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Tomorrow, I Turn 25

Updated: Jun 7, 2019

Tomorrow I turn 25.

Today, I completed all 25 jobs.

Whilst I'm a bit behind on the write ups (I’ve been working full-time!), this just means you all have plenty more articles coming your way over the next couple of months. After that, I will explain in far more detail what I’ve learned and have planned for the future, and I very much hope it won’t be a 9-to-5 with a long commute at either end.

This has been, without question, the best year of my life. I have met hundreds, if not thousands, of new people, each an inspirational teacher in their own way and I will forever be grateful to all those who allowed me to work with them along the way, as well as friends, family and readers who have been so fantastically supportive.

Many of the jobs I have had the opportunity to explore have humbled me, especially working with the Police, in Crisis Management, Teaching, Politics, Exploring and with a Think Tank, as there have been so many who have dedicated their lives to helping others, whether through raising money for charities or by directly helping others and making a difference either directly on the ground or at a more strategic level. I have been able to try things that I’d previously only dreamed of, things that I would have once considered totally unachievable to the point of being slightly ridiculous, like Archaeology, Travel Writing, trying to be an Author (more on that one later) and Landscape Gardening. It turns out, I loved more of them than I’d counted on.

It’s fundamentally changed me too. I was not the most confident person this time last year, and the idea of letting other people read something I’d written, or even worse, hear me speak in public, was nightmarishly terrifying. A year later, I do these things all the time and have realised that I actually enjoy them. Stick me in a room with fifty people I don’t know and all of a sudden, it’s not an intimidating environment but a chance to learn about fifty interesting individuals.

Putting yourself out there on social media through a platform like blogging felt at first like I was opening myself to ridicule and criticism, especially for a somewhat controversial project like 25before25. Yet, time and time again it has been validated, first by people I knew and later by people I didn’t.

Mostly importantly, this year I’ve been happy. Nearly every day has been a joy. Every morning I’ve gotten up and looked forward to the days, weeks and months ahead. I’ve learnt something new every day and met new people every week. That variety has been so refreshing that it has almost been addictive.

What Next?

This is the million-dollar question and is the most popular that I’m asked, alongside ‘what was your favourite placement’. To address the last question first, there hasn’t been just a singular favourite. There’s been eleven. And I’ve loved them for different reasons and overlapping reasons. Go on then, here’s a quick snapshot of the list:

Other careers I’ve tried have also ticked those boxes, but these are the placements I also enjoyed most, whether because of the type of work I’d be able to do through them, the lifestyle I’d be able to lead or the people I’d be able to work with. Overall though, it boils down to the four core themes of writing, entrepreneurialism, being outdoors and making a difference.

I want to be able to give you an actual answer for what is next, and at the moment I’m afraid to say that I just can’t do that as I’m in the process of trying to confirm the things I hope to be able to announce in a month or two’s time. So I’ll have to keep you guessing a little while longer.

As it always does with me, it comes down to the desire for a portfolio career - multiple jobs in parallel through part-time, freelance and/or contract work. Going through the education system taught me that you had to choose and you had to specialise. Perhaps one of the lessons which has been best proven this year is that you don’t. You can mix several of your passions with several of your skills. What was labelled as indecision and fickleness as a teenager and young adult, I now realise can be turned into a strength.

I hope to continue 25before25 as a blog about exactly this – what is next, and how to design a career which is right for you. This is not the story of a stereotypical millennial being disloyal with no sticking power, but one of how to make the most of your multiple talents, how it will make you a stronger employee overall and how to find positive opportunity in what has before been seen as a negative.

A Final Note About The Money

An understandably common question I am asked is how I managed to fund this year, and it is only fair that I finally address this. I saved as much of my salary as I could during the year before, I was lucky enough to be able to move home and of course, I have been living as frugally as possible, all of which has made it possible financially. The vast majority of the placements have covered my expenses and some have paid. Finally, I have been pitching articles about 25before25 to the press and magazines, as well as spending several months working freelance as a writer for one of the companies I had a placement with (more on these things later too).

All in all, it’s been cost neutral – when I balance my books (both my parents were accountants, they trained me well) I haven’t saved anything really, but I also haven’t lost money. For the sake of one year in my 20s, it was worth it.

When I look back at life years from now with a perspective shadowed by old age, I will not remember a year without a salary, but I will remember a year where I learnt more than at any other point so far and the year that shaped me into the person I hope to be for the rest of my life.

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