Thank you, universe, for not letting me get what I wanted

My first time responding to the Daily Prompt, but it’s a good one:

The internet is full of rants. Help tip the balance: today, simply be thankful for something (or someone).

Today I am thankful for those moments of big fat disappointment, moments where you think your life will certainly be rubbish from now on because things did not turn out how you planned. I thank the universe for these little twists of fate, and allow me to explain why.

Until I was seventeen years old, I was an incredibly lucky person: anything I truly wanted, I got. Sure, when I was a kid I wanted a new Barbie doll every time we went to Woolworth’s, and I didn’t get that, and I really wanted a little brother and a dog, and didn’t get those either, but I had never been truly disappointed.

Now that I think carefully, perhaps before that age there was never really an occasion to want anything that much. Then I got to final year of high school, and it was time to apply to university.

I decided when I was fourteen years old that I wanted to go to Stirling University and study journalism. Now I can’t remember exactly why or how, but I was already in love with the campus. I also thought journalism was a way to write for a living, without having to admit to anyone that all I really wanted to do was write books.

And… I got it. Of course I did, I was much better at high school than at university. Yet for some bizarre reason, I changed my mind when it came to making the decision – I chose to study languages in order to perhaps become a translator or even a teacher one day. (Good pay, good holidays, what’s not to like…?)

So I went to the open day at the University of St Andrews. The sun was splitting the heavens. We went on a tour of the tiny town, and they told us about university legends, the (very few) places to go out, how many societies there were… and the two specific ones mentioned were Harry Potter and creative writing. I fell in love.

I had been given an unconditional offer for their modern languages course, with Spanish in particular being the best in the UK. But despite looking at every option, despite being desperate to make it work, despite truly wanting it, I just couldn’t afford to go. It was the first time I didn’t get what I wanted, and it sucked. Big time.

So I went to Edinburgh. Edinburgh, where I attended the open day as an afterthought, because it was near enough and I could get the afternoon off school. Edinburgh, where I was less than enthralled with the presentation, their stats, their classrooms. Edinburgh, where the only redeeming feature of the visit was the grassy bit in the middle of George Square. Edinburgh, where I swore point blank to my mum that I wasn’t going to go.

I did. I could stay at home and travel through, thereby saving some money. It does mean I missed out on certain aspects of university life, but I don’t regret it now. The first time I left home, I was moving into a house just outside of Paris, sharing with three strangers – leaping right out of my comfort zone – and it was great for me and my confidence. Paris is my second home. Salamanca became my third, where I got to study at one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious universities. And in final year, despite the stress and worries, I fell in love with Edinburgh as well.

At some point along the line, I became very glad not to have pursued journalism. As I said before, it was the link with writing that held appeal, but the majority of the subjects journalists have to concern themselves with – politics, the economy, bad news – just upset me. I think I imagined myself writing features. Better off keeping a blog!

The thing is, it’s only with hindsight that you can spot those moments of disappointment that were actually blessings in disguise. My change of course was a major one. I then went with a friend to France, thinking how nice it would be to swan around Paris, practising the language, only to end up teaching English and babysitting in order to scrape together the rent. This proved to be another important turning point: I was certain that I no longer wanted to be a teacher.

The third significant moment occurred last summer. Having finally settled on a career in publishing, I was determined to work at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. I was interviewed for two different posts and never got either. The exact same day I was rejected for the second post, I was invited to an interview for a job in tourism. They offered me full-time hours over the summer, part-time during uni, any specific days off I needed, good holidays, a bonus after the summer and at Christmas, flexibility when I needed extra days, and ended up being so much more valuable than three weeks at the Book Festival. I still work there now, and absolutely adore my job. Sometimes it is worth taking your eyes off the main goal in order to be content (and able to pay the rent) in the meantime.

Of course, I am still working on my career in publishing. I would still love to write a book, but the grown-up head on my shoulders is not sure I have it in me. I might have taken a roundabout route to get here, but I don’t regret a minute of it. The past six years have been the best part of my life, from the second I was thrown off course. Thank you, universe, for occasionally not letting me get what I want!

So although this blog is all about achieving goals, and as great as that is, try not to worry too much if things go off track. Sometimes, we really don’t know what’s best for us, and things can turn out even better than we imagined. May all your disappointments be opportunities in disguise!

Lauren

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15 thoughts on “Thank you, universe, for not letting me get what I wanted

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    • That was another realisation I had years later – the very close-knit nature of it isn’t for me! And it is incredibly small. Edinburgh might be a small city but it has everything you need.

  8. Wow, this is such a fantastic and inspiring post! I really enjoyed reading it and as a uni student just going into her second year it’s nice to know that nothing is set in stone. 😀

    • Thank you, I’m very glad you liked it! I think we get it into our heads that we should make a choice and stick to it, but it’s always possible to change our minds. Equally, if we make a choice and think it was a daft one, there’s no need to be hard on ourselves! Like Annette said, everything happens for a reason. Even if it’s not always immediately evident what that is…!

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