Whenever I tell somebody about my plans, they always seem to look at me as if I just told them about feeding Jack’s magic beans to my pet unicorn. You know the face?
As if what I said is so out there, it couldn’t possibly happen. You know who reacts like this? People who don’t have those ambitions or that faith in themselves.
Today, an older person said to me about being able to retire from this job in 25 years. 25 years! They’re looking at their life in the same place, doing the same thing for 25 years. (Not sure if I said how many years enough!) That’s fine. Absolutely fine and reasonable. For them.
I said I hope to be retired before the actual age and was given ‘the face’ and even laughter. As if dreaming of being retired early is so completely naive and outrageous. He thought I’d said I’d like to be retired before him, and laughed at the idea of me retiring at around 50. I’m sorry, but is that not a reasonable goal? I realise it doesn’t happen for many, but I can dream can’t I?
He told me there was no way I’d retire by then. As if it’s impossible. It’s not impossible. It may not be very easy, but it’s not impossible!
Also, when I talk about retiring, I don’t mean sitting on my arse or taking up knitting or holidaying constantly. I realise you need endless amounts of money to live life with no income. I don’t want to give up completely. I mean holding together something successful and mine whilst doing as I please to an extent. Have an income while going about life. I don’t want to be working in the same job for that many years, that’s for sure. And I really like my job!
I’ve been met by this sort of reaction more than once. In fact, I’ve come across it so much that I no longer share my plans or desires easily. I don’t want to be mocked and end up doing things in order to prove people wrong. I also don’t want to be mocked for openly failing. I don’t mind failing at some things, but I don’t want to give people the satisfaction of the dreaded ‘I told you so’.
A few examples of this happening are:
Telling a friend I’m going to University.
I was met with laughter, and ‘you won’t last’ plus ‘I give it two weeks!’ This was a really good friend of mine. One of the first people I told. I was beyond offended and set out to prove him wrong. When it got to the two weeks, I thought ha, I win! Life shouldn’t really be like that, but I was a stubborn 20 year old with a point to prove. But the point to prove wasn’t for anyone else. It was for me really. I didn’t understand that at the time. I’d been coasting for years, not doing as well as I could have at school and college, and basically being lazy. I used the excuse of not knowing what I wanted to do, but I wasn’t really trying to figure it out either.
Telling a friend I was going to learn to drive.
Laughed at, told I wouldn’t be able to. What?! Drive? Like so many other people? It’s not the highest of ambitions! I realised it was because she was worried about driving after failing a few times. A better way to go about this would be to tell me she found it difficult, so that maybe we could talk about it and encourage each other. Instead, a defence mechanism jumped in.
Telling a friend I was going to buy a house.
I said within the next few years and was still met with comments such as ‘it’s hard’, ‘I doubt you can’, ‘alright then if you think you can’ (I especially hate those ones – I do think I can actually!). Again, is this not a very normal desire for a person in their late-20s?
And again, the friend was in a position in life that was less likely to allow her to do the same in the near future. A couple of years later and now she talks about doing the same thing! Like I’m sorry, do you remember when you thought that was a ludicrous idea?
You’ll notice that each one of these examples is a friend. I know what you’re probably thinking; get better friends! But it’s not that they were bad friends. They couldn’t see themselves doing this, so how would I manage it? People tend to live their lives competing. It’s hard not to. You could say being competitive is ingrained in us from an early age: parents bragging about when their children walked; school races; exams determining whether we’ll be in the top class. I’m not against some healthy competition. I loved all of those ‘competitions’ and was proud of myself when I won things or did the best. It showed my hard work had paid off. But I think as you get older, you need to take time out to take a look at yourself instead of the people around you.
So what if you’re better at something than one of your peers. Does it make you the best person? Is that really you at your best?
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not only friends who do this. Many people get this treatment from siblings, parents, teachers. Some people may be worried about your ideas and how they will affect your life at the moment, some people will be bitter. I say leave them be!
Judging my life by somebody else’s is something I’ve vowed not to do. Some people my age are doing so much better than me in certain ways. Some people’s careers have taken off, some people have a lovely family and awesome children. Some people are travelling the world. It’s not to say I don’t get jealous of people. Of course I do! But we can’t do and be everything.
As far as I’m concerned, trying and failing is better than not trying at all. And if people laugh at my ideas and plans, so be it. At least I have some!
Have you had this happen to you? How did it affect you at the time?