Unless you’ve been sans wifi or 3G in the last week you’ll see that social media has exploded with people posting their #10yearchallenge. I have so far (and don’t plan to) not got involved. No one needs to see photos of me at 18 most likely drunk or in fancy dress…or lets face it both. However, it did get me thinking and it gave me the idea to write about the last ten years. Where I thought I would be and what I wanted to do and where I’ve actually ended up. SPOILER, they are very different.
So as I said, 10 years ago I would have been 18 years old. Finishing up my A Levels (I took English Lit, Sociology and Religious Studies, Philosophy & Ethics for those interested) and was getting ready to head off to university. I was working part time as a waitress at Frankie & Benny’s – the only two good things about that job being the money and that I was working with quite a few of my friends. My plan was to study Law and then take the Bar so I could become a barrister. I had wanted to be a lawyer since I was about 8 years old, something further reinforced by programmes like Cavanagh QC and later Silk. I was most interested in criminal law, I found the whole process of the courts, the criminals and the justice system fascinating. Still do. Let’s just say my Netflix and viewing history is…interesting.
I thought I had everything all mapped out. I’d become a barrister by my mid-twenties, I’d probably be married by my late twenties and then moving to the country in my thirties. Well, none of those things have happened. I loved university, and my course but I decided I didn’t love Law enough to make all the sacrifices I’d have to in order to succeed. I met with a few barristers and solicitors and trust me, you’re in for some VERY long working weeks and for several years. I knew I no longer had the passion for it that I once did and that I should start looking at other work avenues. Long story short I decided on marketing and ended up interning for Hawksmoor (a group of steak and seafood restaurants) the September after graduating. I really enjoyed my three months and wanted to stay…so I did. I had a 6 month stint in the central reservations team before moving back over to the marketing team where I stayed for the next 5 years. Talk about a change of track eh. So there I found myself, unmarried, on a completely different career path and in the hustle and bustle of London not the country. But, that was ok. I’m so glad I made the move into marketing and I really can’t see myself deviating from that – yes I know…PARIS but I’ve explained in previous posts how I got here.
So I guess the question really is where do I see myself now? Did I ever think I’d end up working for the same company for six years? No. Did I know I’d end up working in hospitality? No. Did I expect to end up quitting said job and moving to Paris? No. But that doesn’t mean I’ve failed or that I’ve let my 18 year old self down. I’ve just taken a different path, and made decisions based on what was best for me. There are moments, especially now during this year out, living in a foreign country and learning another language that I think WTF have I done? Why did I make such a big change? But then I remind myself of the reasons why, and of what I’ve learned and achieved since being here. Yes it’s hard, yes I don’t have much money, yes I miss my family and friends but I’ve done it. I’ve learnt that I can live without so many of things I impulse bought before, I’m speaking a new language and improving every day, I’m constantly out of my comfort zone and dealing with that. Jeez, I’ve even taken up ballet at the age of 28!
The truth is, I have absolutely no idea what the next six months will bring let alone thinking about the next ten years. And honestly, as someone who is a ‘planner’ the fact that I don’t know what I’m going to do after I finish au pairing here in France gives me real anxiety. It’s not until July but it’s already something I’m thinking – and worrying – about. In an ideal world I’d be able to find a marketing role and move here to Paris on a more permanent basis. Realistically, I don’t know how easy that is going to be for several reasons. The first, I’ll need to work in English, my French won’t be good enough by then to work solely in French. The second, I want to change sector, from hospitality to beauty/cosmetics. The third, BREXIT. Who knows what that will mean for those of us wanting to live and work abroad. The fourth…it’s difficult to rent here as a foreigner…that among others are notoriously difficult here. There is a lot of red tape…to get my bank account I practically had to provide every bit of documentation I have proving who I am and where I last worked along with that of my host family.
I have also accepted that I may have to go back to England, at least for a little while to work until I can find something back here in Paris. Again, I have no idea what I would be doing. I don’t want to move back to London and I have no idea how I’d work from my parents house in Suffolk…without my own car there I’m basically stuck in the little village they live in. But that’s a bridge I’m going to cross when I get to it and finding work is something I’m going to focus on around May/June time. I’m under no illusion that it’s going to be easy. It isn’t, but I really want this so it’s worth the effort.
All of that being said, I’m glad that ten years on I find myself where I am. Completely out of my comfort zone and challenging myself in ways I never thought I would. I’ve learnt so much in these 5 months, and I’m looking forward to what is to come. So, that’s how I’ve decided to look at the ten year challenge…not so much a challenge but a reflection on what I thought I wanted and where I have ended up. So far away from what I wanted as an 18 year old, but definitely so much better for it.