The Expectations of Growing Up

Growing up is weird. Am I an adult or still a child as I make my way through my twenties? People around me are getting married, having children and buying houses whilst I don’t even like to make my own doctors appointments. As soon as you hit 21, it’s like society delivers a gift at your door – wrapped in uncertainty and a bow holding in the pressure to succeed, and out pours all the expectations for these next few important years of your life. University. Travel. Family. Debt. Career. Excuse me, does this have a return address?

There is this perpetual pressure to accomplish it all by the time you are in your mid-twenties. Travel the world, soar to the top of your career, buy a house – while our twenties are supposed to be the best time of our lives, why do we feel so rushed to get through them? I’ve heard that this is the peak time in life to take risks, step out of your comfort zone and just go with the flow – then, there are people like me who feel too paralysed by the “what if”s to take those risks, and starts to fumble with even putting one foot in front of the other. For me, I feel like I know what I want (and don’t want), but the big question mark is how to get there.

One of my biggest fears is that one day, I will look back and regret the chances I didn’t take while I was young. Then, I don’t want to live my present life in fear of what my future self will think of me. A fun thought cycle, right? The funny thing about growing up is that we are constantly changing. I’m not the same person I was two years, two months or even two days ago. The things I want to accomplish in my life today are not what I ever would have imagined for myself when I was at school, feeling pressured to choose a career I wanted for the rest of my life. How are you supposed to know what to do with your life when you haven’t lived it yet?

I might not know what I’m doing right now, but my gut tells me I’m headed in the right direction – that doesn’t mean I don’t cry every now and then about feeling lost or because I finished rewatching Gossip Girl for the tenth time. Feeling stuck between a young girl and a grown woman is such an interesting place to be, watching your school friends get married whilst others backpack around the world. It is too easy to compare your life to others who you feel are doing more than you at your age or younger, especially thanks to social media playing part as a highlight reel for our lives. The next time a Facebook friend posts a photo of them in front of a SOLD house sign or a well-manicured hand with a shiny engagement ring pops up, just remember we all move at our own pace – trust the path you are on, even if you can’t see what lies ahead right now.

At the end of the day, we get to decide what is in that pressure-filled parcel that arrives on our doorstep. The only person with high expectations of you is, in fact, you. Travel the world if you want to, or don’t. Build a house with your partner, or don’t. There are so many possibilities, and we have our entire lives to figure it out. For now, I suggest we take it day by day, saying yes to experiences and opportunities, making and losing friends as we navigate through life and ceaselessly discover who we are.

Good luck finding your own path, and remember there is no need to rush. What is meant for you will always arrive on time.

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