The road from elementary (Part 2)

What was most interesting about my elementary building in Edmonton was that in addition to grades K-6, it also housed an all-girls junior high school on its upper levels. They had to wear uniforms so the junior high girls were always easy to spot. When I was in grade 3 or 4, sometimes during recess, a junior high girl named Amanda would come and play with us. I don’t quite remember why she first started talking to us, but she’d come by every now and then. I really looked up to Amanda. I thought she was pretty, smart, and had a warm personality.

When you are a girl in grade school, you don’t look up to your mom or adults. Instead, you idolize a slightly younger generation, but a few years older than yourself. You marvel at their vast knowledge of the world and degree of autonomy. When they talk to you, it’s genuine conversation, versus talking to adults who would mostly criticize and chastise. I was personally captivated by Amanda’s independence and her success. (She was in junior freaking high! She wore the prettiest hair accessories! She had a boyfriend!) I imagined myself at that age, and I saw myself living Amanda’s life. I thought, “of course, by then I will be just as cool as her”.

As you can probably guess, I wasn’t even close to having all the things she had when I hit that age. I had zero fashion sense (track pants all the way), didn’t have cool places to go out to, and was nowhere close to touching a boy.

I always had a picture of where I would be when I got to a certain phase in my life. I look at the people around me whose lives I am envious of, and I picture myself being in their position. But then when I reach that same stage, it’s nothing like I imagined. Sometimes I’m better off, and sometimes worse.

By now, most of the people I know are probably finished school. We might be starting our first jobs in the real world or trying to find one. It’s a defining yet puzzling moment in our lives. I’m sure many of us are familiar with the “quarter life crisis”, either through having experienced it or maybe being approached by a friend about it. It’s a time of reflection.

I never would have imagined I would be the person I am now. So I propose to you the following question:

Are you where you thought you’d be at this point in your life?

What did you imagine you’d be doing in your early twenties when you were 5, 10, 15 years old (hell, even just last year)? The kind of friends you’d have? Places and activities you’d enjoy? Your role in society? Your values and attitudes on life? The things you’d talk and joke about with your friends? Your accomplishments? Relationship expectations?

13 thoughts on “The road from elementary (Part 2)”

  1. Damn – nice post. I’ve recently been reliving moments of my childhood, certain things just sparking old memories that I completely forgot about. You may have inspired me to blog about something similar…

  2. When I was grade 1 or 2, the age 11 for some reason was THE age to look up to. I don’t know why it was that way or how, but for some reason it looked that way to me where you could be independent, autonomous and when your life would begin. When I was little, I thought that by my 20s I’d have all that for sure. I’d be some office worker pullin’ the 9-5 and living some predictable life. I don’t think I cared about values and attitudes, I just wanted the path that everyone wanted me to have, and where everyone else was. Not following that route, I think my attitudes and perspectives towards life are a lot more interesting and multi-dimensional than if I had. To each path, its own challenges, but I can’t say one is better than the other, it just is.

  3. @Justin: This is why I continue blogging… I think it’s the highest form of praise/feedback if my writing can actually have some sort of effect on others. So thanks and I’m looking forward to that post!

    @Jo: I think eleven because you were hoping to get into HOGWARTS! :P All jokes aside, yea, I sort of imagined the same as you – just a regular mediocre life. And I guess I didn’t really wish for anything more until recent years when I realized I wouldn’t be happy with just that.

  4. Lets see
    15 years ago I thought I would be a doctor
    10 years ago I would have been 13 so…. I still would have thought I would be a doctor
    Basically I thought I would do medicine until like grade 9 or 10. I did high school science and realized I hated biology and sucked at chemistry. Actually I sucked and hated both biology and chemistry. I always liked math and computers though. By grade 11 I was basically on a CS track
    Last year though, after taking so many pure math courses, the idea of doing a masters in pure math caught my eye.
    So my current goal in life is to get a masters in math. I am like 90% sure I won’t get in but that is still the plan.

    I never thought about my role in society.

    I was way more religious when I was younger, but I think that is partly because my mom is a bit religious. After high school I felt it was all nonsense.

    When I entered high school I think I assumed I would eventually get a girlfriend within 4 years. That failed. I entered university and thought I must get a girlfriend within 5 years. That also failed. Not sure what my current course of action is.

    As far as accomplishments go, I thought I would have built an iPhone app by now. Clearly I was wrong.

    I have no idea how the conversations have changed between me and my friends.

    This was indeed a nice set of posts.

  5. I thought I would be a paleontologist, astronaut, actor, cop (elementary school). Then veterinarian in junior and some of high school. Lost for most of high school, but decided on science. Also no real idea for most of uni, later on thought of microbiology, paramedic then got into pharmacy. Definitely did not think I would still be in school right now but I’m content with where I am.

  6. I was going to be a pharmacist until grade 11. Last year I thought I would be a teacher in Korea. Now? Now I’m just a man of leisure.

  7. Haha you guys are hilarious :P

    @Krishna: Looks like you weren’t really hitting all your expectations, but now I think you’re actually better off, and made the right decisions. Also I’m totally in the same boat with you about the girlfriend/boyfriend thing.

    @Nelson: You were a pretty damn inspired kid. Astronaut would’ve been the coolest! Did you become interested in pharmacy later through studies, or did you just lose hope/interest in the other stuff?

    @Red: I don’t understand the kids who wanted to BECOME things like pharmacists, accountants…etc. How do you guys know about these specialized fields? All I knew was, in the world, there are people that deal with government, money/numbers, computers, and medicine. And then somehow everything functions.

  8. This wasn’t until maybe grade 9 or 10 when teachers kept telling me there would be a huge demand for pharmacists when all the baby boomers retire. Before then I was just a daydreamer. Actually, after grade 11, I reverted back to daydreaming.

  9. Being a vet was the main aspiration but i just never really had the commitment and maybe i was just too lazy. Pharmacy was just something that was also in health care although with humans that seemed to also fit.

  10. “Are you where you thought you’d be at this point in your life?”

    Nope. Not at all. I had my life planned out for me since I was a baby by my parents, and it was just two years ago that I broke free of that, went after what I truly wanted, and just started thinking for myself. Still in the process of getting it, but I know I’ll get there one day, and I’m uber anxious and ecstatic for it. I, too, never would have imagined I would be the person I am now. I doubt many people are currently who/where they imagined themselves to be. I really don’t regret any of my experiences since they’ve shaped the current me… but it does shock me once in awhile when I’m randomly sitting on a bus or elsewhere that I realize where I am and who I’ve become. Time just goes by too quickly, so it is good to step back and reflect now n then. =)

    A potential response to life’s curve balls:

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