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We Asked People if Their Lives Turned Out the Way They Thought They Would

"Ostensibly, no it hasn't."

You after you've realised you fucked it. Photo by Gerd Altman via Pixabay

When I was a kid in GCSE physics classes, I used to just repeatedly sketch out the floor plan of my future bakery, envisioning bright striped awning and a huge brassy cash register. A couple of years later, my dreams had changed: I was imagining a husband and a highly paid position in law by my mid-twenties.

But just look at me now: childless and alone, all of my dreams crippled by a repulsion towards the idea of actually ever opening a law book, as well as my utter refusal to wake up before 07:00, especially to make some fucking bread.


To make myself feel better, I hit the streets to find out if anyone's lives turned out the way they though they would, or if everyone is just a flimsy, misshapen shadow of their expected self.

Andrew, 25

Ostensibly, no it hasn't. I don't think I had a plan in the first place, so I can't really complain. I took six years to do my degree, I work in a bookshop, but I only work part time. I play around on my guitar and write my own music, and sometimes I think, 'Oh, I'll do that!' But I'm also 25, and soon I won't be 25 any more. Twenty-five is not young enough to be pissing about with guitars and stuff.

The general thing is to go to uni and have a career, but I'm totally against that. But even still, being completely against that normal thing, I still feel like I've failed because I'm judging myself against that standard. When you've got your friends and colleagues and family constantly judging you based on that, it's sort of hard to not feel like you've failed. I probably have the tools to change my life if I wanted, but I'm just not keen to.

Isobella, 24

I think it's pretty close. I'm travelling to London for the first time alone, which I never thought I would actually have the balls to do. I also knew when I was a kid that I wanted to be in branding and do graphic design, which I was fascinated by. So I ended up doing that, and in New York, which I thought I would.

But now it's like, what's next? What's going to happen later? I don't know if I want to know, though, because that would be boring, I would just be waiting for that thing to happen. It's kind of more exciting to be able to change around what you thought your life would be, rather than just say, "Great, I did it, I can check that box."


Tom, 36

No way. I thought I'd be married with kids and a house and a nice job. I grew up in a nice middle class family, so you go to school, you go to uni, you get a job. But I'm still living like I'm 16 years old. I work at a tattoo shop. I'm happier with where I'm at now, but there was a long time when I was unhappy, just thinking I should have my shit together by now.

I don't have any money, I don't own a place, I rent a room. I'm a recovering alcoholic and have been sober for almost two years. A couple of years before that my life was chaotic and I didn't think I would ever live a normal life again. So just to have money, a job and a place to stay is a fucking bonus.

Anna, 40

I've had lots of adventures, but I keep changing when I'm bored. I didn't really know how my life would turn out. It just happened, and I don't really think so far ahead. When I was a kid, my dad had all the ideas and told us what to do, basically, and after that I moved away to Australia and enjoyed myself for a while. Then I did some admin work and ended up studying geology. I was quite lucky with that, but it was a bit random.

I often say now, if I'd known then what I know now, I would have done something different – maybe tried for medical school. I think there's a few people, me included, who suffer from the grass is greener syndrome. There's a lot of choices in this day and age, so we're bound to end up a little disappointed that we can't do everything.


Ali, 31

No. I think I always thought I was going to end up being some sort of successful musician. So I did the band thing when I got out of school, and one got close and one didn't quite happen. I ended up turning my hand to writing and became a journalist. But I qualified the year that all of the major newspapers in Scotland were shedding their workforce, so it wasn't the best year to graduate. Then I got offered a job in London when I was drunk, and when I wound up in London and sobered up, I realised I was handcuffed to this job I didn't want.

I had quite a successful job writing after that, but it's not writing about cool things like music and books and art, it's writing about start-ups and corporations. I mean, I've got a six-month-old baby at home to look after. That wasn't on the cards, either, but it's all turned out great. It's still weird to think that three or four years ago I was kind of sexy and poor and walking down this exact street, with purpose but going nowhere, just wanting to be seen.

Sunny, 24

So far, so good! I think, growing up, I was a money-orientated little boy, to be honest with you. Six or seven years on, I left school after my GCSEs, started working and now I'm about to own my own construction company. So actually, 100 percent I'm still money-orientated. Money doesn't buy happiness, but it certainly helps happiness in life, and there's certain problems in life that can only be solved with money. I'm a charitable guy – there's this charity in India called Unique House that I give a lot of money to.


At 16, I knew that I wanted to be engaged by the time I was 24. I've got a missus, and we might get married two to three years from now. Kids? 27 or 28, maybe. Definitely something I look forward too – building a family is crucial, I think. Growing up, I had it in my mind that by this age I'd like to achieve this; by that age, that. Everyone has to have that kind of guideline in life. I think I'm quite strict with mine, but they've gone quite well for me so far, so I don't have anything to complain about.

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