Great Expectations

Ambition. This is a very new phenomenon to me, and I’m finding it somewhat disconcerting. I’ve always rather proudly announced that I don’t have ambition, I’m not a go-getter. I just ‘fell’ into the day job, and I’m quite happy as long as I’m having a good time and my family and friends are well and happy. This has all changed in the last year. I now have something which wanky people might call ‘drive’.

Since March 2011 I have, somewhat unwittingly, set myself various goals. What is remarkable is that I have, almost without exception, achieved them all. I’m not going to turn this post into a list-blog about how brilliant I am (at showing off), but they started off small and achievable and have recently become much larger and more difficult to achieve – yet I am not daunted. I have become a go-getter, I am just like Veruca Salt – I want the world!

When I was 15, I thought I was going to be an actress. I always liked performing, and participated in every school play, even the terrible Spring term ones which nobody really put any investment into. It was in one of these plays, on opening night, that something happened, dashing my expectations of becoming a board treader. I was playing a girl in a nightclub and I was supposed to be slow dancing to the Oleta Adams hit song, Get Here (oh the irony!), with a boy who was in the year below. Our cue arrived, but he wasn’t in the wings – he was nowhere to be found. I had to go on stage and slow dance, in front of an audience of my peers, on my own. I then had to deliver my line, to nobody. There was a pause the length of eternity and he suddenly ran onto the stage, doing up his flies, and delivered his line. I remember so vividly the mortification I felt at that moment, and the knowledge that no matter what I had done to make sure my performance as a nightclub filly was the best it could be, I could never have predicted that he would decide to go for a piss at the exact moment we were supposed to be on stage – it was outside of my control. Of course I continued without blinking, despite the giggles and the awkwardness the show must go on, but it was at that point I decided I couldn’t pursue a dream if I was not in control of the outcome, no matter what that outcome was. It was much better to just have no expectations and then you can avoid getting hurt or let down. Thus I carried on my career at school and then in life.

For so many years I was scared of humiliation, scared of failure, so I never invested any of myself into anything I did, I just sat back and enjoyed the ride. But I’m not scared any more, I’m putting my dreams out there and it looks like my dormant megalomania is about to erupt spewing hubris across the internet, and then the silver screen.

I’m alive and excited and completely self-obsessed, but thankfully this is all happening at an age where I have enough self-awareness to know I don’t want to be a bad egg, like poor old Veruca. I need to manage my expectations by managing my perspective.

Here are some things that my 15 year old self expected for my 35 year old self.

I expected to be a grown up, I expected to have children, I expected to have met my soul mate, I expected to have visited every country in the world, I expected to have stopped expecting. None of these things have happened. However, I do not feel disappointed because…I didn’t expect to have such solid and enduring friendships, I didn’t expect both my parents to still be alive, I didn’t expect to have such a good relationship with my family, I didn’t expect to have been to so many countries (yes I am aware of the contradiction here) I didn’t expect to be pursuing a dream. These surprising revelations are so much better than my youthful expectations, how could I have any regrets? So before I take over the world, I need to remember what a wise man once said:

‘Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while,
you could miss it.’

It certainly does Ferris, and I’m not gonna miss a minute.

3 thoughts on “Great Expectations

  1. Great post. I thought you would take pleasure in the fact that I read it in Balthazar’s in Manhattan:-)


  2. I wanted to be an actress as well when I was younger…I took many acting lessons and all, but I decided that to act was not my real dream, so I changed directions… as you. And the same as you, Im planning to achieve so many dreams right now. Because I agree, 30s is the age when you realize you are still young and pretty and with energy, but you already have some experience in life, and that is self awareness. Lets keep fighting for it Jane, we will talk to our little 15 year old “us” and we will be calmed and happy.


  3. SO well said. I think actually being able to change your thoughts and ambitions is the most important thing. Not trying to stick to them, just because you thought/said you would.


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