First off, anyone who even thought about the Pussycat Dolls song when they read the title should get the f out (but you get an honorary highfive on the way out for trying).
When I was younger, I wanted to be a new thing every week. It was anything from an air hostess to a mountain goat (no, really.)
This topic came up in my mind as I was filling out a section of my UCAS form yesterday. For any of you not hailing from the land of A Levels, UCAS is basically the system through which we apply to university, kind of like a huge directory, if you like.
It sprung to my mind that I was making huge life decisions based on what I think I want now. What if that changes in the next year? What if I decide to make a U-turn and dedicate my life to the conservation of a rare species of potplant? I wouldn’t have the qualifications to do so, and I have therefore shut a series of doors that would take some serious legwork to reopen.
So it occurred to me that I’ve never really wanted to be just one thing. I wanted to be everything, and in that way I’m quite selfish (I’m sure there’s a Simone de Beauvoir quote in there somewhere…)
And I still don’t know.
I’m no closer to knowing who I want to be and what I want to do than when I wanted to be a spy when I was nine, or a koala when I was five.
Obviously now my dreams of transmogrifying into an small, furry animal have been dashed (goddammit!), but even then, decisions with such large ramifications are a daunting prospect.
I don’t like the idea of being confined to one, or even a small selection of things. I want to live an extraordinary life.
Don’t get me wrong, it sounds like I’m talking about fame and fortune and worldwide adoration. I don’t want that kind of burden. All I would ever desire is a life full of small, private freedoms and joys that, if I’m ever-so-lucky, I could share with others.
In an embarrassingly clichéd phrase, I want to live fast and free and wildly and deeply and I’m not sure if the world will let me. There are so many things I want to do (as can be seen on my bucket list) and getting them done seems… unlikely.
In all truth, I don’t like the prospect of growing old. It isn’t about the appearance, about youth or beauty or vanity.
In my mind, I see it almost like an ever-narrowing tunnel of prospects: as you grow older, the prospects become more sparse, you begin to lose options and the ability to choose or go back on your choices. I don’t want to be in the position of no prospects, being a burden to others around me.
Equally, I don’t want to have to fit into the parameters set for me by common expectation: school, A Levels, university, job, marriage, children, retirement, grandchildren, death. Charming, isn’t it?
Because of all this, and I haven’t expressed this anywhere but in my mind before, I can’t see myself living past my thirties. Again, don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying I’m about to top myself. I’m saying that I don’t think that kind of life is for me.
I don’t want to live my life preparing. Education as a preparation for a job, a job for a promotion, a promotion for more money, more money to pay for children and a pension, preparing children for life, preparing to retire, retire to prepare for death.
No, fuck that.
That isn’t me.
I’d rather die having lived than fade away having survived.
I sound like a belligerent teenager right now, but I’ve never been more sure about anything.
I wasn’t cut out for ordinary.
So, what do I want to be when I grow up?
Well, it’s a bit of a cop-out, but I want to be free.