I had a realisation this morning that changed my life as I know it.
There I was, sipping my morning coffee hitting the refresh button on my laptop with the verve and consistency of a impatient toddler, waiting for an email to come through. “I’m getting old here” I sighed aloud (not my most witty line but I was only on my first cup of coffee). As I waited my mind began to wander. “I can’t believe it’s only 6 months until my birthday. I’ll be 22. I mean 23. Wait.. will I? What was I last birthday? Oh my god I was 22 last last birthday. Shit I’m 23 now?.. 23! That means in 6 months I’ll be 24…24. Twenty four. TWENTY FUCKING FOUR.
There it was. The life changing realisation.
And just to be doubly sure I whipped out my iPhone and did the thing were you minus your birth year from the current year. It soon confirmed the horror.
I am almost/basically 25 (my scary age and definitely the year I need to have my shit together by in terms of boyfriend/husband, career climbing & house buying).
Every day it feel like we are bombarded with so-called inspo quotes and Instagram pictures with accompanying hashtags that claim #makethemostofeveryday and #hustleharder. It’s the ‘life’ version of the workout philosophy “unless you puke, faint or die, keep going”.
Generation Y’ers the world is your oyster.
We are spoilt for choice and have almost unlimited opportunity. Certainly more than generations before us. Therefore we’re the generation with unlimited potential. We are made to feel because we can have it all, not only should we want it all – we should be striving for it. Not to mention achieving it. And just to complete the package there is a definition, or at least a rough guideline to what “having it all looks like”.
I believe it looks a little something, like this:
We should be up at dawn, fit in a work out in before we (sensibly sip not scoff down) our green kale smoothies on our way to our office job, an office which we won’t leave till 7pm after everyone else has cleared out for the night. We will then take our work home, unzip our size 8 little black dress, sit down in front of Netflix to a homemade organic whole foods dinner we cooked ourselves and our boyfriend (no preservatives or added sugars) before getting into bed and reading Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay.
If you’re not getting minimal sleep you aren’t working hard enough.
In between the #dailygrind we also should be just the right combination of homebodies and social butterflies.
And if Instagram and Facebook are anything to go by (which they shouldn’t be, but are) our wardrobes can be nothing less than a B standard.
I don’t know about you but I need at least 7 hours of sleep to function and the majority of the clothing in my cupboard are t-shirts and only appropriate as bed wear or post breakup slothing.
We should be saving our money so we can buy a house before we hit 30 but we also should be travelling to far away corners of the globe. We should know what we want in career and love. But we shouldn’t settle even though “time is running out”.
In our efforts to “lean in” are we setting ourselves up to become the most anxious, depressed, potentially over worked, burn’t out generation yet?
Think about it. Never before has there been so much talk of ‘mindfulness’ and medication. Now you can buy colouring books for adults and phone apps that teach you happiness.
We are told we are enough as we are but we are also shown how we should be.
We should be following our passions! Be the best at what we do!
We are told you can be, but what we hear is you have to be.
We can’t all be ‘the best’, contrary to popular belief and self imposed pressure. So my question is what is everyone else doing? The ones that aren’t the best. Are they wandering round feeling underachieving like I do some days? Are they saying fuck you corporate ladder and staying home to bake cupcakes? Or are they perpetually unhappy because they are constantly trying yet never good enough?
We are constantly reaching and striving. Any pride from our achievements is short lived because we are immediately on to the next goal. Wanting the next promotion. Wanting to tick the next box. Forgetting about all we have done and focusing solely on what we haven’t.
There’s enormous pressure and hype about making the most of life. Not wasting time and not letting opportunity slip away. Relaxing? Taking things as they come? Believing in fate?… pfft ain’t no one got time for that! And the idea good things take time? Excuses and sheer laziness.
One of my best friends sat across from me the other morning and said “I hate my job I want to quit.”
She sighed loudly and continued.
“I always get this way with jobs I know, but I thought this was my career path you know? And now I want to get out of it. But we want to buy a house next year… and then you have to start thinking of a having enough money for a family. And you need to be in a job for all most two years to qualify for maternity leave…. I want to be financially stable. But then I think should I just take the leap and start my own business like I really want to…argh I just don’t know.”
She’s 22 . Twenty-three this weekend.
Inwardly and selfishly I thought, yes! Someone to add to my wolf pack (in age and outlook).
Outloud I said “join the club”
We haven’t even hit our mid twenties and we feel like we may have just missed the boat.
I’m not going to lie. I want it all.
I want a successful, satisfying career. I want to fall in love, have a big white wedding and buy a house with an equally white picket fence. I want the golden retriever with the 2.5 kids and to be financially stable but with the wonderful memories of travelling to faraway places. I want to wear gorgeous dresses and have cocktails with girlfriends and stay home and bake cookies while watching trashy tv.
How do we fit this all into one itty-bitty lifetime? When people say life is too short, some sarcastic asshole is always quick to point out “it’s the longest thing we ever do” – excuse me, but it still doesn’t appear to be long enough.
I’ve spent the last two decades (and three years we’ve now confirmed) finding my feet and I am still looking for the elusive ‘balance’ that is apparently key to everything. My bank account is the victim of uni debt, rent prices, crappy casual retail jobs and those ‘fuck it’ shopping splurges. This is not a good start to funding a life of “having it all”.
Your 20’s are like the limbo of life (and not the fun kind involving music and a stick). No longer a child yet terrified of being deemed a fully fledged adult.
Maybe we can’t “have it all”. Maybe we have to pick and choose.
It’s like a multiple choice question on a test that only allows for one answer. It’s either A, B or C – despite the fact you want to circle them all.
Maybe we just close our eyes and blindly grab – hoping we make the right choice, and maybe not ever knowing if we could have made a better one.
Maybe we make the right choice, simply because we arm ourselves the power of choosing. We live actively not passively.
But I guess my end question is..
…having it all is it fair game or fantasy?