I often hear the older generation say that they wish they were in their twenties again. It sounds like that was a golden decade for them, the last chance they could be care free before the pressures of adult life took over. The stories they tell about travelling or their first job or what antics they got up to with their mates sound like great fun. Starting a career, buying a house or settling down are topics that don’t really feature as they reminisce on old times. I wonder if those aspects felt as much of a burden then as they do to those in their twenties now.
I feel like I have been oblivious to most of the adversity being a young woman growing up in the modern day can bring. It’s only recently that I’ve started to pay attention to the issues that have a huge impact on my life whether I realise it or not. It can be literally anything, from unhealthy influences from social media to financial woes that seem relentless. It’s a decade where our lives change dramatically and we’re expected to handle it maturely but with little life experience. As I’m now 23 it’s fair to say I’ve had a couple of years to get my head around what life can throw at us, but I feel inexperienced and unprepared at times. I’m still trying to navigate the minefield of balancing work, social life, relationships and ‘adulting’ and it doesn’t look like it’s going to get any easier.
First of all it’s such a weird age to be, especially if you’re under 25. You’re not a child anymore but then you’re not really an adult. Trying to strike a balance of being mature but also not loosing your childish side can be difficult. Sometimes I think I’m fairly mature for my age but at other times I still think I’m a teenager. In reality I’m probably neither and it can be a hard pill to swallow. This became painfully apparent to me recently when I was at a trampoline park not long ago. I saw a teenage girl bouncing around with ease for an entire hour, somersaulting her way across the room. Now I used to do trampolining when I was younger and how much older than her was I really. I mean school feels like it was yesterday so surely I can do everything that she’s doing right? It’s safe to safe that I definitely could not do even half of what this girl could do!!
In my experience I generally find there are two groups that people in their twenties fall in too. The first group are acutely aware of just how difficult reaching the expectations of being a grown up is; and they seem to want to get started on achieving these goals as quickly as possible. For example, getting a good job straight out of college or uni that will allow them to build a career is super important to them. Wasting time on dead end jobs won’t give them the head start they are looking for. They also tend to set their sights on buying their own property the moment they can afford it, usually after years of hard saving.
The second group are, what I would describe as, more free spirited. On the hole they take the view that they have the rest of their lives to be serious and their twenties shouldn’t be wasted on mortgages. A lot of my friends who fall in to this category spend a large amount of time travelling the world. It’s generally all about the good times and making friends. Work is just something they have to do in order to fund their lives, it doesn’t define them or reflect their long term goals.
These two groups are generalisations (but I think you get what I mean) and both have their pros and cons. I can safely say that I fit right in with the first group. While on paper it all sounds very sensible and obvious to set yourself up, I can’t help but feel that there might be things I’m missing out on by taking this path. Of course everyone needs a place to live and a means to pay their way but does it have to be done so urgently? Buying a house these days is becoming increasingly difficult and as more people continue on to higher education, jobs aren’t easy to find. So some might say that yes, a sense of urgency is needed. But on the other hand, with age comes more responsibility. There might not be another time in my life where I don’t have worry about anyone else and can live from one day to the next. Am I missing out on what could actually be the best years of my life?
If you take a look at social media there is a very real pressure on young adults to have their lives together, to know exactly what they want and also be successful. Flicking through people’s bio’s I see CEO, owner, businesswoman/man here there and everywhere. I fully support the ‘go for it’ attitude and I like seeing young people do well for themselves but the reality is not everyone can or wants to be the same. The internet can make you feel like working a 9-5 job is considered boring and uninteresting. That your first house must be worthy of a Grand Designs episode or every piece in your wardrobe needs to be designer. Again, these are generalisations and I know a lot of us don’t think like that but that’s the perception online unfortunately. It’s drummed in to us every time we scroll the timeline.
I don’t really know the answer to how anyone should live their lives to get the best of both worlds in their twenties. I can’t help but feel like if the pressure of time, money and social media was alleviated a little we might be able to figure things out, but unfortunately that won’t happen in the near future. As each generation grows up they will face the same dilemmas, probably a whole raft of new issues too so I guess the best we can do is muddle through in the hope that everything works out ok!