Looking back at yourself looking forward to yourself Genuinely expect the genuinely unexpected

274-620x443Eight years ago a skinny short-haired guy who had the same face and DNA as me bundled most if not all of his worldly possessions and hopes into a van and moved it up to Manchester. It was a largely impulsive decision based on lingering background expectations of what a new life there might comprise. If you asked that guy a year before if he expected to be doing that 52 weeks later, he’d laugh at you then fall over drunk.

Ugh, all this second-person talk is killing me.

So yes, eight years ago I moved to Manchester. I came here to get away from that backwater piss-ant of a town I used to call home and start again with more people, better facilities and a blind faith in the abundance of employment (employment I was unable to source for a good 10 months after that). It was the most significant and yet most random change I’ve ever made. Yes, every initial detail was planned, but it was planned barely a few months before.

If when I arrived, so full of hope and promise, you’d asked me where I expected to see myself in a year, I’d tell you I’d be holding down a job in a decent field of journalism while meeting regular deadlines to keep up with my four-book publishing deal. I wouldn’t tell you that I expect to be in a generic admin or customer services job, or unemployed, splitting my free time between creative work, banal consumption of mass culture, and cultivating a living situation and social circle that I can increasingly call home. The year after that I’d tell you the same, and if you ask me today I’d probably spin you the same dream, then underpunch it with a hefty dose of realism.

When the truly monumental things happen to us, cliche-ridden people that we are, we state that we never would have expected this a year ago. It feels good. It feels terrifying and refreshing all at the same time. Yet when we’re asked where we see ourselves in a further year’s time, we list mundane career aspirations, perhaps minor improvements on where we live or how many people we’re capable of making happy. We forget whatever grand terrifying schemes we had planned and assume our dreams and goals were pedestrian and generic.

Break the mould! Tell me that in a year you want to be so far removed from where you are now that you would look back on today and tell me you never expected to be where you are then. Then repeat the process yearly, ad infinitum.

Nick
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