When I first went to uni I had this idea in my mind of what it would be like to be a career girl. I didn’t even really know what a ‘career girl’ was back then. I just imaged someone who put on a smart, chic outfit every day, travelled into central London and sipped on lattes in the morning and wine after work. I’m not sure exactly what work I imagined I would be doing in between all this coffee drinking, shirt buying and cocktail bar frequenting, but there we go. I was a teenager with a dream, a student loan and a Ford KA. I bloody miss that car.
So now I guess, 6 years later, I am a career person. I have carved out a career in digital communications and social media and it’s going well. I can’t complain on any level about where I’ve got to aged 25. It’s all gone fairly smoothly. There’s been progression, good friends made, good work done, many stressful days and many drunken Friday nights. There has also been many boring days, many ‘omg what I am doing with my life’ days and many mornings where getting out of bed has seemed the worst thing in the world.
What it hasn’t been though, is absolutely anything like I imagined it. The reality is so different than the picture you come up with in your mind of this future you, strutting around the city in expensive shoes, Starbucks in hand, answering phone calls and arranging working lunches. Life is most certainly not an episode of Gossip Girl. It’s more like Hollyoaks with less murder and more hangovers and dancing on kitchen tables because going out to drink is too expensive.
To be honest, I much prefer the reality. I like waking up with just enough time to get ready, potentially not brushing my hair and just throwing it up and rolling into work on a packed, gross tube with my homemade lunch in a Sainsbury’s carrier bag. I know. The glamour.
I wouldn’t say I’m dedicating my life to work, far from it actually, but I have, and continue to put a lot of effort into my career. I don’t want to spend my days doing something I don’t feel is worthwhile. Working makes me feel good, like I’m spending my time wisely, and I’m always learning new things, which I think is a sign things are going okay for me. It’s just a life that is so laughably removed from the glossy ideal.
Working is a slog isn’t it, let’s be honest. Not always a horrible slog, but still. Even when you do a job you love, it’s tiring, it takes a lot of your creative energy, it takes up almost all of your time and everything you do comes back to work in one way or another. Your free time, your holidays, your sleep, your money to fund things and how much you have to spend on living in general.
I salute every young person who’s out there doing the 9-5 (or the 8-6 plus some email checking on the weekends), or whatever your working set up is, good for you for putting in the time and effort to make something of yourself. Everyone has a different idea of what they want to do and what they want to be and there are many different ways that people are doing it. Getting there however is another ball game entirely.
I’m glad I wasn’t fully aware of the red, sore eyes, aching typing fingers, long teleconferences, stress headaches, office politics, feeling and looking like shit on public transport while being touched by strangers and everything else that comes with working life. It would probably have not filled me with drive and ambition the way my shiny, foamy latte imaginary life did.
I’m fully in support of my work life being what it is. I massively CBA to get out of bed and contour my face or throw together a Pinterest-worthy outfit every morning while preparing a to-do list, before making a smoothie and heading off to a coffee shop. Snoozing four times and eating breakfast biscuits over my keyboard with my dry shampoo bun suits me just fine.