LEAVE school, go to college/university, find a job in that chosen field, totter up that career ladder, receive pension, retire playing golf, making soup and joining a bridge club.
This is what schools drill into us since our first times tables test, and when you don’t take this path, you feel like you’re on the wacky races with no guidance pit-stops and a worrying lack of financial fuel.
School doesn’t teach you tax returns, eeking out your pennies, how to ride out the days of fear-stricken frozen panic that the next contract will never come, and the self-discipline to wake up every morning (preferably before noon) and keep ploughing through the unknown.
We’ve juggled everything from nannying to call centres to spraying perfume in people faces in department stores, whilst trying to spin the plate of career dreams and walking the tightrope of family and friends telling you to “get a proper job”.
The circus of the freelancer is entertaining, granted, but like a touring circus, has undertones of disarray and something slightly dark and sinister.
“But you get to go to yoga and have afternoon baths!” you hear the full-timers cry. But In reality, we’re sitting in the bath drowning our “to do list” in despair and only going to yoga so we don’t check our phones every two minutes hoping for the job of our dreams to soar into our inbox sprinkled in fairy dust.
Our CVs are longer than our arms, and we’ve got FAR too many Facebook friends we’ve worked with once and can’t remember their faces. The constant flow of new people and places requires quite the knack for small talk, a diary timed to the minute and expert levels of Google maps navigation.
Homegrown talent like Edinburgh’s David Wither and Ultimo’s Michelle Mone have clawed their way to the top through sheer determination and foresight. Surely with figureheads like these, it’s proof it can be done and we should be doing more to encourage school children who want to go down more unconventional routes of work.
We both had our own businesses by the time we were 21, and sure, being your own boss means you go greyer quicker and you make more mistakes than Joey Essex explaining the theory of relativity, but the rewards and freedom taste so so sweet.
Yes there are fantastic start-up funds, business advice and accessible programmes a la “Dragons’ Den” to encourage entrepreneurship, but no one ever sat down at 15 and told us the caffeine-fuelled reality.
We’ve learnt to ride the high highs and low lows with the help of good friends and a stern talking mother, poor woman either gets phone calls of squealing elation or wailing despair, no middle ground, no “so what are you having fir yer tea”.
But she knows from the sacrifices we’ve made, the birthdays we’ve missed, the regular pay checks we’ve turned down and the amount of cheap pitta bread we’ve lived off … we wouldn’t want it any other way.