The media is constantly telling us that millennials are fucked. That my generation is obsessed with instant gratification and can’t afford to buy houses because we’re too concerned with buying avocado on toast for breakfast (probs just to Instagram it). I mean I think a lot of it is ridiculous – how can we save for a house deposit when rent and the cost of living is so high, babes? – but sometimes they are right. I mean our generation does have some issues.
But here’s my take on it all – our problem is that young people have never had this much choice before.
And as much as choice is a wonderful thing, it also means that most of us can’t make up our minds on what to do with this one precious life of ours.
Take university for example. Back in the day, only the wealthy went to university and it was usually to pursue a specialised career like becoming a doctor or a lawyer. So if that wasn’t you, you just got a bog-standard job or went into the family business. There were very few choices available to you. Nowadays with student loans and grants and an ever-increasing list of subjects to study in higher education, you can pretty much do what you want.
With career options too, you can literally be whatever you want now. So many millennials have side hustles they’re working on (you’re reading mine right now) that the opportunities to work for yourself or go freelance have never been better. And it’s much more socially acceptable.
There’s also a lot less pressure to settle down in your twenties. There’s an attitude that your twenties are for figuring out what you want to do and experimenting with careers and relationships and where you want to live in the world.
All of these things are good things. In fact, they’re amazing. Our parents and grandparents didn’t have these awesome opportunities we’ve been given.
But it’s that choice that’s messing us up. Because we can’t actually do everything. As much as I try to convince myself otherwise.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about making your life what you want it to be and going against convention, but there simply isn’t enough time in these short lives of ours to do everything. So every time I say yes to something in life, I inevitably feel like I’m closing the door to a whole host of other opportunities.
It’s also why our generation have come up with the Quarter Life Crisis (QLC) phenomenon. That point when you get to 24/25 years old and have a mini meltdown. Because we’ve done the studying thing and gotten our first jobs like good citizens, and then are left with the big ‘What comes next?’ feeling in our guts. Because there’s no set way anymore. Do I want to travel? Do I want to get married and have children? Do I want to move to Thailand and open up a shop selling homemade bracelets?
There’s too much choice.
During my Quarter Life Crisis, I gave up the career I’d been working towards and had achieved my degree in (Fashion Buying), moved to another city (Milton Keynes) and changed my entire friendship circle. I’d already lived in Australia and backpacked Southeast Asia at this point, otherwise I definitely would have fucked off to Argentina or something.
But we all come out the other end of a QLC. We make some life adjustments, assess our goals, attempt to figure out what we want. And most of us make some dramatic decisions at this stage, like changing careers, breaking up with long-term partners and spiralling into a pit of depression over what we should be saving our money for.
But like I said, I got through it.
Since then, I’ve managed to find a job I really like – a compromise of still working in the fashion industry but a more analytical role that suits me better. I’ve met Josh who I’m really happy with and I have a fantastic circle of friends. And although I’m nowhere near buying a house, I rent a place that I really love and never would have been able to afford in London. And all of these things are a direct result from that QLC because they’re all based in Milton Keynes. Happy ending, right?
Well, that’s not really the point of this post. I figured that all of you should know that life gets so much better once you get through the QLC. But the thing is, now I’m faced with a whole host of new decisions to make…
Because now I’m 29, on the brink of turning 30 which is coming thick and fast. And I’m still faced with too many choices. I still have the ambiguous pull between settling down and travelling more. Or staying in the city where my life has slotted into place or moving somewhere I’d feel more creatively fulfilled.
I’m at a crossroads again.
But this time it doesn’t feel scary and depressing like the QLC, because I’m generally pretty happy right now. But I do feel like I need to make the next step in my life.
You see, I’ve always wanted a big family. I think that’s the trouble with growing up as an only child. But nature kinda dictates that there’s a limited window within you can have that. And my window is getting narrower and narrower.
But I’m fully aware that once you decide to have a child, you are saying yes to the opportunity to have a family and closing the door on lots of other things. So it’s not a decision I’m taking lightly.
Especially because of the effect it will have on my travels. I mean, I’m sure I will still travel because that is something that is really important to me. I’m sure I will still regularly visit beautiful European cities and have getaways to the Greek Islands and rural Italy – you know, the “nice” trips. But I feel like there are certain adventures that are off-limits once you have children. For example, these are some of the things on my list that I want to do in my life:
- Backpack South America
- Cycle from one end of Cuba to the other
- Explore India and go on a yoga retreat (very Eat Pray Love of me, I know)
- Island hop in the Philippines
These aren’t experiences I think I would be comfortable taking a kid along to. Equally I wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving the kid at home with grandparents for that long (they all require a minimum a few weeks).
But hey maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’ll be one of those hardcore parents that takes the whole fam around the world in a camper van, who knows?
However, I still think it’s something to consider, especially for someone so passionate about travel, before making the leap into something so permanent.
I’m sure this is something everyone considers when they’re deciding whether the next step is right for them. You know, the pros and cons. But I do realise that my ‘Should I settle down?’ dilemma is massively heightened by my ‘Shit, I’m turning thirty’ thing. Obviously there’s no set time to do things in life but in my head your thirties are for family, you know?
I think everyone has their own version of reassessing everything when they turn thirty. Because it’s the end of a decade and are we happy with what we’ve achieved in our twenties? And what do we want to achieve in our thirties?
Chill though, it’s ok, this end-of-your-twenties freak out is nowhere near as bad as the QLC and I got through that. I’m just reassessing my goals again… And what’s the harm in that?
Anyone else is the same boat? Being 29 weighing you down? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @HeelsInBackpack!