What was the first thing you ever wanted to be? What I mean is, what was the first future-occupation you can ever remember choosing when you were a kid? Are you one of those extremely driven people who always knew what you wanted to be right from the start and that’s what you actually ended up doing? Or are you more like me and have imagined a myriad of professions and finally ended up falling into an occupation that you didn’t exactly choose but kind of chose you? I once wanted to throw a party where everybody came in costume – the theme being, the first job you ever wanted. But I didn’t go through with it as I imagined the room would be filled with people wearing white coats of one description or another. And me? Well I’ve always been a bit of a Jack of all trades, master of none. Seriously though, master of none.
This was most definitely the first thing I considered doing with my life. I was always fairly adept at drawing pictures; all Archer’s are. It’s innate. And as a young child, I first thought I might turn my hand to this in later life because on a daily basis, kids at school would ask me to draw their pictures for them. I never understood this. Why on earth would you want my picture in your exercise book? What sense of personal achievement could you possibly gain from seeing a drawing penned by me and not by you? Anyway, very rarely did I submit to these requests. And I didn’t turn out to be an artist either. I got an E for art in my GCSE’s – you heard me right, an E. And after that disastrous result, I certainly didn’t pursue art any further. I guess, like most things in my life, I was good but just not good enough.
Not to blow my own trumpet (although I’m going to), I was a pretty good little actress too. I would try-out for every school play and thrust my hand in the air whenever the English teacher needed somebody to read for a character in any given play we were reading. When I was about nineteen or twenty, I actually went for an audition to get a place at Drama School. Well, that was a mistake. What an horrifically humiliating experience – and to cut to the chase, I didn’t make the grade. I think mainly because I couldn’t sing like Maria Callas like most of the other hopefuls could. But in hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t get in. No, really. I’d be just another penniless actress looking for the next bit-part whilst waiting tables right at this moment. I’d probably have exhausted all the extras parts on ‘Casualty’ and ‘The Bill’. Again, I was close (ish) – but no cigar. Well, to be honest, I wasn’t even close. But we do have a nearby amateur dramatics group and I often toy with the idea of joining. They put on two plays a year – but the thought of twice-weekly rehearsals on top of work and kids is a bit too much to stomach so I never do get around to auditioning. I don’t know, maybe when I’m retired? I can star in Cocoon III.
You’re probably starting to see a pattern here. My interests and talents have only ever included the arts (so you aren’t going to be seeing Nuclear Scientist or Neurosurgeon below. You’re surprised, I know). Now I may not be able to sing like Maria Callas, but I can hold a tune. From an early age, I used to write my own songs with the aid of my trusty Bontempi keyboard. In my late teens and early twenties, I was in bands (recording studios mainly, never live gigging for some reason). But I never truly enjoyed being a singer. Singing the same song over and over again until you got it right just didn’t do it for me. And that lovely soulful voice I heard inside my head, oddly, could never be heard when played back on a recording; I just can’t stand the sound of my own voice. John Lennon used to feel the exact same way (did she just compare herself to John Lennon..? Yes, yes I think she did…). And I just don’t think I’m enough of an extrovert to be up on stage professionally. But if you said I could be a songwriter and work behind the scenes, I’d be much happier with that. But you didn’t say that. So that isn’t happening either. Wonderful.
I don’t know why I thought I’d make good policewoman but I applied to the London Metropolitan Police once. I think I liked the idea of solving crimes (I’d probably been watching a bit too much ‘Inspector Morse’ at the time). Anyway, suffice to say, I didn’t get in (that happens a lot to me, doesn’t it?). I didn’t even get an interview and nobody ever said why. And I never asked. I blamed it on my short stature – at the time the height restrictions were still in place but whether that was the decision for not choosing me, I’ll never know. I’m glad really; my dreams of being an Inspector would have been dashed when I found myself in uniform on ‘the beat’. And to be honest, I’m just not that brave. I’ve always had a healthy desire to save my own skin. I don’t think dealing with the criminal underclass would have really suited somebody as cowardly as me who’d rather sit on her sofa and write or read about it. So no regrets there.
Well, this is what I ended up doing for for-realsies. And nursing was never precisely a dream of mine. I did have a nurse’s play-uniform as a kid which I liked as much as the next child, but I never fantasized about working in a hospital. I was never a fan of ‘Casualty’ or ‘Holby City’ or ‘ER’ (in fact, I cannot tolerate any medical-based drama at all these days, it’s like a busman’s holiday and I do hate talking shop). Did I like the high-pressure situations and having people’s lives in my hands? No, not really. This was the job I kind of ‘fell into’ (post being turned down by the filth). But although it drives me nuts half the time, I care deeply for the welfare of the NHS and nursing itself has been good to me; with a trade like that, you’ll never starve.
So lastly but not least…ly; the author. Obvs. This is the one profession I have wanted to do almost from day zero, have dabbled in since childhood and I still have a deep love for. I remember writing silly books at school with characters that were a mixture of school teachers, classmates and famous people (and handing them around class for other kids to read. God, what a loser I was *cringe*…). So, am I a writer? Well, I wouldn’t put it down as my profession on my passport application form, that’s for sure, because this is not how I earn my living. And yet I am a writer – of sorts. I have published a book (although any idiot can do that) and I do write a blog that real people, friends and complete strangers alike, read on a (more or less) weekly basis. The things I write are no longer hidden away on a laptop unseen by human eyes and I couldn’t say that a year ago. Okay, it only earns me pocket-money really (not even pocket-money as my eldest daughter wouldn’t get out of bed for that little), but I still do it. And I think I always will to some lesser or greater degree.
So what about you? Did you wind up doing something you always dreamed of? Or do you do something you never imagined as a child but simply love it? Or do you linger on in a mundane profession you fell into but still dream of that one thing that alluded you? Are you still working on making that dream a reality? You know me; I’m a glass-is-half-empty kind of person; I’m not the kind of girl who will bombard you with inspirational, cutesy memes that will make you want to turn your life around when I can be wittily pessimistic instead. That’s just not how I roll. But I do suggest you never give up on that dream; no matter how old you are. You may never make your fortune, you may never be a household name, but if it’s something you love and gives you enjoyment, nobody can really take that away from you. Other than, well…you.