When I was a kid, my biggest fear was that our house would be burgled. That at some point in the night, strangers would break into our house and take the TV and the stereo, before riding off into the sunset in a getaway car, driven by some man with a balaclava and black eyes. It wasn’t so much the stuff being taken that worried me; I came to realise later that it was the shift in power that scared me. This was probably the first sign of being a control freak, and I will forever blame my parents for not shoving me into therapy straight away to nip that in the bud.
Aside from neuroses and a pretty severe case of dramaticus queenicus, growing up has never really frightened me. I have always been a cheerleader for love – right from when I was a little girl I would ask every couple I knew how they met, how he proposed, did they or did they not imagine staying together forever (hey, I was a precocious eight year old). I always imagined I would grow up, meet my future husband at university, get married at 22 and be settled with kids by the time I hit my 24th year.
I am not sure where I factored in a high flying career, but the feminist in me reckons it was in there somewhere. I would then raise my children in a big house with dogs and cats and chickens (yes, chickens) and learn things like ceramics and knitting, while writing my bestselling novel in the evenings while the children were asleep. You can’t say my hopes and dreams weren’t thorough, if a little clichéd.
Now that I am in my final year of university, with my 21st birthday being a mere week away, I am starting to worry I may only have 6 months left in which to find the perfect husband in time to marry them, AND have 2.4 children before my time is up. If only it were that clear cut. No one warns you about recessions when you are a kid. No one tells you that you might never meet the perfect man or woman. No one tells you that nearly half of all marriages end in divorce these days. No one tells you that you can marry a girl instead of a boy (though to be fair to my parents, they have been suggesting I get a girlfriend since I was about 13). No one tells you you might have trouble conceiving and thus may never get your 2.4 children with the Volvo to match. Sorry Mum and Dad, but where is my happily ever after? I am still waiting for the fairy tale to start, let alone end with marriage and babies. If Sleeping Beauty could nab a husband in her sleep, why can’t I find mine in the harsh light of day??
My plan has clearly got a major flaw. Possibly something to do with life getting in the way. Like, seriously. Who knew I would have no time at all to go man hunting when I have a dissertation, a newspaper section and a social life to worry about? I will almost definitely continue to plan out every aspect of my life, but I am starting to realise that I am really not in control of most of it, and that scares the hell out of me. But I have started to realise that makes it a little bit more exciting – you never know who you are going to meet, what you are going to find, what opportunities might come your way. Similarly, you don’t know if you are going to crash your car, have a stroke, get your heart broken. If I could just console the control freak with the dreamer, maybe I would be alright.
Still, getting older and freaking out about it does have its perks. I get to stash away my Disney dreams for a few more months of shameless student life before I really have to worry. And if I haven’t gotten something sorted by graduation, there’s always a Masters…
Wish me luck. I have a feeling I'm going to need it.