THE BLOG

Stop Trying To Get Your Shit Together Because You Probably Won't

20/10/2016 14:12
Jamie Grill via Getty Images

In recent months I have both graduated from university and turned the ripe old age of 23. By juggling a retail job, freelance work and the occasional unpaid personal project, I scramble through most of my days searching for the sweet relief of feeling "Wow...I really have my shit together!", before I pat myself on the back and give a double thumbs up to an invisible camera. But that feeling never seems to come.

Perhaps, it is due to the classic lack of self-fulfilment only a middle child would possess or down to my millennial state of mind, the feeling of being disinterested and bored with anything that doesn't get me either rich or laid.

In the time since hanging up the comfortable and reliable hat that being in organised schooling for 18 years brings, I've had long-debates over what to do next with my possible remaining 60-80 years on earth.

Should I live up to the selfish, booze-binging, internet addicted, Girls-esque stereotype that being in your early 20s is all about? Or spend my Saturday nights furiously copying and pasting congratulations emails to strangers on LinkedIn about their new positions?

I suppose moderation is key. That distinct balance between sometimes wanting to end up at a stranger's after-party at 4am, and sometimes wanting to start your own allotment. The hard part is trying to predict which one you'll regret not doing more of, when you reach your 50s.

However, the panic of not knowing what I'm doing and fretting over when I will receive my "I'm an adult!" badge is watered down as I turn to older relatives for advice. While some may have bought houses and know the perfect spin cycle to wash their delicates on, their lives are still peppered with their own inadequacies and guilt of not turning into the grown-up their 8 year old self had predicted they would be by the time they were 25.

But humans are just that. A guilt-ridden, largely flailing and failing species that just lucked out with opposable thumbs and living in a time when the internet exists. Even scientists, lawyers and doctors fumble through life like a drunk man rummaging through his pockets for taxi money, from time to time.

It seems the more I see grown-ups in the cold light of day, the more I realise that there is no one concrete pitstop in the journey of life where one's shit must be together. You lend yourself to a series of events ranging from the celebratory and comfortable to the dark and despairing, just by living. And there's no way of knowing which one will be next.

While this unpredictability may appease the type of risk-taker that likes white-water rafting or eating unpasteurised cheese, for this recent graduate it is something that I wish I could have learnt sooner, so I could mentally prepare for the crippling anxiety that comes with it.

Maybe I just need to take up mindfulness, join a jewellery-making workshop or simply live each day to the best of my ability, learning from the occasional messes I find myself in and trying my best not to turn out an all-round terrible person. The realisation that I can't join a class to find out how to succeed at life, or buy a subscription that tells me what I need to do to reach peak adulthood is a strange yet liberating one. Just like other graduates, I have no goals set for me anymore, other than the ones I set for myself. So we better make the most of it.

For now, while I feel comforted by the realisation that no-one really aces peak adult level in the strange video game of life, I'm somewhat haunted by the image of the wise and grey-haired 86 year old me, looking down and shaming me with an audacious eye-roll for ranting about my existential crisis over heading out on a Friday night, while I'm young, healthy and without responsibility.

But to her I say... I've been on the planet for nearly a quarter of a century already, you couldn't have helped me realise this before now?!

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