Over the past few months, I have found myself thinking about what this whole ‘becoming an adult’ idea – which our society will tell us, should be completed by the time we are 30. Apparently, therefore, the ‘late 20s’ period is when we are growing into our ‘full’ adulthood, as this is the time that we are being faced with adult challenges and responsibilities. This period is meant to be difficult. The whole ‘growing into maturity’ thing.
So this has got me thinking – why is this time so difficult? Why is existence for us late-20-something’s so challenging – even sometimes a complete nightmare – at this pivotal juncture in our lives? As I delved into this topic again and again with several and different friendship circles, I decided to sit down and consider what was actually behind this consistent brain drain that I was pinning on this concept of ‘full’ adulthood.
I am 27, in the 28th year of my life. All of a sudden, I find myself thinking, gone are the days of carefree thinking and uninterrupted dreaming and fun. I need to stop living outside of myself and concentrate on the mundane but necessary. Recently, the very first questions I encounter in interactions seem to be around marriage, children, investment properties, owning your own home and measurement of your bank account against thousands and the tens of thousands benchmark. This for me is increasingly uncomfortable, as I meet not one of these so called ‘requirements for someone my age’. This therefore inevitably means that I am met with the awkward moment of silence, pitying eyes and the cliché panacea statement for all occasions of this circumstance: ‘well at least you have your career’ soon followed by ‘don’t worry you’ll find someone’.
I have always believed myself to be a free thinking, strong and independent individual that has never let societal expectations of ‘what should be’ affect me. But recently more often than not, I have found myself on the verge of a panic attack when mentally trying to line up all of things I ‘should’ have by now. It wasn’t until a recent conversation with a close family member that I started to see the toxicity of this way of thinking.
Rule 1. Which should always be abided by and never forgotten, even in moments of extreme heartache, loss or pain: Do not compare your life and existence to others or against someone else’s standards!
I find myself looking around at other people’s lives and questioning if I am on the right path by choosing to go my own way and not judging my life achievements against theirs. What I fail to remember in those moments of self-doubt is that it always seems rosier from the outside looking in. I need to remind myself that material checkpoints are no automatic equation for happiness. If I truly sat with my thoughts, reflected inward instead of outwardly projecting feelings of uneasiness based on factors I can’t control, I would realise that my path, while materially quite lean in the traditional sense of the term – is making me happy. I am finding my own way in life, based on trial and error, experimenting and making mistakes, where I am taking leaps of faith and sometimes falling flat on my face. I am living life in the truest sense of the term. I wear my heart on my sleeve, I love with my entire being (even when society tells me not to), I don’t settle when I am ‘supposed to’ and most importantly of all – I trust my journey; even when others tell me I am on the wrong path.
So while I am completely in a sense of instability and fluidity within my life at the moment, one thing remains clear; the possibilities are endless. Life, when you choose to allow it to, takes you on a journey and surprises you in the most amazing ways. Yes, it may not take you towards a future that you had planned or envisioned or what society dictates it should look like. But most of the time, it will take you somewhere that is better, unique to you and more fulfilling than you could ever have imagined. Life may not look the same for everyone but stop and enjoy the beauty of what is your existence and try not to judge it against anyone else’s standards but your own. Thus, you become an adult when you become one. Because your path is your own, for only you to walk.