Not Great Expectations

‘I am not in this world to live up to other people’s expectations, nor do I feel that the world must live up to mine.’ ~ Fritz Perls.

Panicked. Anxious. Questioning what I should doing and where I am now. There was I hoping my twenties would be a carefree existence with the distinct joy of finding myself and my place in the world. The moment the pressure lifts from academics, then the job search/be successful pressure hits full throttle. I feel guilty not knowing what I should do with my life with absolute 100% certainty, I’m chasing ideas and running with them (stong pull:fertility lab). But if something isn’t happening, when do I decide to give up and try another avenue.

The Daily Mail released an article today. It’s crazy how many of us fledgling adults are slumping into a ‘quarter-life crisis’, and sad that the pressure of life are getting to us at a time in our lives when we should be enjoying our newly found freedom and be full of hope for our futures. Instead many of us are directionless and uncertain. I remember a few months after I graduated feeling this way, I read the quarter-life crisis section of the Prospects.ac.uk forum and was shocked at how low some people felt. I remember one girl who had graduated in 2007, had been working temp jobs and just felt like a robot, sick of living with her parents still and wondered how long it would be til something came her way that was even loosely related to her degree. One guy shockingly felt so down that he had contemplated jumping in front of the train as his life felt so static, lacked meaning and had spent so much time unemployed and feeling useless that he thought he would never get employed. My heart broke for these people, would I feel the same if nothing had worked out for me years in the future? A shade of failure and inadequacy.

As the article suggested – take a break from the rat race and do something meaningful to lift your spirits. Which is precisely why I’m in Canada – avoiding stewing in my anxiousness and an unstable economy (plus the small matter of love). I have dipped my toe into the volunteer realm, the thoughts of making a difference at the dog shelter and getting started in a new project freed my mind from the worries of what I should be doing, but happy to do something I wanted to do. If it takes me longer to find my calling (scientific journalism? creative writing?) or be given a chance in the working world (Health Service hire me!) then so be it. It’s hard to say that and I do worry, especially when I see the busy streets and roads at 7am of people making their way to work and thinking ‘Shouldn’t this be me?’. What if my untapped potential fades away? What if no opportunity presents itself even though I keep my ears a-prick? What if I’m out of employment too long, does that make me a loser? Should I go to graduate school?

Something that always hurts when reading these articles is the insensitivity of some of the comments. Claiming Gen Y are a bunch of whiners and feel we are ‘entitled’. I certainly worked hard to get my degree but I never feel like I was owed anything. I think if it was known how many resumes some graduates have sent out to secure a single interview, the number of young people working for free just to get experience for the hope of an entry-level job in the future, the competition, the moments of feeling worthless. The vicious cycle of ‘needing experience, but needing some experience to compete for the experience opportunity’ plus the curse of student loans, maybe they could understand the upset.

The authors touch on pressures from the celebrity lifestyle. This certainly isn’t me, I love a new pair of shoes and something sparkly to add to my accessories carousel  as much as the next girl but if need be I can live minimally and on a budget. I think we’re bombarded with images of what ‘success’ is and by some mystical osmosis we start to absorb these projections. Which is the source of unhappiness. Success is purely subjective, it’s where you want to be. Expecting something unrealistic is only going to lead to heartbreak and stress. I’m still trying to figure out my definition of success (with happiness leading the list) but it certainly won’t be shaped by anything other than my wants and desires.

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4 Comments

Filed under Building my CV, Career, Graduate, Life, Life Lessons, Musings and Aphorisms, NABLOPOMO, Personal Development

4 responses to “Not Great Expectations

  1. Julie

    I really think it’s the celebrity lifestyle that dictates success and all those shows. I remembered a lot of my girlfriends and classmates graduated pretty much envisioned a “Sex and the City” lifestyle but it never quite materialized because they couldn’t find a job and now they’re depressed. Some of them have gone quite extreme saying that they wished they had cancer so they feel there was no reason to live (ouch). Some of them are living the high life but it’s on money they don’t have though. I also think because of TV and celebrity lifestyles, we feel that owning material things translates success. I know people in their forties who hate their jobs but they’re working to earn money for designer things. Its kind of crazy that you’re willing to sacrifice food for nicer stuff you know.

    Anyways, I’m glad you’re doing something for your soul and spirit like volunteering and other hobbies. I feel it keeps one distracted from the QLC. Even though I blog the stresses of work and real world and wonder “when on earth did my life become so adult?” I find things on the side like cool spots I find anywhere, books I’m reading, and hobbies I’m pursuing :-).

  2. I really resent the idea that Gen Y-ers are just sitting around waiting for jobs that they think they are entitled to. If I did have that belief, even briefly, it was quickly dashed as soon as I graduated and spent some time in the real world. Sure, I know some people who think their life should be handed to them on a platter, but who doesn’t?

    Really thought-provoking post!

  3. Firstly, I adore your writing. This was perfectly written and very fitting to many of us bloggers right now, and I loved the opening quote so much I may have to steal it as a personal favourite! Yes, there are many Gen-Y-ers who whine about things and profess a sense of entitlement and disregard for actually working toward something. But there are a LOT of us who take the opposite road – instead of sitting around waiting for something to happen, actually decide to take steps to MAKE something happen. If you’re not willing to be an active participant in the shaping of your own future, then quit complaining. 🙂

  4. I agree with Emily Jane- great writing. You had me hooked. And I think that Gen-Yers get such a bad rap, and there are definitely some out there that fit the mold of whiners and complainers who feel entitled, but also so many driven young individuals who want to make the world a better place. I just take my focus off of other people and what they are doing and keep centered on waking up and being a good person on my own. Otherwise a person will get swallowed up in this world.

    Best,

    Hannah Katy

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