JAMILA: "I'm good at work but bad at life"

Jamila Rizvi: When I grow up, I want to be 27.





Okay, so I’m going to admit from the outset that this post may get me arrested. Or at the very least, draw the attention of the NSW police to a number of things that I’d prefer they didn’t know.

So for the purposes of any law enforcement agencies reading this post: Please presume I have taken an awful lot of artistic license and that the anecdotes are largely fictional or exaggerated. For everyone else: They’re not.

Next week I will turn 27-years-old. In my head, this is a very grown-up age. When I was a little kid I actually used to think to myself “When I grow up I will be 27”, which now I think about it, was a solid, achievable, relatively minimal risk career aim.

And there were many things that seven-year-old me thought that 27-year-old me would be able to do. There are also many things that friends, family, colleagues, the community, you know, SOCIETY, thinks 27-year-old me should be able to do. Problem is, I can’t do them.

This is not a self-depricating backhanded way to fish for compliments or portray myself as a ditzy damsel. I’ve worked for Federal Ministers and even a Prime Minister, I manage one of Australia’s leading women’s websites, I’ve run a student union and I’ve got two degrees.


 At work I am the picture of organisation. I like formulas, I like rules, I like lists and I like things being crossed off. I like deadlines, I like goal setting and I like systems.

I know how to get shit done.

But somehow that just doesn’t translate to my life outside of the office, which has led me to the conclusion that I am – while good at many things – NOT good at life.

It’s true and I’ll prove it to you.

Basic Life Skills I Am Yet to Learn and Tasks I Should Be Able To Do But Can’t:


1. Changing a tyre. I throw all my feminist principles out the driver’s seat window when it comes to cars. Anything about cars. I honestly don’t understand what makes them go in the first place and I certainly don’t know how to fix them. My understanding (and care-factor) stops at petrol.

2. Going to the doctor or the dentist or following up on any kind of medical paper work whatsoever. I will tell you a secret if you promise never to tell my mum…. I have never ONCE claimed money back on Medicare. Not because I don’t need the money (oh if wishing made it so) but because of the organisation required in making that money appear.

3. Eating balanced meals. I had a creaming soda spider for breakfast. Nuff said really.

4. Fold a fitted sheet. I have friends with cupboards full of perfectly folded bedding. I do not even have a cupboard.

5. Take care of a baby for more than 20 minutes. I never did the babysitting thing as a kid. I really like small children (we tend to be on a similar wavelength) but I am genuinely very nervous around babies. You should not leave any baby you like, alone with me. I might drop it… or leave it on the train.

6. Remember all the road rules. Well, there are a lot of them. And remembering who has right of way is something I struggle with. Also with when I can overtake when there is one full line and one broken one together.

7. Having all my superannuation in one place. I have a fund for every job I’ve ever had. Wheeeeee!

Admittedly, there are a lot to remember.

8. Look after expensive items. I bought expensive sunglasses for the first time last weekend. I lost them in 24 hours. True story.

9. Put money in a savings account and leave it there for a whole pay cycle. I am a very good saver. The problem is I am also a very good spender. My savings account is basically a revolving door of electronic transfers.

10. Open a bottle of champagne. We did a case at law school about a guy who popped the cork into his eye and went blind. I use that as my excuse not to open bottles of champagne but the truth is that I do not know how.

11. Build a fire. I can’t think of an instance where this skill might be required since I am not a camper. Still, I feel like I should have it.

Death trap. Terrifying.

12. Cook a meal without eating most of the ingredients in the process. I rarely cook for myself, despite the fact I quite like to cook because if I do, I consume SO MUCH during the preparation bit that I never have stomach capacity left over for the eating bit.

13. Hold a sparkler. New Year’s Eve is like hell for me. There is a picture from a party last year of me smiling at the camera and holding a sparkler in front of my face. I look very happy. In truth, I was terrified and just trying to act cool.

14. Have any sense of direction whatsoever. I don’t really understand maps. I’m one of those people who, if you ask me where north is, will point to the sky. I am a liability to travel with.

15. Don’t know my own home phone number. I’ve had the number for 9 months. No idea what it is.


If there were a zombie apocalypse tomorrow, I would be the first one up for cannibalisation. Because the most useful contribution I would be able to make in the fight for survival and to rebuild human civilisation, would be to sacrifice myself as food for the others.

I explained this to my boyfriend last night. He tried to be supportive. “No way! They wouldn’t do that, you have a skill – you can cook. You could cook for people and wash the dishes. All the people who are out hunting and gathering and rebuilding civilisation and doing useful things will need someone to cook and wash up for them because they will be tired from being useful.”


Disclaimer: Under no circumstances should my parents be blamed for my lack of life skills. I am deficient, it is true but not for want of a good teacher or role model….. you should see my mum’s linen cupboard. It’s freaking sheet perfection.

What life skill have you failed to master?