The thing about the holidays is that everyone and their dog wants to send you their best wishes, and they want to catch up. They don’t want you to spare any details, and they don’t want to know the short version of the story.
Everyone wants to know how we’ve been, and what we’re doing. Before we ask them, we know exactly how they’re doing – because our timelines are filled with magical births, happy engagements and promotions, so we try to avoid catching up. It could be anti-social, but we’re probably more eager to protect our pride than our reputation as a social butterfly.
How do we define success? How do we decide when our lives have taken shape or when we still have miles to go? Sometimes I wonder if we ever really have a countdown to having it all, or whether having it all is the myth we, along with our parents and grandparents, believed.
I was speaking to an old friend, one that has done particularly well for himself. After graduating he was lucky enough to start his dream job pretty much instantly. He will always say that he made his own luck, and that his career is down to a fool proof recipe of hard work and persistence. I will always say that I use the same ingredients, but I never seem to get it quite right.
However, he’ll be the first to admit that where his professional life thrives, his personal life does not. On paper, he has it all but he still feels the bewilderment of his mid-twenties. Each of our situations present their own challenges, we both think the other has adulthood down to fine art, yet we fail in particular areas of life.
What we have to accept is that we never really have it all, there’s always room to grow and there’s always more that we have to do, there’s always more that we want to do.
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I feel this every time I see another happy boast on Facebook. I know I should feel happy for every single person I know who manages to make magic happen in their twenties. I should clap when I see another rabbit being pulled out of a hat, and I should watch in awe when someone does the impossible. Instead I endure the stab of jealousy that we all know far too well.
Every day I’m faced with more and more of my peers putting their lives together like they’ve just found the last piece of the jigsaw. Every day I remind myself they each have their own problems, whether they care to admit it or not.
Behind every love story is a history of heartbreak. Behind every “I Do” is an “I Don’t.” Behind every big moment there are a hundred tiny moments where someone felt like giving up. Behind everyone’s success, is the sacrifice is took to get there. Behind it all, is dumb luck and forced smiles.
This is our twenties, this is how is has to be.
We are not done growing, and there is no better way to grow than to figure out why it’s not working out for you. It’s like being a teenager again, except with bills instead of lunch money, and crossroads instead of stepping stones.
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In hindsight, I thought I’d have it all figured out by now. I never thought I’d still be scrambling to make ends meet, or that I’d still feel as confused as I did in my freshman year of university. We all possess the same idea of our twenty-something years.
These are the glory days, the days where we can make anything and everything happen. Make it or break it, sink or swim, fight or flight- these are the days that matter.
Sometime it’s hard to keep going when we keep chasing our tails and spinning in circles. Light fades from our faces, sparkle fade from our smiles and every step we walk becomes that much harder to take. But every accomplishment means that much more, and every win becomes golden. Our lives are more enriched, our memories more poignant, our happiness more precious.
We’re never in the clear, though. In ten years I will be steering myself towards my mid-thirties, and I’m sure I’ll have much more to complain about, more puzzle pieces to fit together, and more heartbreaks to stitch up. Maybe my career will have peaked, or maybe there’ll be more steps to climb.
Maybe I’ll have a baby, but maybe I won’t.
Maybe I will be married, or maybe I’ll still be figuring that one out, too.
Maybe it won’t be okay, but it just might be.