I started a conversation on MSN the other day with a girl (well, technically a woman now, I suppose!) who I used to go to school with. This is a bit of a rarity for me, because I’ve generally shied away from getting back in contact with old school friends. In truth I think I only said hello because I’d just got back from the pub, which itself is very uncommon. See, I don’t usually like pubs..not being much of a drinker means that pubs are unfamiliar territory for me. I went through a stage of being in pubs a lot of the time, but once I’d done all my serious drinking (this was mostly at university) the novelty sort of wore off. On this occasion, though, I’d gone there as part of a conscious effort to meet some of my new(ish) work colleagues – to recap; the company I work for got taken over last summer and now, rather than being one the only shop of this company in the town, there are six. This means more work colleagues, despite the fact that its unlikely I’ll ever work with any of them (because most shops are self staffing, meaning that people rarely work in more than one of them) In any case, I was invited down for a post-Grand National drink, and I went. And I rather enjoyed myself, which was a surprise, and I had rather more to drink that my usual, and I was therefore rather drunk. (although I did actually have quite a lot to drink; usually I’m anybody’s after 3 or 4!) So when I got in, I was more likely to start conversations with people i’ve not seen for years.
Which brings me back, in a roundabout sort of way, to the point of this entry. I started talking to this woman, who’s called Kim, and with whom I’ve had very little contact in the last 7 or 8 years. See, since I left university, I’ve generally been very down on myself, not having got the degree and all, and for a long time I felt rather inferior because I found myself working in a betting shop. Nowadays though, it doesn’t worry me because doing better, or otherwise, than my peers is really not important to me, and in any case, I’ve worked out that I’m doing better than I thought I was. Okay, so my job isn’t very glamorous, but it pays okay, and I get to do stuff I actually want. like play golf, play on my guitar, have a wide and varied sex life with a large quantity of willing and flexible partners. (OK, so golf & guitars..its a start!) Despite what that lying bastard Batman said in his last film, it’s who I am that defines me, not what I do . And, well, let’s face it….I’m pretty great 😉
It was a strange realisation for me really because although some people I knew at school have done brilliantly for themselves (one guy set up a website about mountain biking and made a fortune) others have got themselves married, or have kids, or aren’t working despite all their super qualifications. So I guess it’s all relative really. (note – I’m not saying the getting married or having children is a bad thing. I want that eventually…I’m just saying that there’s a ‘right time’, if you will. I mean, I really can’t imagine me having had children at 20 or 21. I was still just a kid myself then!)
I think sometimes society, and especially the education system, tries to ingrain in you the feeling that to be anybody you have to do certain things – A levels, university, blah blah blah. I know that me being at a grammar school certainly made me think that way. So that’s what I did. But really, it’s all rubbish because who really knows at 16/17/18 what they want to do with their life? A lot of people get to 40 and still haven’t realised that. As I’m getting older I’m getting a lot more..ooh, I dunno the word, actually…”deep”, possibly. I reckon it’s not necessarily where you’re going in life, it’s the journey, that makes life such and adventure. You could quite easily go “School – VIth Form – University – Nice career in banking”, get married, have 2.4 children, and never *really* experience anything at all. It’s far better (at least, in my opinion) to have had bad times just so that you can get over them and move on. I know people who’ve gone into, say, teaching at 21 years old, and also people who’ve left school at 16 and found their own path. I know which of the two I think would have a more interesting life.
edit- just realised. I never said how the conversation with Kim went. It was cool, we’re going to meet up in a week or so, and, (before you say it) this is an entirely innocent meeting. She had her chance 14 years ago when I sent her a valentines card at school 😉