Sunday, 16 February 2020

Life Isn't 'One Size Fits All'

Imagine gathering one hundred people in the same room. You give them all the same pair of shoes and smile at them as they gawp back. 

'Well, try them on then.' You instruct. 

Some slide their foot in perfectly and stand proud. Another forces themselves in until their toes are squashed and suffocated. Another can't get them on at all and throws them at the floor with frustration. 

What does this have to do with anything? You ask. 

Well, isn't it life?

When I was studying for my A-levels, university was pushed as the way forward. Sure, some people left to take on apprenticeships but most of the ones who made it until the end were going to pursue higher education. 

So then we went to university. Now we'd made it, surely? But this stage comes with its own personal pressures. You're told that you should definitely meet the love of your life there, because that's what that friend's parents did, right? But first, you should kiss a lot of people and sleep around to 'get it out of your system' and 'experiment.' If you haven't experimented enough, then you haven't been free enough and then you definitely haven't had the correct experience. 

But what if it doesn't work this way? 
What if you stand in a club and see no one you'd want to share saliva with? 
What if you don't want to have sex? 

What if you don't meet the person you want to marry?
What if you don't want to be with anyone at all?
Does that mean you've failed the type of experience that has been stuffed down your throat? 

Of course not. 

And the example of university is a microcosm. This applies to a much bigger picture. 

If we're talking about adherence to societal ideas my life is pretty ordinary, at least at face value. I went to a village primary school, sat too many exams in secondary school and decided to pursue further academic stress at university. I want to live in the city and have a good career, before moving to the countryside and raising children. How twee. 

But what if my life doesn't follow this timeline? What if I have my first child in the city or don't reach the top of my career before committing to this huge life change? What if, for some reason, I don't have children at all?

People around me are already subverting the big 'life experience' timeline. My Facebook feed is covered with babies, whose parents are my age. At first, I thought they were mad. I didn't understand why you would want to devote your life to the nurturing of another's at such an early point. But surely they look at me and think I'm bonkers. I'm often stressed out of my mind with deadlines and frequently burn myself out with trying to balance so many things at once. They will burn themselves out too, however, in very different ways. Not better or worse, just different. 

So, in essence, no experience is right. Whether you sleep with loads of people at university, have children at nineteen or want to move to the countryside - it doesn't matter. Nothing should be applauded as the right decision, because who has the authority to make such a call? 

Some people would applaud me for going to university and scorn others for creating a family at this age. But not so long ago, it would have been the other way around. I would have been looked down upon for pursuing academics and be warned to swap the book in my hands for a baby - and pronto. 

So we need to stop. Stop trying to ascribe our own ideas of how to live on other people. It's not a wise idea as we're all so different, and isn't variety the spice of life?

At the end of it all every one of us are just human, trying to navigate what is a strange but rather extraordinary world. 


  1. Variety is indeed the spice of life, your writing is the spice of MY life!
    Great post loz xx

  2. I feel this post in my gut. We shouldn't be looking down on others for their choices or the path life has taken them down - children, career, city, countryside, whatever. Thanks for the reminder.

    1. I'm so glad it resonated with you, no problem at all x