What to do with my life? (So much to know about life still)
As a teen, I never knew what to do with my life. I’m rapidly approaching 40 and I’m still finding that there is lots to know about life.
My frustration as a kid was that nobody could help me decide what career to choose. Of course, we had career advisers, though their advice was little more than “decide what you want to do”.
All I knew was that I wanted to leave school, get a job and find something that would pay well. The problem I had is that for all of the advice given and the conversations had, I always struggled to find out what “well-paid” was, and what jobs would fall into that bracket.
In the 22 years that I have been working (and wow, that makes me feel old), I have set my sights on many career paths and followed many opportunities. They’ve resulted in various levels of success, from badly-paid menial jobs to well-paid management roles and everything in between.
There have been periods of redundancy and unemployment, flirtations with self-employment, side jobs, evening work and God knows what else.
Yet here I am, at an age when I figured I’d know about life and what career I should do (or rather be doing). Yet I don’t.
I took some exams at the end of last year as I saw my then-employers starting to struggle. Those exams have given me a proper qualification for a new role in the finance sector that I have worked in for 12 years now. A role dealing with mortgage advice.
It sounds stuffy and dull, and no doubt the sort of thing that my teenaged self would have sneered at as something boring old men called Nigel would do. But it feels right. I have an interest in property. I like talking to people and cross-selling. It’s commission-based work, so pays ok. But can I really say that this is what I should do with my life? That’s a hard one.
That’s not to say it isn’t what I want to do right now. It is. And I hope that I enjoy it enough, and am successful enough to do it for the rest of my life. But then I have felt that about jobs in the past.
Of course, work is only one facet of life.
There are many different things that I can reflect on and judge about myself and what I’ve done.
I can look back and be proud of certain things. I can look back and feel sadness at other events.
The truth is, at this age I really expected to be more settled and have more going for me. Rather than that, the last 8 years or so have, in reality, been difficult.
A divorce at the age of 30 still has ripples on the pool of my life, and where I had once hoped I’d be entering a phase where the mortgage on a nicely-sized house would start to see an end in sight, I am instead renting a flat.
I thought that I would be able to start turning my focus towards providing driving lessons and university fees for my kids as they enter that phase of their lives, but that’s looking more and more unlikely too.
Not that I’m looking to apportion blame. Far from it. The road in life has so many twists and turns, just because you chose one path doesn’t mean you’d be better or worse than if you had chosen another. You can never tell.
But I look back back to my time at school and wonder. If I knew what I wanted to do in life. If I had an idea of what career I should do. More importantly, if I knew what certain career paths could earn me, then maybe things would be very different now.