Why you don't need to figure it all out in your 20s
I've been wanting to write a post like this for a while and after seeing yet another vlogger announce a book launch, as well as the growing number of vloggers/bloggers/instagrammers/friends of friends taking their front row seat at London Fashion Week this week, I thought now was the right time.
Firstly I want to say the age of the internet does bring great opportunities and I don't want this to come across as a rant. To all the self made book publishers, product CEOs and ambassadors that have come out of this crazy digital age, I honestly and whole heartedly congratulate them...but you know me, I have to give some balance and talk about the realities of being in your twenties when a book deal doesn't come so easy...and neither does paying rent.
A close friend of mine turned thirty this month and it was during a conversation with her I realised; why is there such a huge hang up about turning thirty? Both of us exchanged fears of how, for some reason, thirty became the cut off point; as soon as you hit that age, all opportunities will cease to exist, you're placed high up on that shelf and life as you know it is over. Perhaps it's living in a tough city like London, perhaps it's the fact that Kylie Jenner has a net worth of $5 Million, whatever it is, we were definitely not alone in thinking this.
But I've got news for you darlings, life doesn't stop at thirty, you don't just have your twenties to make a real go of things and then that's it, game over. And from the common feeling between myself and my girlfriends, things actually get better.
As I got closer to 30 and the fear of all I hadn't achieved was looming above me, I looked for solace in those around me who had not only made it to, but surpassed this hideous age and still somehow seemed quite happy. The most natural thing to do was turn to my sister, three years my senior she could tell me the truth, 'it's not that bad in your thirties is it?' to which she assured me it wasn't. This was then echoed by a number of friends and colleagues mirroring this sentiment.
As I mentioned previously, the digital age is a fantastic one; the opportunity for the individual and the control that is available over your life and what it becomes is vast. But with this comes the inevitable feeling of jealously, insecurity and just not feeling like what you have, what you've done and what you are doing, is ever going to be enough. With the hoards of social platforms to stalk people on, this generation is bombarded with thousands of people (young people at that) who are much more successful than most are or ever will be. They have more money, better style and seem to have it all figured out by the age of 25 and younger. With the biggest issue focusing on the urgency of success and how everyone wants everything to happen now and more to the point everything that I want, should happen because I want it to, or because I've worked so hard to get it. When the reality is, things actually take a long time to come to fruition and most things don't happen just because you want them to, but it's how you deal with these situations that really aids in your development and overall success.
But one thing these digital prodigies don't have, is experience. I don't want to generalise as I'm not one to say who's life is richer in experience than anyone else's but those formative years of adulthood, let's say between 18-26 are some of the most valuable in terms of finding your confidence, finding yourself and finding where you fit. I'll talk from my experience in order to try and make my point as clear as possible.
Upon graduating from uni and entering the world of work a lot of things happen and a lot of firsts happen. For me it was having my first desk, my first email signature and the first time I was the given actual responsibility rather than being protected under the guise of an internship. In those times you meet and interact with people you probably never would do had you not had to seek employment in order to fund day to day life. Living in an expensive city like London is also a lesson in itself. Having to spend money on food and travel instead of bags and shoes is a lesson that unfortunately, most of us have to learn at some point, but one I'm grateful for. Despite the struggle of holding down that first full time job, having to impress difficult bosses, never feeling like you're good enough and never feeling like you have or will ever have enough money, what you must take from your twenties is this is the time to do whatever you want. I had so many chops and changes and yes, perhaps if I'd got my shit together earlier I'd be far more successful than I am at this point, but this is my journey and my struggles and if these are the lessons I've had to learn so be it, eventually it's all come together and only now is life starting to make a bit more sense.
The one thing I knew was inevitable was change, nothing is constant and as long as you keep going, you will end up somewhere. And I really do see that now. For all the challenges and hiccups that just don't seem to make sense along the way, I honestly believe everything happens for a reason and even if you vear off track slightly, all you need to do is refocus and your human instinct will find a way of bringing you back.
So as a 31 year old, I urge you to make the most of your twenties. It's the decade when you can make a ton of mistakes and are still young enough to change things. There is so much possibility in your twenties and as soon as you realise that, everything else will eventually follow. Try out everything you could possibly want to do and stop comparing your success to that of others. Life isn't actually the competition it's made out to be and in the words of Baz Lurhman, 'the race is long, but in the end, it's only with yourself'. Experience everything you can because at the end of the day, there's a lot of life to be lived after 30, and where's the fun in having it all figured out by 25?
Of course when I was a keen young graduate, Youtube was just a glint in my eye, but I can tell you one thing; I wholeheartedly would not change my experiences in exchange for a hugely successful youtube channel. Yes having the money would've made life a whole lot easier, and getting to travel would have been pretty great, but sacrificing those parts of my personality and character that were really nurtured in my twenties through all the people I met and interacted with is not something I'd want to risk. Things like having to work with people you don't really want to and getting out of bed when you really can't be bothered, or doing that presentation when all you want to do is just runaway are the things that really are the making of you. Meeting some of your best friends because they were sat on the desk next to you, getting hideously drunk at the Christmas do, sharing a flat with annoying strangers and finally finding a boss who really sees the potential in you, is what your twenties is all about!
Value everything that comes your way and more importantly, learn from it. Realise that you have the choice to make your life anything you want it to be and no, that may not equate to millions in the bank and the perfect home office but the choice is there, and it's always there, you just have to be brave enough to make it.