Since the day that we can string sentences together, we are asked what we want to be when we grow up. I’ve been through all the options. To “farmers wife” when I was 5, complete with my own sit-on tractor, to “pop star” when I was 11 and collecting Spice Girls singles. And to genuinely not having the foggiest from aged 16 to aged 29 1/2. But I’m here to tell you, dear reader, that it’s okay to not have the foggiest and to just “go with it”.

I have friends who have known exactly what they were going to be from day dot. And I just never had an inkling. There are so many options, so many industries, so many roles. I found it so overwhelming that I just put it on the back burner. Which is frightening when you see all of your friends reaching their ambitions and you don’t really have any! But here’s my story and how everything has panned out for me, thus far.

In the UK, we make a lot of decisions that we aren’t really prepared for when it comes to determining the rest of our life. From aged 15, we start with GCSEs, which is a huge task in itself to recite usually 10 subjects or more as in depth as I know I had to learn them. We then get to A-levels and dissect four subjects (sometimes more, sometimes less) to the nitty gritty. And we are then expected to know what we want to do, to pursue it at university, to attack the very cells of what makes a subject tick. Sometimes we’ve studied it before, sometimes we haven’t. I thought I had covered all my bases. But what all this studying and preparation doesn’t do is to expect the unexpected.

So, as its my first post, a little background into my education and how I got to my place at university. An A-C GCSE student, a C-D A level student (I was *not* expecting that jump!) and I got through to a university through clearing. I pitched to my parents who thought that my grades weren’t up to scratch, presented my case and got to the university I wanted but on a subject I had never studied before (sociology) with a verbally binding agreement with my Dad that I could go to University of Plymouth, as long as I got a job. I moved to my halls on Saturday, had a job at Plymouth Pavillions swimming pool as a lifeguard on Monday.

I partied hard in the first year, settled down and went to lectures in the second and pulled my hair out over my dissertation in the third year, all whilst juggling shifts. I received a 2.2 but, after settling down in Plymouth and not really being ready to leave, plus being super unsure about what careers I could really get into with my degree, I decided to stay for an extra year and gained a postgraduate diploma in business and marketing. What happened next is a bit of a jumble.

So, whilst working at Plymouth Pavilions, the management put me through all of the leisure qualifications known to mankind. Swimming teacher, pool plant, trainer and assessor, the lot. So really, that was where my life was heading. I had the experience, I had a qualification in business and management. I was going to be in the leisure industry. Life had just pushed me in that direction. So after graduating (more partying), I moved back home with my parents and started applying for jobs. I had taken my brother’s pub shift as he had gone to uni by the time I got back but I relentlessly applied for jobs within the leisure industry.

The day I got the job as an operations manager at a local swimming pool was an amazing day. The sun was shining, birds were singing. This is what I want to do and where I am destined to be.

Wrong. You really don’t know what you shouldn’t be doing until you’re doing it. I stuck it out for five months. The area was unsafe and I really had to move on. The brain has amazing defence mechanisms so I don’t really remember about my time there.

I have had three jobs since then (2009) and now. Funnily enough, two of them involved leisure within the same company, where I was a client services manager and a swimming instructor for a baby swimming company. I was made redundant as the manager and, after teaching for 25 hours a week in swimming pools, my skin inconveniently developed an intolerance to chlorine!

So. Leisure qualifications. Leisure experience. But unable to use them due to my skin! So what do you do??

I handed in my one month notice and started working from home. Applying for jobs. 9am until 5pm. Every. Day.

Luckily, my skills stretch to client services too so I was able to use that to my advantage. What felt like a million interviews later and I have landed the perfect job for me. A customer services manager in a luxurious fashion brand! I have only been there for a few months, but I am absolutely loving it. Life has a funny way of figuring things out for you. And I think I’ll be doing just fine.

Frances Barrett