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girl versus five-year plan

five year plan
I have reached a fork in the road of my life. Unfortunately it is not a literal fork that I can plunge mercilessly into a huge bowl of pasta. It’s a metaphorical fork that forces me to make a choice. I am the worst at making choices, but funnily enough, this one’s easy.

If I go left, there’s a freshly surfaced super-highway that goes straight to my CAREER.

If I go right, tumbleweeds blow lazily across the wide, dusty road to CHILDREN. I’m not sure if the two roads ever meet.

Now wait just a minute. I thought women were liberated from this choice. I thought women could Have It All. I thought it was perfectly reasonable to expect that, by forty, I’d be working at a “firm” and earning a salary generous enough to send my kids to a private school with a fancy lawn. Turns out that Having It All isn’t as straightforward as I was brought up to believe.

I’m 25, which means I have a decade until the end of what a Google search informs me is prime baby-making time. Too bad I plan to spend that decade getting a postgraduate qualification and finding a niche in the competitive media industry into which I can dig my claws. That fork in the road is suddenly looking a lot less like a fork and more like a ?.

I know it’s normal to freak out in your mid-twenties that by your age your mother already had a handful of kids and your parents had paid off half a mortgage. Usually I take a deep breath and remind myself that things are different now and it’s totally acceptable to be 25 and single and perpetually hungry. But 30 looks a lot different from this vantage point then it did at 17 when I decided an Arts Degree was the right degree for me because I had all the time in the world to fuck around with philosophy electives and make a real choice later.

This is where the five-year plan comes in. If I somehow manage to find a willing baby-daddy and dream employer somewhere before 2018, it ends up looking something like this:

2013:   Complete Arts Degree. Apply for jobs in vain hope that Arts Degree qualifies you for anything. Accept defeat. Apply for postgraduate courses.

2014:   Postgraduate study entitles you to drink during the day in public with a haughty facial expression.

2015:   Postgraduate Level Up! Try and find boyfriend because you’ll need to hurry if you plan to move in with him and make babies that hopefully won’t inherit your chin sometime in the next three years.

2016:   Enter workforce. Wait, you want to enter the print media industry? Hahahahahaha! GOOD LUCK! This step could take all year.

2017:   Establish self in workforce because you’re 30 this year and your ovaries are starting to get lazy and you know, maternity leave. Also probably put pressure on (speculative) boyfriend to make some kind of step towards commitment, like buying an apartment or a dog or a pot plant or something.

2018:   BABY TIME! Cue ‘Chariots of Fire’ as sex soundtrack to encourage sperm triumph.

Maybe the driving force behind all of this planning is just fear. Maybe I’m just afraid of leaving my undergraduate degree—and everything it’s entitled me to—behind. Maybe I’m afraid that I won’t find a baby-daddy, or a job, or an apartment, or that there might be something wrong with my bits and having a baby will be more complicated than I thought.

Or maybe there’s a whole bunch of twentysomething women faced with the same metaphorical fork (meta-fork?), who, like me, all brushed it off as outmoded. There’s not much I can do but steel myself and take a wild stab at the future. Anyway, don’t forks have three prongs?

5 thoughts on “girl versus five-year plan

  1. After my Arts degree and a year abroad I’m also doing a post graduate due to no job prospects. I’m 21 and haven’t thought about having it all yet but surely all our lives can’t be over at 30. At least I hope not.

  2. Thank you for condensing everything I’ve been thinking (read: freaking out about) into an awesome little article! :)

  3. Amazing. You took the words right out of my mouth – now if only you could take the fears out of my mind! If it helps, know that you’re not the only one out there freaking out. Simultaneously in the past year or so, cluckiness, career anxiety and confused wanderlust have taken over my life (a fact that lends support to your don’t-forks-have-three-prongs theory), and I don’t know what to do about it. Curiously, drinking in the daytime seems to help, so I feel you’re on the right path. Or maybe we’re both on the wrong one… Ergh. Deep breaths, everybody!!

  4. So I am pretty much in the same boat except that I am a year older than you, and therefore only have years to make these miracles happen! Glad to see I am not the only one freaking out here.

  5. I think it helps in this situation to accept that nowadays, and especially in media, there will be less and less jobs that are full time, in an office with lots of people, and with visible career prospects. Instead you could end up doing projects and collaborations in your niche industry that begin small, and who knows where that can lead? Sure, there’s way less security, but I like to tell myself (maybe it’s just empty reassuring…who knows) that perhaps not having a bonafide grownup J.O.B. would be a different way of juggling work and home life.

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