So here I am – unemployed, on the wrong side of my 20s, and slouched in my ‘seen a better day’ PJs. The guffaws and roars of schoolkids going home outside my window shock me into the dawning realisation that another day might be slipping on past without any great advancement in the life of Maggie Adams. Thus forms my grand resolution to open the laptop – set up a blog and start writing because if my life really is slipping down the pan I might as well document its apocalyptic decline!
I’m the perfect poster girl of our glorious Y generation (with the emphasis on the ‘why’). Brought up by the uproarious baby boomers with their thatcherite greed, multiple houses and enormous sense of ease and entitlement – to be shunted into a world crippled by an almighty recession stuffed full of ridiculous dreams that I’m starting to discover might not be all that attainable!
I remember confidently laying out my life plans to my mum as I blew out the candles on my tenth birthday cake. By the age of twenty four, I declared, I would be a tremendously successful actress with a beautiful house in London (four bedrooms would do – if it had a nice garden) and a magnificent husband to match with whom I would quickly start farming out equally magnificent offspring. It’s not gone entirely to plan. At the grand old age of 28 I’m four years late and living in a poky flatshare with two gay men in Tooting, have a less than illustrious acting career (for which read nonentity of an acting career) and am monumentally single.
But it’s not all bad (the mantra I must repeat on days like this) I have great friends and I live in a great city and I’m not shackled to some godawful job that forces me to exist purely for the weekend. Part of growing up has seemed to have been the grim acceptance that life isn’t as simple as a child’s led to believe; you don’t get all the answers by joining up the dots, or colouring the sky blue and the grass green – existence is far more gloriously muddy and complex – which can be a total shitter but it can also be a huge adventure.
I was always a very good girl. I worked hard at school, handed my homework in on time, excelled in all my exams, studied English at a good university – ticking all the right boxes until I realised that I had to choose what box came next and I really didn’t have a clue. I juggled lots of fantasies – Maybe I could take myself away to art college and invest in a myriad of berets before becoming a fine artist locked in a basement producing masterpieces that pretentious peers would coo over; or perhaps I could be a painfully cool graphic designer occupying some loft in Shoreditch, or maybe a pioneering journalist risking life and limb to uncover injustice, or maybe just maybe I could be that renowned actress the ten year old had dreamed of – gracing the stage at the National Theatre and being in (only really good you understand) BBC costume dramas where I got to wear REALLY pretty dresses. There was no competition really – the prospect of potential pretty dresses won through and I took myself off to drama school where I emerged with a much competed for piece of paper that said I could act – and by god wasn’t the world just my oyster….
Which brings me back to my flatshare in Tooting, writing in my pajamas at 4pm on a murky November afternoon with a few pennies left in my overdraft and the dull warblings of Dolly Parton pulsating through the walls from the gay flatmate’s bedroom. Four years and a career development loan later I’m not exactly living the dream – more dreaming of what that life could be – and trying to work out where the hell I go about finding it.