10 times real life doesn't live up to expectations

Home-cooked food, new outfits, midweek nights out, paddleboarding and more

The Knowledge

10 Home-cooked meals
Do you find that there’s a gap between how you imagine something working and how it turns out? Somewhere between confidence, self-delusion and reality, there’s a void that makes truthful forecasting extremely difficult. Take your kitchen efforts, for example. Even when you follow the instructions in your recipe book to the letter, the finished meal never looks like the photo. While the pros present dishes that make you hungry just looking at them, even your finest creations bulge, dip and burn in all the wrong places.

9 Weeknights
You’re not a slave to your job. So, during the week, nothing can stop you from touring the city, dropping in at cool gallery events and moving from one glamorous party to another after work. That’s what you tell yourself, anyway. The reality is, you’re deep into a TV series marathon and routinely fall asleep on the couch every night. Perhaps it’s time to start trying harder to be sociable.

8 Work presentation
Remember that optimism you had when you were given responsibility for a new project at work? You were going to show your true potential, redefine corporate culture and blow everybody away with hitherto unexplored talent. Then you left it all to the last minute and had to settle for muttering a few words of excuse and handing round some hastily prepared print-outs.

7 Living conditions
Residing in one of the world’s most eye-catching neighbourhoods should be a lot more glamorous than you’re making it. That Marina apartment or Jumeirah villa you pay exorbitant rent for could be as stunning as the ones you’ve been drooling over. Except yours is filled with overflowing laundry baskets and garden furniture. Next time anyone asks, steal a picture from social media and claim that as your own luxury pad. They’ll never know.

6 New clothes
Did you seriously think you were going to look good in that new outfit? No matter how great it looked in your head, on the mannequin or on the advert, chances are, it won’t dramatically change your appearance.

5 Workout results
It’s easy to assume a single trip to the gym will reverse the effects of a decade of shawarmas. Don’t be surprised, however, when a gentle trot on a treadmill and a few minutes free-wheeling on an exercise bike doesn’t instantly transform your body. These things take time.

4 VIP rooms
The name is redolent of great potential. Everybody inside must be a very important person. They’re probably swapping yacht-care tips and stories about celebrity-filled parties on their private jets. That’s the assumption from the other side of the velvet rope. Step inside and you’re more likely to find a few half-eaten canapés, bored-looking business folk and the occasional reality TV starlet taking selfies.

3 Dinner parties
Maybe the folks on TV have better friends than you or maybe your hosting skills are not as great as you think. Whatever the reason, your attempts at sophisticated soirées with witty banter and late-night charm always seem to end up with at least one person snoring at the dinner table and guests squabbling over the cheese platter.

2 Paddleboarding
It looks so easy when you’re lounging on the beach, watching somebody else glide along the water, that you hand over a fistful of cash and try for yourself. Next thing you know, you’re face-to-face with a jellyfish having just flipped off the side of the board. See also: skateboarding, surfing, kiteboarding and climbing into a hammock. Some things are best left to the professionals. Or, at the very least, the reasonably co-ordinated.

1 Visitors
A visit from old friends or distant relatives sounded like a good idea when you were last back home. It even sounded like a reasonable notion when you responded enthusiastically to their request for holiday lodgings. Then, before you know it, you have a virtual stranger sleeping on your couch, leaving towels on the floor and demanding sightseeing tours.

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