Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Your Twenties - Expectation vs Reality

When I was a teenager, I imagined that a few years into my twenties, I'd have my life sorted and would be well on my way to success and happiness. Fast forward to me approaching my mid twenties and things haven't exactly gone to my overly ambitious plan.

The frustrating thing about your twenties is that it doesn't usually look like what you expected it to. As teenagers or students still in education, we like to imagine that at the end of years of following the path set for us, everything will work out by the end and slot into place. Most of us have ambitions and an image of where we'd like to be.

However for me and many other people my age, it hasn't exactly worked out. A long recession saw to that and has seen many of us finding ourselves still living at home and wondering where the hell our lives are going. Even for those who have managed to fly the nest, low paying jobs have meant living by a tight budget and disappointing living conditions. 

Maybe I'm alone in my previously ambitious view of my future, but when I was 18 and imagined my life five years into the future (and I did) I expected to be well established into a career, have a nice flat and a wardrobe of designer items. Boy was I wrong.

Perhaps this is a right of passage for your twenties, but not one we are prepared for thanks to novels, TV shows and films usually showing us well established twenty-somethings. I think Girls was the first to show us a realistic perspective and attitude, and I am obsessively in love with the show, but let's be real here - the four girls still manage to afford to live in New York and live pretty fabulous lives even if it isn't SATC degree of fabulous.

It seems that for many of us, not blessed with a silver spoon or useful contacts, your twenties is the school of hard knocks and this is where we do the growing we need to become relatively well established thirty year olds. But then again, could I be writing this blog in ten years time with the same line of 'It wasn't how I thought it would be'? Perhaps the simple truth is that you never know where your life is going and what the future holds. There is a famous line in a Sex and the City episode that goes: That's the key to having it all: stop expecting it to look like what you thought it was going to look like. 

At the start of every year, I try and imagine where I will be by the end of it. It's a pointless task, because the simple truth is that I have no idea. At the end of every year, I think over everything that has happened and realise how I could of never have predicted parts of it. I think this year, this will be particularly true, thanks to an unexpected health problem and resulting surgery. How could I have predicted that?

In many ways, I feel that your twenties is a confusing decade. You're young but old, irresponsible but responsible, naive but experienced. You're constantly growing and trying to improve and establish yourself that you don't know whether you're coming or going. Then there is the peer pressure and friendly competition. Friends and peers are getting their dream jobs, travelling, getting married and having babies and you begin to feel left behind and lost, wondering when it's your turn. While so and so meets the love of their life, buys a house and runs a company, you find yourself still never having had a serious relationship, living at your parents house and still only just beginning your career.

I suppose in a way, it's this frustration that keeps us going and teaches us life lessons to hold close and allow us to grow. It just happens to different people at different times and hopefully for good reason. Without life envy, what would push us to strive for our own dreams? If everything happened how we imagined and hoped, what could we possibly hope to learn?

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