Here it comes, the mid-twenty freak-out. It’s 2015 in how many months? I’m going to be 25 soon? I thought I was supposed to be doing something real by then…
The mid-twenty freak-out is common and you never know when it’s going to hit.
You got back that assignment with red marks all over it, you forgot where you put that textbook, you read that Facebook post about the 19 year old who won a Nobel Peace Prize or something…whatever it is, it spirals. We don’t remember why it is we went into this program, we will never get a job, we will never own our own condo downtown, we will never be real contributors to society, we will be stuck in this vortex forever.
Take a second, and remember why it is you do it to yourself…why it is you are going after that thing, that far-reaching goal, that puts you in the mid-twenty freak-out.
Yes, we’ve read the news, we’ve heard the statistics…no, we don’t know what were going to do either and yes, we can’t get jobs…thanks for telling us over and over.
Some days we are excited about the future, some days we are forlorn, and most days we just accept that we have no idea what’s going to happen-that’s how we survive.
Nothing is easy to do these days, that’s what they say. It is hard to get a job in everything. So why not do something we like, at least?
We know what they say about us: that we’re spoiled, that we don’t know what real work is anymore, “if only you knew what it was like when I was your age,” and so on. We get it. We know. We know how hard things were for our grandparents and out parents. It’s a different world now. It is because of all of them that we can pursue this thing…this thing we all passionately want but don’t know how to get.
When you experience the mid-twenty freak-out, you have to think about this thing, you have to remember the sole reason why you do it. I’ll remind you what it is if you’ve forgotten (it’s easy to forget in these moments), it’s happiness.
We decided we want our lives to have meaning…is that so bad? Give yourself a break. Your grandparents worked hard, it’s true, but they did it so you could be happy. Now, we must go on that quest and achieve it.
Yes, you may not find the ideal job, yes it make take a long time to find any job, yes you may have to take your mother up on her offer to house you in the basement, which she has offered to make into an apartment for you and then live there forever…but remember your efforts are not for nothing- they have a purpose, and one day, just maybe, our generation will grow up, and we will be a little bit happier than the last.
I did the unthinkable, I was a “real person” at a young age but I turned it away to pursue my dream. I got into teachers college right after my bachelors degree, and low and behold, I got a full time teaching job at a private school right away, and on top of that, a few months later, a spot at the school board as a substitute. When I told people about it, they would say, “Isn’t it, like, really hard to get a teaching job?” Now when I told them I left all of it behind they either look at me 1. Like I have just escaped the insane asylum, or 2. Like they hate me. I’ve gotten quite used to it over the past few months.
Why, you ask? Sometimes, I don’t know. I do know what I was doing when I applied to go back to school for my Masters of Journalism. I was on the search for happiness. I went into teaching for the wrong reasons, like many, I just didn’t know what to do. I’ve always liked to tutor, to teach someone to write well and see their eyes pop with understanding, but teaching a class isn’t really the same. I like to read and write but what can I do with that where I can actually make a living? Teaching, of course.
As soon as I entered teacher’s college and left the York University newspaper behind, there was something large taken from my very being, I felt it each day but tried to ignore it. I need to write. I need to share my ideas with the world. I felt this strongly as soon as I didn’t have it anymore, and so I did something about it, I told the admissions team at Ryerson.
I don’t remember ever not having this need to write. It was ingrained in me forever. What made me leave it? A thought that I would go back even though I knew time would never permit it? The thought that I needed a real job? A real career where I would have a good starting salary and increases every two years? Of course these are important and practical, but what is all that without happiness? What is an apartment, if I’m can’t enjoy it? What is having your own family when you’re young, when you can’t provide them with the most basic necessity, your ability to share happiness with them?
I always thought that if I could make someone smile, laugh, frown, or cry at something I wrote- if I could make then feel-then my life would be worthwhile. But instead, I did what so many others did-I did what made “sense.” Well, world of the sensible, I say no.
So to all those other twenty something’s that are doing the opposite of what their parents told them to do, to all those people who look at you like you just fell off the plant mars for being in school for a profession that apparently has zero amounts of jobs available, I say, I’m with you. Pursue happiness, purse meaningfulness, what else is there?
Yes, we may want to punch the girl you know from high school who is successful and married in the face when she posts on Facebook. Yes, when your best friend tells you something about someone who is younger than you who is now starting their own business, the first words out of your mouth may be, “that bitch.” No, you are not a bad person. You’re human. You are a person in pursuit of your own goal-and there is no time limit on that.
Yes, we’ve been in school way longer than is strictly necessary, but we like to learn, and in 10 or 20 years, we’ve not going to compare amounts of useless degrees or years spent in school, we will measure success but the smiles on our faces and the fullness of our hearts. So, do what makes you happy, even if it gives you a semi-heart attack every other day. For now, enjoy what you have, because in a few years we will look back on these days and laugh. For now, enjoy pursuing your goal without real responsibilities, live each day…not freaking-out (not too often, anyways), but enjoying the chase.
So on those days when you have the mid-twenty freak out (okay, every day) remember the wise words of John Lennon (before Yoko-Ono came around and ruined his life): “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”