Ah, our twenties. The best years of our life they say, your ‘selfish years’. Although as time flies by, I’m finding myself questioning my level of selfishness. Am I taking full advantage of it? Can I be more selfish? Can I be working harder than I already am? Should I be making the effort to go out more, having weekly brunches and after work cocktails with friends? Should I be spending more time with family?
All these questions play on mind on a daily basis and are the premise of the inner battle I face. The battle being, doing all that I can and more to achieve my goals (no matter the sacrifices) versus living my youth to its full extent.
This fear of mine isn’t baseless, I always set myself high goals and often push myself physically and mentally to achieve them. However, this hasn’t gone unnoticed and I am constantly told to slow down and to well, actually live life. Whilst I understand the concern, I worry about reaching my mid-thirties and looking back on my twenties with deep regret that I didn’t work hard enough, so I keep going. But as life progresses, I’m also starting to worry that I’ll reach a point in life where I’ll look back on my twenties with great sadness that I didn’t experience all that I should have.
I’m 24 and very rigid by nature, so naturally I have very rigid plans, I have planned to accomplish key milestones by specific ages – so whilst my peers are maxing out the carefree existence of their twenties, I’m sat here juggling far too many projects and only exhausting myself more and more each day. I think that is the problem with rigid plans and not loosening up with life, you become unrealistic and want everything to happen now… right now.
Therein lies the problem and I know that I’m not alone on this one. We are part of a generation that has become accustomed to things being instant. Need a taxi? Get one instantly using an app. In a rush at the supermarket? Use the self-checkout. All these little aspects of life give the false identity of easiness. I see my peers saving and becoming homeowners, others travelling the world and then there are those that are quickly climbing the corporate ladder – that’s enough in itself to make me want to push myself to my absolute limit in order to attain the same achievements now. It doesn’t exactly make me happy (comparison is the thief of joy after all) and I tend to forget all the positive things that I’ve personally done or down-play them when they are relayed to me. This is why it’s difficult to fulfil the selfish years because I am too busy trying to force the future into now, so I’m not living in the moment.
Lately, I have come to the realisation that I am in a place in life where I am old enough to want it all, but too young to have it all, and it’s ok. Accepting this is making me slowly embrace the rest of my selfish years and the reckless abandon that comes with it. I am recognising that it doesn’t it have to be one or the other – I can have my fun, enjoy life yet still work hard and keep my ambitions.
There we have it – it’s great to be young and ambitious, but to want it all now can be damaging. It can cost you relationships, friendships and your health. It’s ok to take advantage of our twenties, to make mistakes and revel. This is the one time in life where being selfish is encouraged, nobody wants to look back and have no fond memories to reminisce on. I certainly don’t, so here’s hoping that I get the balance right.
Photography by Yossy.