Being a grown up is hard. Being 25 is not what I thought it would be when I was 18 and assumed that by this point in my life I would have my shit together. Instead, I’m living in a flat that I’m not 100% sure I like, in a job that I’m 100% sure I hate and am about 110% fatter than I ever thought I would be.
I am not financially, professionally or emotionally stable and my most committed relationship is the one I have with Nutella. Sometimes, I cry for no reason and sometimes I know the exact reason I’m crying but really would rather not be. Regardless, I’m never particularly sad when I’m crying, just disappointed. In myself, my ‘career’, my love life, my bank account and, quite often, in the fact that I have to pay actual council tax.
It turns out that being in your twenties is not the easy, feel good joy ride that Sex in the City suggested it would be. Instead it’s a time when you’re trying to figure out who you are, what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it. The latter being the most difficult because, if you’re anything like me, you probably know exactly what you want to do (namely, quit your job in the cut-throat legal world, live in a tiny house on the coast with a fluffy dog and write books) but realised very quickly that this is very difficult to do without money, a fluffy dog, or a legitimate plot idea that doesn’t include changing all the names and essentially just rewriting Harry Potter. Only with more dragons.
I always thought that by the time I was 25 I would be well on the way to doing what I wanted to do, be stable in my romantic life, my career and my living situation and have the kind of self awareness that would majestically manifest itself once I was out of full time education. Instead, I’m more insecure than I was at 15, need my Dad to help me pay my rent and am having to begrudgingly come to terms with the fact that I hate the career that I chose. It’s a hard learning curve that I don’t think many of my generation appreciate is going to hit them so hard, so early on in life. We’re so focused on picture perfect Instagramable lifestyles that its hard to focus inwards and work out if what we are doing, saying, believing and sharing is what makes us happy.
I’m not naive, I know that happiness is not a state that I will constantly be in throughout my adult life and that it is something that my generation strive towards with an inflated sense of self importance. I know that there are more important things like compassion, kindness and realism of the necessity to pay bills and eat food. But I don’t believe that it is youthful naivety to aim for, and work towards, being happy. Not an instant gratification type of happiness, but a contentedness and fondness for things that fill your time and ultimately, define you.
It took me six months of being in my job before I realised that I wasn’t happy doing it and that actually hate it. On the surface, it’s perfect: high powered, faced paced, work-all-hours. But it wasn’t until I took a day off (one solitary day off) and was panicking about not being in the office, having missed something that someone else would pick apart, have done something dramatically wrong that would only manifest itself on this one day or alternatively, someone pick up something that I had been frantically working on and claim all credit for, that I realised I was completely and utterly unhappy. Before, I had been too busy to think about it. I sat there, opposite my parents when I should have been enjoying the time spent with them and relaxing, frantically refreshing emails and worrying about what was happening without me. I knew that the office would not fall apart without me. This was actually part of the problem – that things would run smoothly without me made me panic about having to be there simply to prove that they needed me to be there. I was exhausted and very, very sad.
This realisation came with some other hard-hitting truths that I think had been sneaking up on me for a couple of years – or at least since I finished my last stint in university. I live now in the middle of a city. Being from the country, I had always assumed that I would end up in a city, living the city life and having cocktails during the week, able to get home without having to pay a small fortune for a taxi. Walking to work and being in the midst of the hustle and bustle seemed inevitable and exciting.
Instead, it’s terrifying. I miss green spaces and clean air. Being able to go for a stroll by just setting foot outside my front door. I realised, during the many train journeys home that I physically tense in a city. As I get further into the countryside, I start to literally unclench. No part of me ever contemplated that I would not be a city girl. But now, I spend hours trolling through rightmove for houses on the coast in the Scottish Borders.
I also assumed that I would be in a serious relationship, or at least, be mourning the recent demise of a serious relationship by this point in my life. I’ve had dalliances and flirtations or just plain had sex but nothing has ever flourished into something serious. This is a difficult one for me because I never wanted a relationship in the sense that my goal was to be gooey in love or married. But I did assume something would have come along. That it hasn’t is difficult. Rationally, I realise there is nothing particularly wrong with me and this just hasn’t happened yet because I’m picky and won’t suffer fools. However, rationality is not a constant in my brain so I spend most of my time assuming I’m not in love because I’m psychotic. Despite having never been diagnosed with, or showed symptoms of any kind of psychosis.
I also have no money. I have three degrees and a shit tone of experience and am still earning peanuts for working sixty hour weeks. This is not a revelation, I assumed I would earn little before I earned a lot. I just did not realise how little it would be. Or for how long. Or that people who sit directly opposite me and work 10 hours fewer would earn far, far more. This hasn’t caused the same internal soul searching as other elements of my life, it’s just fucking rubbish and makes everything harder.
The most difficult part about your twenties, at least for me so far, is having to dispense with all the preconceptions, assumptions and expectations. Not that others had for me, but that I had for myself. Everything I thought would define me and that would shape my life and how I lived is being challenged. My ever academic mind welcomes the constant challenge of ideas and of beliefs, intellectual preconceptions and constant re-examination of opinion. But when it comes to how you thought you would live your life: career, home, relationships and money, this is difficult. I went through a trauma at 21 which left me with PTSD (now treated) and residual anxiety. I was never an anxious person before but am now. How much this has changed and altered me going into my adult life, I don’t know and never will. But it adds an extra layer of existential crisis about how fundamentally different I would have been without it. Maybe, this would have happened anyway. Maybe not. This blog is my ramblings as I deal with this and free- fall through my life, one calamity at a time.