Surviving your 20s

Last night I went out for dinner with my friends and it was great fun as always.  I felt like I was in a cheaper, slightly backward version of Sex in the City as a group of 20 somethings shared this week’s mishaps over a curry.  Now, we did Carrie and the girls proud by covering a lot of topics revolving around men but the one I found really fascinating was our discussion about life in your 20s.  We are all in our 20s and at various stages in our careers but we all casually joked about how we assumed the fresh faced professionals we looked up to when we were younger had their lives in order.  How we thought they were settled and content in what they were doing and who they were.  But now we’ve all had the crushing reality check that the doubts and fears most of us have in our teens don’t really go away. They just casually adapt into new fears which I think is damn right rude. I worked hard in my teens and assumed I would be a fulfilled professional by the time I was 24. I feel like I’ve bought a faulty item but lost the receipt.  However, the great hope that my friends and I cling on to is that we’re not alone.  We are all struggling with the same worries together and I know there are many more of us out there.

The truth is there is an overwhelming amount of pressure on 20 somethings. I don’t know about you but I find it hard reading about the housing market and how my generation will struggle to buy a property.  I also find it hard reading about the huge amount of graduates who can’t find work.  The Independent reported in 2014 that 40% of graduates were still job hunting six months after graduation and a quarter were still unemployed after a year.  Yet, if you casually look at numerous advertising campaigns, young people are depicted as spontaneous and vivacious creatures who live for the moment.  As well as this, social media provides the perfect platform to compare your life to others which is unbelievably damaging to your self esteem.

We have to be professionals and yet throw caution to the wind, whilst capturing it and finding a great filter on Instagram.  I’m struggling to deal with all the contradictions.  How can we jump and be spontaneous when we having crushing reality waiting for us when we return to earth.  Friggin YOLO can do one.

I’m really not trying to write one of those blogs where I write 20 translations of ‘Your 20s sucks’.  I’m simply sharing my views that it is very easy for people in their 20s to put an overwhelming amount of pressure on themselves.  Many of us have expectations for our lives so we panic when it doesn’t go the way we planned.

I had to deal with many crushing reality checks after graduating from university.  Picture the scene.  An ambitious graduate who’s accustomed to an independent lifestyle.  Penniless and clueless she moves back home with her parents.  Dreaming of London,  success and a sassy cosmopolitan lifestyle she applies for every job under the sun, only to have made little progress.  As you can see, my life is pretty stereotypical.  Whenever people ask about the ‘exciting’ things I’m up to I can’t help but feel ashamed by how mediocre and predictable it sounds. Not at all like the life I wanted to live.

The question is, what do we, the new shiny generation, do in such circumstances?  In all honesty, I don’t know.  But, as someone who is experiencing this issue first hand, I have a pretty good idea of the adjustments that have helped me.

First of all, I thought returning to my small hometown and family was a life sentence.  I didn’t think there were any opportunities at home, especially in my field, and this mindset made the transition incredibly hard.  However, after months and months of no change, I began to realise that I needed to accept my circumstances and try and make the best of it.  As soon as I started to network and develop my creative skills, I got more work and became happier.  I was working for something, I was putting my ambition to good use and because my home isn’t a cultural hub, I found that actually I was cornering the market which put me in a unique position.

And this is when my home became less of a prison and more of a lifeline.  I know it’s hard to accept your circumstances when you have a very vivid dream but this transition put me in a healthy headspace.  If you keep comparing your life to your expectations, you will bury your self esteem and the pressure you put on yourself will be unbearable.  And you don’t deserve that.  So stop!

I’m not going to lie, my life is still very fluid and my future is even more vague than before.  I still feel lost, I’m still living at home with my parents and I’m still trying to work out what the hell to do with my life but I am a better person for working with the conditions I had.  I now know that staying at home isn’t the end of the world and I feel more prepared than ever to take whatever life throws at me.

It’s terrifying but, sometimes, you’ve just got to go with the flow.


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