Friday, 25 April 2014

What's Normal When You're 24?

When I was at home over Easter, I went for coffee (read: tea) with my two closest friends from school. We swapped stories about what we're up to at the moment, what our other friends are doing, how we're spending our summers now we don't get several months off to do whatever we choose.


When I got home, I filled Mama CupandSaucer in on all the gossip from my morning with the girls, and I spent a while over lunch chatting to her about the fact that we are all doing completely different things at the moment. And I'm not going to lie, panicking about it.

Not because I think we'll drift apart- perhaps we will, but I have a stronger suspicion that we won't- but because it makes me panic that maybe I'm falling behind. And I have a strong suspicion that I'm not the only one who feels like this.

I have these sorts of panics on a pretty regular basis, and Mama CupandSaucer has become very good at them. She kind of points out that life doesn't run the same way for everyone- some steam ahead then completely stall, some take a bit longer to get started but then shoot straight ahead, and for others it's a bit of a gradual steady incline. 


For the first time in our lives, at twenty-something, we are all completely free to do whatever the hell we choose. Some are living completely grown up lives. Some aren't. Some feel lost. Some find themselves. Some look like they know what they're doing, but really feel just as lost as the person who is quite obviously falling apart at the seams.

At the moment, I am surrounded by people of my age (or close to it) who are all at completely different stages in their lives. My younger brother, for example, is fully engaged in a career he studied for at university, owns a home and is engaged. My older brother, for example, lives in a house with a few friends, works two jobs that are entirely unrelated to what he studied at university, and is (to the best of my knowledge) single.

A very small number of my best friends are home owners- which makes me feel as though I should be, until I remember that none of the rest of my friends are anywhere close to owning a home. Some are living with friends, some are living with boyfriends, some are living at home with their parents. Some still live like students, while others dream of homes with an Aga and a KitchenAid (that would be me).


 We're all at such different places with our careers too- I have friends who are doing exactly what they always dreamed of doing and loving it- and others who are finding that their dream careers aren't exactly what they expected. I have friends who are still at university, and friends who graduated three years ago but are thinking of going back to retrain. 

To sum up- we are all completely all over the place at the moment. And it's very, very unsettling.

But I think what I'm trying to say is that it's okay not to be doing the same thing as everything else. What is it they say- comparison is the thief of joy? Life isn't so much a box of chocolates, as a snowstorm- every flake (life) is completely unique and develops differently. And that's fine. We'll all settle eventually. We'll all find our own way to where we need to be- and it's completely fine if that isn't the same place as everyone else.

16 comments:

  1. I love what you (well, your mum) said about how some people steam ahead and then stall and others take longer. But having your life 'together' and where it should be for your age is completely objective. I can barely even say the word 'mortgage', and I know people I went to uni with already have one. Does that mean they're any happier than me - the 24-year-old who is still trying to find the perfect job and struggling in rented accommodation? I doubt it. And happiness is all that matters! xxx

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  2. This is JUST what I needed to be told this morning after an evening/sleepless night of worrying worrying worrying. Thank you for this lovely post xx

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  3. 'What's normal at [age]' is a question you could always ask...I'm in my late twenties and have just finished my PhD and looking for a 'proper' job. I rent a flat with my boyfriend. I'm at the age where several of my friends are married, many more are engaged, and a handful have children/are actively trying for children. Some are happy with their jobs and are starting their careers, others are less certain. Comparison can be dangerous, and except perhaps for those you're really close to, you never really know what goes on behind closed doors away from the positive images and messages often posted on social media! I think if everyone aims for happiness, our own individual ideas of happiness and not what someone else thinks I should be doing to make me happy, then that is 'what I should be doing at [age]', But it is a tricky one!

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  4. Oh God I feel like I needed this post and I didn't even know it! I've been having this exact panic lately that I'm impossibly behind everyone else and will never catch up...your mum sounds like an angel!

    Bxx
    b-jolly.co.uk

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  5. Yes. To all the above. Loads of my friends are engaged, my younger sister is having a baby. And I'm still living at home with my parents (hopefully that'll change in september..). Sometimes I feel like I'll be left behind, but you're so right (and your Mum) that everyone does things at different times! x

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  6. This is literally the best thing I've read in such a long time. And I NEEDED to read this. I spent every day (no joke) panicking and worrying that I'm not sorted out whatsoever. At 23, all my friends either seem sorted out in their careers, love lives or both and I'm not sorted out in either- I am literally lost. But maybe one day I won't be, fingers crossed! xx

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  7. I get this and I get questioned a lot about my choices especially from people I went to school with and grew up around. Being 27/28 they're pretty much all having kids, I think it's probably up to about 2/3 of my school year are now parents. And I don't have kids, possibly never will - I get questioned constantly about why I haven't had any, especially now that i'm married.

