When I was 15, all I wanted in life was to have a happy life, the magic ability to cook and to be a vet so I could see bunny rabbits all the time. Standard. Achievable. Random? I also wanted to and thought I could have all of this immediately - as soon as I left school - and when I shared this thought with my parents, they laughed. They waited patiently for my older and much wiser cousin to visit and sat me down with her.
Then I realised what aspiration, ambition and reality was. My cousin Natalie is effortlessly cool. She drives a BMW, she's an actress, she worked tirelessly to reach her goal, she has a UK degree and a HK degree, she wore the BEST Chanel ankle boots that evening and what's more? She did it all herself.
"I want what she has" immediately escaped my lips. I saw everything she had and knew that with figurative elbow grease, realistic ambition and hard work, I could have everything I wanted - and more. I think the phrase "I want what she has" is equally awkward and distasteful, but crazy and ambitious. Like, you can't just expect to be handed what you wanted at any given time.
Today I think I credit a lot of what I have and what I've worked for to Natalie. Without her, I'd probably still be a darn naive, impressionable and lesser-focused person. Having her as my role model at the time helped me to realise that there were tiny steps I could take - just like her - to becoming who I wanted to be. I wanted to be effortlessly cool like her so I asked her what she was doing at my age. Right after that evening with my cousin, I dug out a notebook and wrote myself a 10 year plan.
- Finish school and get good grades. (Note: I still didn't understand the concept of University at this point.)
- Save up money until I'm 25. (Anyone else once imagine that 25 was the benchmark for being an established human?)
- Sell articles and novels to magazines, websites and publishers.
- Buy Chanel ankle boots and wear red lipstick.
- Have my own apartment with an L-shaped leather sofa and a side table in the entrance hall.
- Be able to drive.
The "I want what she has" mantra is part bratty but part catalyst-for-ambition. Did you ever meet someone who inspired you to be more than you could ever imagine at the time? Share it with me in the comments or by email!