How on earth did I get here?!
When I was little, I wanted to work as my dentist’s secretary. She answered the phone, fed the fish and was in charge of the stickers. A job with both variety and responsibilities. I had already ruled out ballerina and astronaut as too much like hard work, but Debbie’s job looked pretty sweet.
Fast forward a couple of years, and I wanted to work with children. Now I have two of my own, I salute anyone who can do this and remain sane. Keeping my calm when surrounded by little people who eat Playdoh but not their lunch, hide my phone in the catflap and post our mail into the loo is difficult enough when they are my own. I understand that teaching young people and watching them grow must be incredibly rewarding, but it’s not the job for me.
Then I got into horses, which is not only incredibly expensive, but very time consuming. It was my life, and when I wasn’t mucking out at the local stables I was washing up in the pub to earn money for the next hack. I was sure that a career in international eventing awaited me, even though I was a terrible rider with no understanding of the challenges of combining talent, hard work and lots of luck. But it was the first inkling I had that I wanted to do something active with my life, and that being outdoors and using my body made me feel good.
The last ambition I had was to be a writer. A journalist, a novelist, I didn’t care. I was sure that accolades and awards would be mine, but I never quite got around to putting pen to paper. The novel is still unwritten.
So I’ve grown out of the dreams of being on the end of the dentist’s switchboard, and I’m pretty sure Zara Phillips has got the eventing world sorted. I’ve ended up working in media, selling advertising space to clients. The perks are fantastic, and I’ve learned how to negotiate, build relationships, create a business plan and bring it to life. I’ve worked with names from Chanel to Sony to Apple, and I’ve eaten in more Michelin starred restaurants that I deserve. But I’ve got to say, it’s not what I dreamed of.
So what happened to the dream of being outside, of being fit and active? After the Uni years, where I put on a cheeky stone from beer and cheap carbs, I took up running. I discovered that I was bloody minded enough to keep putting one foot in front of the other. When I moved to London, running was cheaper than the gym, so I got my trainers on and explored the city. And I kept running. Now, with five marathons behind me and a fine collection of half-marathon medals, I feel like I took the dream, and made it something achievable. No, I’m not Olympic material, but training five times a week for 16 weeks and then running for 26.2 miles has given me the confidence to know that I really can do anything. The pudgy girl who got teased for her thunder thighs can run a decent time in a marathon, and what’s more, I’ve done it more than once. To the skinny girls at school who were rude about me when I hitched my skirt up to look like you – bet you couldn’t keep up.
And writing? My career means I work with some incredible media brands, so I’m surrounded by the written word. And sometimes I wish I were on the editorial side of the fence. I’ve spent lots of time thinking “if only…” But this year I stopped moaning, and started a blog. And do you know what, it feels good! I have been featured on influential blogging sites, retweeted by excellent writers … and I’ve achieved what I set out to do. I used my body to achieve a milestone, and silence the voices of nasty teenage girls in my head. I put pen to paper and wrote. And I’ve learned that just because your dreams don’t come true in one way, there’s no reason you can’t take that square-shaped dream, squish it through a round hole, and know you’ve smashed it, just in a different way.