    I should be having kids *because* I'm married. Sigh.

    Saying that few of us are married or own a house. It's funny regionally how different things become the norm first and so on especially when you consider the school friends my husband went to school with back in Pennsylvania when very few are married or have kids but are more head strong into a career.

    Totally opposite.

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  8. I am so glad i stumbled across this lovely blog post because it put a big smile on my face and made me realise I am not alone in my panicking! I will keep this post ready and send it to people who also need reassuring that life isnt the same for everyone. Thank you!

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  9. For the record I don't think it gets a lot easier. I am early 30s and really struggling with the idea that I should be doing more with my life. I am own my third career path, back on a fairly low wage and I feel like an endless disappointment to my folks. I know they think 'what happened to our girl that got top marks in school and had a uni degree under her belt by 20?'
    This is a lovely piece of writing. You have a really healthy perspective.

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  10. So good to read that other people are having the same worried thoughts as I do. I'm now 26 and some of my closest friends start talking about marriage, children, buying houses...They talk about going back to uni or doing some other fancy degree part time...
    And in between all this focused people with plans for at least the next 10 years is little me, single, no plan about what I want to work for the rest of my life and a slight panic that I will eventually reach a point where I will be stuck...

    But then, as you say... Life is no straight forward journey all the time. And this planning ahead for the next 20 years... Who knows what we will be doing in some years?
    I'm pretty sure that eventually I will see a job add and think, ok, that is what I want to do! I know so many people who suddely found THE perfect job for them and am happy with it now. So why should that not just also happen to me?

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  11. Loved this post! I'm 24 too and this is exactly how I feel about myself, my friends and other people around our age. Everyone's lives are so different at this point and it is so very easy to get caught up wondering why you're not doing some of the same things. But everyone concentrates their focus on a different aspect of their life in their early 20s - relationship, social experiences, education, career, nesting etc. That quote is one of my favourites because it us so true. You can be completely secure with your current lot in life...until it seems like everyone elsecus doing something different! Xxx

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  12. Getting to the grand old age of 32, I've now realised that there is no normal and it's good to be different. I've always been a few years behind my friends in terms of moving out, getting married and they've all made their families now, even though I'd met Mr P when I was 17 and we've been together ever since. When I was in my 20s I wanted everything to be exactly like them even though the timing wouldn't have been right for us. But we've taken our time and achieved a life that is good for us. It doesn't matter that we've not all had children at the same time. I've enjoyed their babies and I'm sure they'll fuss over mine when I have them and enjoy having a baby to cuddle rather than a 10 year old! You just have to be you and enjoy life at your own pace. Everything comes to those who wait! x

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  13. This is such a great post. I'm 22 and frequently have these panics. My boyfriend is working a great job with a great salary in the subject he studied at university and absolutely adores. I gave up my dreams of acting and now do reception work and constantly am terrified that this is what I'm going to be stuck doing for the rest of my life. Mama Chats are the best cure I reckon! :)

    Katy | Little Miss Katy

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  14. I'm 26 and going through this phase at the moment. Although I moved out of home and now part-own a house with my OH I am doing a PhD and technically still a student. I feel very stuck in the middle of grown up and not.
    But I'm getting used to it, like MamaCup&Saucer says, it's okay everyone takes their own path!
    Keep swimming x

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  15. Your Mama is completely correct! You make your own path and it can take you wherever or at any speed you want - it really doesn't matter what everyone else is doing as long as what you're doing makes you happy. Without being too bleak, we all end up in the same place and how we get there is completely up to us! :-) xx

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  16. Preach little miss alice! I am forever comparing our lives to our friend's lives. I feel so confused sometimes about what a 20-something couple should look like and it's so unclear, most of our friends have their own homes, are engaged or married or have kids and we are none of the above. We aren't far along in our careers and we have no real idea what the future holds as we have to start again in a few months time, with just a suitcase full of clothes and that's so horifically scary but even more exciting and I guess that's the joys of living at this time, in this country- we, the 20 somethings, can be whoever we want to be! We're not held back or subject to social / gender stereotypes like our olders, we can up and travel the world, or we can settle down and have kids and both are perfectly acceptable and acutally that's such a liberating thing- whether we dream of owning nothing right through to dreaming of mercedes and big houses anything is possible if we put our hearts, minds and souls in to it!


    hannah bee xo

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