The Hell Butterfly

In Which the Future is the Letter ‘Y’

You learn to tie your shoes, chew with your mouth shut, be polite to your elders, respect money. You are taught that nothing comes without hard work, and you appreciate that. You are expected to grow up. You are supposed to know exactly what you want to spend the rest of your life on.

It’s so easy to get lost in the middle.

You go from where you are, to thinking about the future, and can get stuck in the great expanse between. You know you should strive to something more, always more. Always better. You must get focused, forge your path, know where it ends and never stray. But there are big bad wolves and pot-holes that try and drag you from it, and this is what they don’t tell you about.

Figuring out your future is one of the hardest thing you will ever have to do.

I am 21 years and 7 months old and I still have no idea.

At 8 I wanted to be a bartender. At 12 I wanted to be a writer. At 20 I still wanted to be a writer, only I was just beginning to learn I wasn’t very good at it. Now, part of me wants to be a firefighter. But let’s get real, I’m too lazy for that. I know myself, I’d never get off my arse long enough to get fit for the job. My only passion in life has been music and books. I’m not a good enough singer to start a band and can’t play an instrument. I know nothing about tech so I could never become a technician in the business. I can’t write creatively or even critically, so I’ll never be an author or a journalist. I guess that leaves me with one option – I must open a library and become one of these people who spends my life with my nose in a book and my torso in a knitted jumper.

Although, I do like baking. I only ever considered it as an ideal-world scenario but at this point, what else have I got? I’ve had this dream of opening a tea and cake shop. Maybe I should do a bakery course and get a qualification, move abroad and bring my British tea shop to Tenerife, or Vermont.

Knowing where you will be in 10 years time is impossible. Unless you are one of these people who know exactly what you want and have the passion, determination and skill to get there – which is not most people – then you will likely find it very hard to decide where you want to be.

I’ve spent the last 17 or so years in education, and am about to finish my degree in English. I feel like it was pointless. Honestly, I do. £21,000 of debt just for the course and more on top for what my Dad subs me in order to pay my rent and buy food. I’m out of pocket, and still I have no idea what I want to be doing with my life. At this rate I will be moving back home with my parents with no job and a next to useless degree before the Summer is out. I hate it. I don’t want to go back there, back to a place in my head where I have nothing going for me. True, I have a boyfriend now, but unless I suddenly want to dedicate myself to becoming a stay-at-home wife and mother – highly highly unlikely I assure you – then that won’t make much of a difference. It may mean I will want to live here in Plymouth instead of Basingstoke but that means I need a flat. To get a flat I need cash and to get cash I need a job. My Dad says he wants me to aim higher than minimum wage – and he says it in a way that makes it sound like I was going to aim that low – but if I need to work minimum wage for a year to save enough cash to move out then so be it.

It’s so overwhelming it hurts my head. Seriously, I have a headache right now. So far it has been easy enough. I see it as a giant Y. Up until now I have been travelling up in one sraight line: education. School, college, university. It has kept me going on one track my whole life. But, come May, that track will split off into a massive cone and I will have the entire world to jump into. It’s like I’ve been learning to swim in the shallow end with my Mum, with armbands, without armbands, putting blood sweat and tears into the task, and right when I think I’ve got the hang of it I’ve been thrown off a cliff into the ocean covered in blood to fend off thousands of sharks.

I’m terrified.

I have mere months until I must decide where I’ll work, what career to start, where I’ll live, how I’ll survive. I’m not ready. I’ve never been ready. I’ve been ignorant, letting the protective bubble of Education shut me off from the real world and it’s about to shatter to reveal that all along the walls were mirrors and all I could see was me and my little slice of ignorance. But there is a bigger world, with bigger people and bigger problems. I am so scared.

Is anyone ever prepared for the jump?

I have to wonder …

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