There’s nothing quite like getting older and another year ending to make you feel more philosophical or possibly more ranty about life, particularly about ‘The Expected Order of Things’ (EOT). It’s my grumpy old lady right, so suck it up buttercups. There’s always chocolate to calm the hell down. Donations gratefully received.
‘The Expected Order of Things’ (EOT)
I’ve come to the conclusion that following the ‘Expected Order of Things’ (EOT) isn’t for me. That’s a big deal for someone who thought they were a traditional, toe-the-line kind of girl *family, best friend and husband’s laughter rings out over England*.
I have never felt like I’m unique or a game-changer, but perhaps, in some ways, I am. Maybe you are too.
Let’s begin by considering this whole EOT business. Who created it anyway? My money is on some dodgy god of bad jokes ilk. He is peeing himself laughing at us from his cave.
For some reason, many of us adopt the overarching expectations of how it should be done in life: birth, school, go to university/get job, boyfriend/girlfriend, build a career/role, fiance/fiancee, husband/wife, baby(ies), retirement, die (other EOTs and variations of this are available).
You can’t change the birth and death parts, unless you’ve discovered and are keeping secret the keys to spontaneous creation and immortality, you selfish git.
I am not stating that everyone wants this standard EOT or what should be the preferable route. Do it if it makes you happy, don’t if it doesn’t.
I’m no lifestyle blogger. I’ve got enough on my hands just existing, let alone sorting your lives out.
I am not here to mock anyone’s life choices. I’m imparting that if you have an EOT plan, don’t be surprised when it veers off course. Life has an annoying habit of doing that.
Here Comes the Life Story…
I didn’t go to university until my mid 20s. After I finished school, I was certainly intelligent enough and had the grades to do so. I just didn’t want to.
My school frowned upon the ‘waste’ of my ability. I remember being in that group of ‘reprobates’ who didn’t want to, or did not have the qualifications, to go to university.
Sixth Form assemblies often entailed breaking into two groups: those going to uni and those who weren’t. Every time, those who weren’t going were sent home. We never had an assembly on how to find jobs or not land up on the dole. We didn’t matter.
So we pootled off, went to the pub, got high, and planned how we would spend our benefits (or so most of the staff at my school thought). What the aspiring ‘going to uni’ kids hadn’t twigged was that if you were in our camp, you saved yourself from the most boring assemblies in the world. Not so smart after all, were they?
After I left school, I worked in retail, customer services, a call centre, office jobs… None of which matched my academic qualifications.
I’d like to say I don’t regret a single second but that would be a lie. Work with the general public, incessantly whinging at you, and let me know how you ward off your stabby side.
However, I acquired some transferable skills (the tossbaggish stuff you write on your CV) and then I went to university because it was the right time for me.
After this, I became an English teacher. I also gained a Masters in Literature. So up yours to the senior staff of my school who told me I was ruining my life. I wasn’t ready back then. Once I was, I flew. Not literally, although I may add that to my alternative EOT *adds ‘become Supergirl‘*.
I left teaching due to severe depression caused by delayed grief. This is most definitely not in anyone’s EOT. The career I thought I’d have for the rest of my life was gone. I felt my life was over. I thankfully recovered. Well, at least then I did. See The Enemy Strikes Back and Thief Named Depression.
In my mid 30s I moved away from the county in which I had lived in all my life, to go to college. It was most certainly not the EOT for me to relocate and live in halls as an older bird among young ‘uns.
Let’s just say it was not the wisest move I’ve ever made and leave it at that…
I stuck around in the new county. I’m stubborn. I wasn’t going back to the ‘Shire’ with my tail between my legs (funny expression that, no tail on me as far as I can see, boys more so, (fnar, fnar).
I made a brief return to teaching because I thought it was part of my EOT. I soon realised I was trying to make up for having to leave the job previously. It wasn’t meant to be and I have no regrets in crossing that off the EOT list.
Reader, I Bloody Well Married Him!
Then I met my husband. Who obviously wasn’t my husband when I met him. We didn’t get married on our first date no matter how excited the whole world was that I finally had a date. I may have been in my late 30s but I wasn’t quite that desperate.
In February this year we got married. I gave a speech. Again, not conventional. Go Lisa. I even told the single beings to stop seeking out the fairy tale that having a partner and getting married would complete them. Disney has a lot to answer for.
To make such a speech may be considered controversial at your own wedding but I was hardly your archetypal virgin bride *cough*.
I was decked in customised Converse, 40 years old, and telling our guests that my husband flipping rocks but he does not validate me as a person; he is the piece of the jigsaw I had been missing.
The jigsaw could have been left unfinished but as an organiser freak that would have done my head in. Despite the reference, I’d like to make it clear that I’m not quite ready for jigsaws yet (more power to those who are fans of them).
It may be the EOT for my latter years but I’m not embracing jigsaws, Tena Lady and Bingo at this stage (other older lady pursuits and burdens are available).
This Writing Business
The next step in seeing off the EOT was to commit to becoming a full-time writer. There I was, all ready to become a lady of leisure and sponge off my husband’s salary, and then this desire to write came along. This meant actual work, although it did give me a valid reason for sitting on my arse most of the day.
I’ve also written the first draft of a novel about depression, in my own little way. It’s funny – well, I hope it is. We may think depression isn’t supposed to be humorous. Tell that to mentally ill comedians.
My novel is also occasionally inappropriate. I have taken a serious issue and made it mine because after having this dragging me down on and off for a few decades, I think I have every right to shatter depression’s perverse version of the EOT.
It has certainly disrupted my writing career when I went back into the depression more. I just couldn’t write. I could barely function. I’m beginning to claw my way back now.
If you have read this far, thanks husband.
Apologies for the long autobiography but it’s here to convey that I’ve learnt, for me, there is no EOT. You don’t have to play by the ‘rules’ that none of us know who created.
I have a feeling, however, that we did. Many of us have bought into it and made it a ‘thing’.
I question some days the wisdom of becoming a writer at this age. Then I realise I am (hopefully) going to have a few more years on this planet, so why not?
Who cares what age I am? Only me when the wrinkles start to appear, the grey hairs get plucked and dyed, or the bits and pieces go a little more south. It doesn’t stop me from writing does it? Although boob droop over your keyboard can be an obstacle.
Choose to be a Bad Ass Chicken, Not Nuggets
Throw the EOT out the window if it doesn’t work for you.
Before you do, question who imposed it upon you in the first instance. If it was you, you can work on that.
If it’s someone else, work on them, assert yourself, have a word or hire a hitman. You have choices.
If you go for the latter option, let’s be clear, this post never happened.
Be a rebel. Kick EOT up the bum.
Make plans but don’t set stringent timelines.
As a wise person once said (me), death is a certainty, life isn’t. Always be a bad ass chicken, not nuggets.