We only ever had two objectives: a large family and, eventually, take over the tenancy of the farm from our childless widower boss.We achieved both.Approaching marriage I was nineteen and decided to go to a Family Planning Clinic.I was naive, shy, the investigator officious, the proceedings intrusive. Gave up, just had children. Mr G wanted to ‘be a farmer’, his parents insisted he went to college, not just drive a tractor.
It was writing which started me on a serious ‘lurch’. At a meeting, the farmers were having their annual moan about the Chelsea Flower Show. Cost them, bad time of the year, what good did it do our industry etc. I got cross, said either do it cheerfully or stop doing it. Shock horror. I wrote a letter to our trade press. The editor said ‘Love the article, when’s the next’ and sent me a cheque. Seriously bowled over, then wrote for about 5 papers regularly plus the odd letter to national press. Then I got hired as a REAL journalist. Had no training, editor liked my style and knowledge of our industry. He then knocked my style out of me, and the paper folded. Next?? A degree. For the first few months the scathing remark ‘journalese’ appeared on my essays. I got my degrees, found France full of exciting history and wrote a historical novel. I sent it to a well-known publisher, who had it read. I had a report: knew my subject, excellent characterisation and dialogue, too academic. Do a re-write and they would re-consider. I did, the publisher had gone broke.
Now, from my great age (??) three of my children retired, grand-children in full activity I ‘examined’ lives of family and friends, and how times have changed. When I married a high percentage of people would have settled on their ‘career path’ levels high or low. They would have stayed there until retirement, sherry party, gold watch, hopefully a good pension, bye-bye nice knowing you.
Now, I would divide my acquaintances into three categories. The ‘lurchers’, no fixed objectives, no training, take what comes, make the best/worst of it. Then the speculators, risk takers. Something, tumbledown house, talk their way into a job, risk investments, and ride more of a ‘helter-skelter’. The third category are (and I think it is quite a small percentage) those who knew what they wanted from quite an early age – UK probably after ‘O’levels, when they have to opt for subjects to lead to university entrance. My father-in-law wanted to be a teacher, he was. His wife wanted to be a gardener, no chance, born in 1893. Their elder son wanted to be a scientist, he was, a very successful one, even has a room named after him at his last Professorship. One of my sons decided in the middle of gap year, that decision lasted his working life. Five of my grand-children have degrees, good jobs, but had no actual objectives. Would you dare to put yourselves in any of these ‘categories’?