It seems like yesterday that I graduated from uni. There has recently been much ado in the press about how female fertility plummets at the crippled old age of 34. Now at just 24, this means I biologically have 10 years to conquer my career an entire beauty market the world successfully get on the property ladder in London and no I don’t thrive south of the river meet an amazing man get hitched start having some babies and keep all those plates spinning without setbacks breakups miscarriages guzumpings. Stop to breathe. Just 10 years. It brings me out in a rash just thinking about it all, helped by the fact I am VERY impatient. This inner turmoil of panic I feel every day is not to be mistaken with a fear of getting older – I don’t mind the idea of being more sophisticated, wiser and no longer living with idiot flatmates… What I really fear is unfulfilled potential. I fear this more than anything else in the world.
The other fear. FOMO.
Being in your twenties nowadays is quite the transitional decade. Treated as an extension of our teens; the idea of settling down is considered preposterous, and the bizarre expectation held by some is that we should be charging around festivals, hideously drunk and wide-eyed on pills. Some young people, who do not embrace filth, portaloos or drugs (i.e. moi), feel a pressure to embrace this rather than admit how slightly more boring things keep them content – like books, competitive games of Articulate or luxury holidays. This fear, albeit one that I do not experience is called FOMO – fear of missing out. Have you gone out raving enough? Why are you not backpacking your way from ping-pong show to fish bowl drinking contest? Are you having enough fun doing things you are not particularly crazy about? To impress people who don’t care? And here lies the problem… Too much time is spent worrying about how we are perceived by others, especially when we are young. Too few twenty-somethings manage to figure out what actually makes them happy, and just crack on doing it before they become nappy changing, mortgage-bound and waiting for a hip replacement.
I believe the joy of youth is an age-facilitated ability to go out there and grapple with life as you wish, on your terms. I’m no expert, but feel experienced and enlightened enough to know the difference between genuine enjoyment and genuine time wasting.
Combating the fear.
It dawned on me a while ago that if you are not skipping to work in the morning and effervescing with excitement about your week – then you are probably doing the wrong job, have the wrong friends and generally need to slap yourself, hard. Granted that some jobs in our 20’s are stepping stones to the bigger career picture, but don’t spend too much time on these stepping stones, 2 years is enough time to put in here. If only more people took their ambitions seriously and got on with what they really want to do. I am very happy to say that my job is a source of joy and contentment. I ditched law not too long after graduating to work in the beauty industry, an early obsession marked by stolen makeup and nail polish applied liberally (and awfully) as a toddler. Beauty products had to be locked away to prevent expensive items from being ruined by my artistic expressions through the medium of eyeliner and lipstick (sorry Mom). I would toddle around House Of Fraser with my glamorous mother, swatching products on the back of my hand with a manic expression. My calling was always going to be in beauty, it just took a law degree, a year of working in grey law firms, temping and awful job at an awful tech start-up (with a sociopathic pervy boss) to realise it.
So at this point, career is all systems go. Husband is an optimistic work-in-progress and home is a conversation with some friends who are also looking to buy. Not there yet but I’m really bloody trying! The biggest learning from my 24 years alive is to do what excites you but is also good for you in a wholesome sense. Forget about how you are perceived by others or what your family want you to do, just start the life you know deep down will make you happy and don’t wait for a time in the future to start taking it more seriously.