In five years time

Everyone knows that essay question or even interview question: Where will you be in five years time? / Where do you see yourself in five years time?

Yesterday I had the pleasure of realisation as I walked into the  pub close to Paddington station. The little group in the back that waved at me, were some of my uni-friends. They happened to be in London on this weekend and whilst we were catching up we realised that it had been five years since we’d graduated.

Five years. Immediately this sparked sighs of  “we’re getting old”, which is obviously ridiculous: at the grand age of  twentysomething no one should sigh this. As the only guy in our little group exclaimed (in fact he was the husband of one of the girls – but more about that later.):” I wish I was in my twenties again! Have my youth back! ” I smiled and realised  that with his 34 years he indeed was the Nestor of the group.

So here we were, four girls who went to uni together and graduated five years ago. What had become of us?

Well …one had gotten married. She was already engaged when she started the course, something that was a little hard to comprehend for other 18 year olds. As one of us said: ” When we threw you an engagement party, we were still living in halls and it felt a bit like make-believe!”  They had decided to get married after she graduated but it took another two years til the big day. I was surprised to hear they had gotten engaged within six months of dating and then still waited that long before tying the knot. Her husband said: ” I just knew. I just knew I was going to marry her but was willing to wait until she had graduated.”  ( So nudge to all those who are being messed about by a man: apparently if he wants to spend the rest of his life with you, he knows. And when he knows, he is not shy about putting a ring on it.)  She is a teacher now, finishing a part-time MA and pregnant with her first child. Boom.

But life can be  turn out very different and not less good.

The second girl had come up for a clowning course as part of research into play and playfulness for her MA in theatre. She is studying at our old university and is even a guest lecturer. Note: she was asked by staff if she wanted to do the course. After graduation she was a freelance practitioner for a while, affiliated with a big theatre south-west and organising courses for young people. She then decided to take the plunge and go to France to do a years course in theatre. She did a crash course French and went. That my friends is brave. But it was tough and the competitiveness of the course put her off performing a little. Then when she came back she decided that in order  to keep pursuing theatre, she had to rediscover the pleasure of it. To me, to have had a knock back and still decide to stick with what you love, is even braver.

The third girl had come over from Australia when we were at uni and for as long as I have known her, she’s worked hard. Throughout uni, during summers, and after. I seem to vaguely remember she went to Cyprus for a year as a holiday entertainer. She is the work hard, party hard girl and I admire her strength. I cannot imagine what it must be like, if your family is half-way across the world. When your ticket home equals a month’s rent. But I know few who are as go-getting as she is. She wanted a job in radio so started by taking shifts with traffic radio. Meanwhile she had a job in a hotel to support herself (apparently the worst job ever – but she sure stuck with it.) and later she worked shifts in a hospice. Currently she is working split-shifts and though we were stunned by the amount of hours she does, she said she would find a 9-5 job hard now. This is a lady who can take care of herself. On top of that she takes care of others, when I said I was looking for a job, she immediately offered to hook me up.  She lives in London too and  despite not having seen each other for years, when we did it felt normal again. She has decided she wants to get back to writing and has a whole plan that she will bring into action. Inventive, adaptable, hardworking and curious for life: I cannot wait to see where she will be in five years time.

It made me smile to realise where five years had taken us. Some already pretty certain of the direction they were heading, some still in the gorgeous (and admitting sometimes desperate) chaos of it all. I realised that in five years a lot of things had changed for me in a good way and if that line keeps going, bring on the next five!

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