I am so confused about what I should be doing in my twenties, and I'm exactly half-way through. What if I've missed something? Am I having as much fun as I should be? Why haven't I done X, Y and Z yet? Do I really only have five years before A, B, C?
I heard an interview with Phoebe Waller-Bridge where she spoke about wanting the skin from her twenties, but her head and her heart from right now (she's 34). Then I had a lightbulb moment: I'm only 25, and that's a very acceptable age to be unsure and unsuccessful. In my head I had finished uni, labelled myself an 'adult', and started comparing my life to that of women ten years older than me - real life examples as well as internationally renowned writers. Now I'm trying to take a step back and say that it's okay to be unsure.
I hated and loved this article in equal measure: Twenty things to do in your 20s.
The tag line about 'seeing the world, protesting and have sex with unsuitable people' irritated me immensely. However, once Moore gets further into the article she makes refreshing suggestions about postponing adulthood, and making space to continue learning. (general gathering of knowledge is just as valid as expensive university degrees). She recommends taking the pressure off and enjoying life, which is great. But what does that mean? Can you enjoy your twenties without going to Bali, getting high at festivals, or meeting beautiful people in expensive London clubs? Instagram doesn't think so...
It's as if there's a great dichotomy between those who:
a) go full-pelt into a prestigious city grad job and get stuck in the grind but earn good money
b) travel and drink and get tousled hair and excellent tans and lots of Instagram likes
I have found myself bang in the middle of those two possible outcomes. I have travelled - to Cornwall. I have worked - for myself and odd jobs. My tan is non-existent but I have some great photos of nights out with friends, and my Instagram is fortunately littered with beautiful beach sunsets and paddleboarding shots (all taken within a mile of home.) I don't earn much but I'm not in debt. My writing business is slowly building and has growth potential, unlike some of my previous zero-hours jobs.
This is not school or uni, and there are no longer any assessment criteria to meet. I do not understand what you have to do to get an A. Is it all about happiness and contentment? Maybe, but nobody can expect to be joyful for every hour of every day. What should my work/life balance be? What should be bank balance be? Who should I have around me? My own list looks like this:
1. Daily Purpose - feeling worthwhile, not worthless. Knowing what to do when I get up in the morning.
2. Practice with People - friendships, relationships, colleagues, family.
3. Learning and Knowledge Building - many, many podcasts.
4. Balancing Bank Accounts - staying out of the red with a little safety net.
These criteria will probably change, and some days (or years) will be much better than others. But as a general rule, I'm not causing any harm, I'm making steady progress, I'm generally pretty happy, and I've still got time.