her to do the dirty work, I just couldn't do it. There was no pretending involved. And no matter how much I've tried in the years since - which isn't much - I still cannot fold to save my life. Luckily, such a bizarre situation will probably never arise, so I'm not too worried.

A solid grasp of the world

As a child I always assumed that adults just knew stuff, and that as I got older, so would I. But I'm starting to think that knowing stuff might require some effort. Not being able to point out a country on a map, understand the history of Britain, or list any presidents before George Bush makes me feel a bit uneasy, but thinking of the effort it would require to learn them makes me feel even worse.

A second language

The English language is a blessing and a curse. Yes, it is delightfully ubiquitous, but this fosters complacency. I've never really tried to learn another language because I've never had to. Also, after five years of learning German in school and coming away with the words for 'ice skating' and 'rabbit', I realised my capacity for learning a second language is not my strong point. I've since been trying to make up for it by goodening my grasp of English.


Yes, I have stopped saying "that's what she said" after everything, but I still don't feel as grown up as I should. A prime example of this is the stickers decorating my laptop screen. Oh, and the plastic children's plates and bowls I use every day. The day I stop getting enjoyment from uncovering a friendly illustration at the end of a meal is the day I start enjoying trips to B&Q.

A sport

My school PE lessons have left me scarred. But despite how much I loathed the single lesson on a Tuesday afternoon and the double on Thursday mornings (such trauma never is never forgotten), I always thought I would grow into it. I envisioned a spot of tennis after work and quick games of badminton on the weekend. Alas, my hatred for sport is terminal, and I'm okay with that.

A house

I used to think that by my mid-twenties I'd own one of those modern houses that was made completely out of glass. It would be in London, but somehow, I envisioned looking out of the window and seeing the most picturesque woodland that even the Lake District couldn't match.

But if I squint really hard and turn my head to one side, my metre-long, mouldy bathroom with my flatmate's mystery water bottle of wee in the corner kind of looks like a en-suite with a jacuzzi.

A well-used passport

When I was at university I was determined that when I left I would never stay in one place for too long. I'd travel around the world and work would come easily wherever I was. I'd live in America for a bit, maybe Paris if I could stand to be so close to home. Well Paris did sort of happen, except I went on holiday there for five days in 2011 and that was the last time I left the country.


  1. Haha, this is hilarious. I definitely don't have the ability to fold, so much so that I bought a clothes folder from ebay for £5, it has actually changed my life!

    1. Oh my god, I never knew such a thing existed! My 'clothes folder' is my hair straighteners. Work like a charm!

  2. Job
    By 24, I had landed a job as an editorial assistant at a small publishing firm that produced genre sci-fi and crap porn. On £10,000 a year (which, believe me, wasn't that much more money then).

    I still don't know how to do this.

    It comes slowly. And you do have to work at it. And I'm still shit at pub quizzes.

    Second language
    If you don't have one by the time you leave school, you never will. Unless you get a foreign job or a foreign lover.

    I still don't know how to do this. Not sure why anyone would, TBH.

    I do not want to know how to do this.

    Are you f**king kidding me???

    Again, the time thing. And again, you have to work at it.

    Conclusion: never set yourself life goals. Seriously. Just enjoy it.

  3. PS but by the age of 24, I had most definitely NOT been published in the Guardian.

    1. Definitely one of the best comments I've ever had on my blog. Next time I get a job rejection I will think about you and your publishing company of sci-fi and crap porn. Thank you!

      And it's a comfort to know I'm not the only one who can't fold. In fact, I might print of your comment and stick it to my wall.