I learnt a lot of not terribly important things whilst at high school.
Things like how to sew a pillowcase, how to develop a deep loathing of volleyball, exactly how many times the boys could make cat sounds before the French teacher ran crying out of the room…
Also, some really useful things such as how many times St Paul could bombard the Romans with letters before they stopped politely telling him they were happy with their religion and considered feeding him to the lions…
What about all those really useful everyday tasks and bits of knowledge that we seem to slip through 12 years of schooling without learning? Why weren’t we taught these things, and where can a not-so-modern woman go to learn them?
This is what I wish school had taught me. Stick with it, some points are more poignant than others.
1) How to dry my hair like the hairdresser does.
Shops and magazines would have you believe that all you need is a fancy paddle or round brush, some shiny, goopy product, and a hairdryer. Lies! You also need an extra arm and a wall of mirrors in front and behind you. And even with that extra arm, you’ll never find the amazing combination of products and product application that make it look like they can. While I’m at it, I wish I’d learnt how to braid my own hair too.
2) How to paralell park.
Ok, I probably *could* learn this one if I had a very patient person to teach me. My driving instructor told me it wasn’t on the test, so I never learnt how to do it. I usually avoid street parking. There goes any potential career as a courier!
3) How to play a computer game without just mashing the buttons.
Hey cool, I passed the level! No, I can’t do it again.
4) How to walk and stand elegantly in high heels.
Instead of stomping around like a three year old playing dress-ups. I’ve come to the conclusion that most heels aren’t designed for feet shaped like mine and thus I live in Doc Martens. They have some quite nice dress shoes now, so I’m not too fussed. However, it would be nice to try stilettos occasionally.
5) Being single really isn’t that bad.
I’ve now been ‘going out’ with my Husband for 10 years, and we’ve spent almost every day of the last 9 and a half years together. I love him to bits, as he loves me to bits. But sometimes I think about those times before him and inbetween boyfriends. I wish I’d embraced the time more instead of worrying so much about being alone. I possibly would’ve been a better person now.
6) How credit cards work (not to mention fixed rate loans).
I kind of get it now, but there was a lot of stress and confusion in the early days and I think a big part of that stems from my Mum’s cries of ‘Don’t get one’, ‘Put it in the freezer’ and her constant worrying about us getting into debt.
I didn’t get a credit card of my own until I was 23. Some days I wish I had heeded those cries.
The hardest part for me to learn was that you can’t pay a month ahead. The bank just assumes it’s an extra payment. That got me into trouble a few times. And that confusing little interest rate they give you? Basically it means that if you’re close to the card limit and only making minimum payments, half of that monthly payment will get taken away from you each month as interest.
Basically I’ve learnt that I hate banks. Some more than others. Also, if you don’t physically have money to buy something, maybe you just shouldn’t buy it.
7) How to set up and more importantly, turn on a multimedia/stereo system.
If my Husband happens to depart this world before me, I will need to move on very quickly. Not because I don’t love him and won’t mourn every moment he’s not with me. No, it’s more to do with not being bored. I can’t for the life of me remember what plug goes where or how to use the time shift thingy on the hard-disk recorder.
8) The best fun, is fun you can remember.
I went to parties when I was younger, but I was never a party girl. I enjoyed cocktails, was partial to Kahlua and Coke and often got tipsy, but it was rare for me to have been fall down drunk. The couple of times I have been were rather scary, and most of the time I found I just drank to a point where I felt sober again (so it just felt like a waste of money).
Over the years I’ve drunk less and less, and these days, it’s pretty much a given that I don’t drink at all. It’s not for religious reasons and certainly not through any abuse of it – My body just doesn’t seem to tolerate it anymore. I’ll sometimes cook with wine or liqueur, or have a few sips of something if it’s a special occasion. But overall, I’m not too fussed.
Neither of us drunk a thing on our wedding day (it’s sparkling apple juice in the photos), and some of my favourite outings were ones where I was stone cold sober. I wish I knew more people that didn’t drink, but it is the national pastime after all. =(
9) You don’t have to follow the script.
Speaking from experience, having a folder, (and later an archive box) full of wedding related stuff from the age of 16 isn’t really that healthy. It kind of freaks your boyfriends out a bit too.
For some people, the whole big white wedding, own house, and kids, is all they have ever wanted. That’s fine. But for those that aren’t sure about it, or don’t like babies, that’s ok!
There really aren’t any rules, despite what peer and family pressure may tell you. That’s the best part of life. You can write your own script. Once I realised I didn’t have to have kids, get a mortgage or be stuck driving a sensible car, I felt free. I might not have much of a plan for the future, but I’m kind of enjoying the ‘choose your own adventure’ experience that comes from that.
Jas and I got married after 6 years together. There were no fireworks, no proposal, We were best friends who had gone to hell and back and it just seemed right. As did using the money we borrowed for our wedding to go away on a holiday for just the two of us instead of paying for 100 people to drink (see point 8).
10) Celebrities are people too.
I have an obsessive and addictive personality (you will understand this when you see all the chocolate wrappers around my house). I’ve met a lot of people in the public eye, mainly entertainers and have usually managed to either say something completely dumb, or be a flustered, screaming idiot.
Sometimes, just sometimes if you relax, be yourself and remember that these are people doing a job, good things can come from it. Not everyone wants to be a character or talk about their own work all of the time. Once you talk to someone like a normal person, you can learn a lot from them and sometimes even be friends.
You can do the girly handshaking bit once you get home again. ;P
11) Nothing lasts forever.
It’s not just a great song by Echo and the Bunnymen – it’s a fact of life. Nothing lasts forever. I was in a perfect little bubble when I was 17/18. Less than 5 years later I had lost people I loved, and my family had started to dissolve.
Everyone knows I’m a photographer, but I also have a photographic memory. I write a lot, and I hang onto lots of little and trinkets and reminders of happy times.
My advice for what it’s worth is to remember life offline as well. Print the photos, put them in an album, caption them. I have a musician friend that keeps a quote book and fills it with funny things her friends say when she is touring.
Use the time you spend with friends and family to ask them to tell you first hand about their lives. I’ve missed my chance with some people.
If it’s a lovely day and you have an opportunity to do so, go somewhere pretty. Soak in the view.
Nobody knows what will happen tomorrow, so make sure you remember and are remembered.
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