Recently I’ve seen quite a few articles about things you should and shouldn’t be doing in your twenties. I even wrote about what I’ve learned from my twenty-something years a few months ago.
But as thirty creeps ever closer (okay, it’s still over a year away, but that doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about dreading it) I find myself reflecting on the past few years more and more.
The quarter life crisis
Life has changed a lot and our generation has more opportunities than ever before. We can travel the world, party hard, take internships abroad, do charity work, go to university, carve out creative careers and so the list goes on. Unlike previous generations, we’re far less likely to settle down early; instead the average age to marry in the UK is around thirty. Plus we’re all familiar with the figures on buying your first home.
So with these expectations and opportunities for travel, adventure and freedom at an all time high, can we ever live up to promise of our early adulthood or are we doomed to experience the dreaded quarter life crisis?
I’ve always felt a lot of pressure to succeed. At school I was a bit of an over-achiever; as an adult I’m doing fairly well, but I do worry a lot that my life should be better somehow. It seems that the consensus is if you haven’t lived large you haven’t lived at all.
Should you be booking that round the world ticket?
Although I love to travel, I’ve never wanted to spend months backpacking around the world. I enjoy my home comforts too much to be away for long periods of time; I’d much rather take lots of shorter trips to different locations.
Sure I admire people who work hard to afford that trip of a lifetime. They embrace their freedom and seek out experiences that they will remember forever.
But does that make their life more valuable than the person who chose to get a job, work hard and start a family?
Do you have a job or a career?
Since I started working, I’ve always worried that my job wasn’t an accurate representation of my abilities, that I should be earning more or progressing higher up the ladder. I would compare myself to kids I knew at school and doubt my choices.
Many of us don’t choose our careers; we fall into a job and make the most of it. Some people get lucky and find a career they love, but others always wonder what else is out there and how they could possibly achieve it.
As a blogger, I see a lot of articles about making your dream job reality by setting up your own business. This is something that I’d ultimately love to do, but at times it can be discouraging to read how well other people are doing when you feel stuck in a rut.
So what’s the answer?
With all these expectations floating around, it would be easy to succumb to regret, to believe that you haven’t grasped all the opportunities that were available to you. No matter how happy we are or how full our lives, we all have that friend on Facebook who constantly posts pictures of their trips to the Great Wall of China or updates on their latest promotion. Even if we have another 300 friends in the same boat as us, that one person can make us question our priorities.
The truth is it’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind of life. You get a job, a partner and a house and suddenly it’s a lot harder to walk away and go travelling or take a chance on starting a freelance business, even if the idea becomes increasingly enticing. Some people rise to the challenge but others play it safe.
Well, no one has the perfect life, although it may seem like it from the outside. Ultimately we all have to live as best we can, form relationships, support ourselves and our families. Everything else is a bonus.
And remember, it’s never too late to find your passion or have a meaningful experience. Just be true to your own dreams and don’t let the expectations of others paralyse you.