Why are we racing to adulthood?

June has been a bit of a nothingness month for me aside from pretty major one event – I turned 25.

25.

Mid 20s. As close to 30 as 20. A quarter of a century. A fully-fledged adult. The age at which my parents got married. The age at which as a kid I thought I’d be married and own a home and have a kid.

It goes without saying that I have none of those things.

But I read a quote recently which sums up my attitude perfectly – I’m right on schedule with my life plan now I’ve pushed everything back eight years.

Because looking at it now 25 is far too young for all those things. I’m amazed my parents felt mature enough at 25 to get married. I can’t keep a plant alive, I still cry at adverts, I sometimes eat biscuits for dinner; I’ve no business making life shaping decisions. Owning a home, having children and getting married are all things that can wait because when else in my life am I going to get the chance to be accountable to no one but me?

This hit me while re-reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed and just provides further proof that I should adopt it as my own personal bible. Talking about her mother she says, ‘I never got to be in the driver’s seat of my own life… I’ve always been someone’s daughter or mother or wife. I’ve never just been me.’

That’s what I am right now. I’m just me. Tied to nothing. In practical terms I’d have to give one month’s notice at work and two months’ notice on my flat but after that I could just walk out of my life. I could splurge all my savings on an around the world trip. I could move to Australia or Canada or Europe (although not for long). I could go back to University. Or I could continue as I’m doing now and just live my life exactly as I’ve made it around me. Eating what I want for dinner, even if that is occasionally biscuits, spending my money on iced lattes, second hand books, fancy cheeses, fresh flowers, days out to castles, landmarks and zoos and one extravagant, exotic holiday a year. Yes I’ll have a savings account too, I am unendingly sensible after all, but this is the one time in my life when I’ll have financial security, disposable income and no one dependent on me; I finally get to treat myself without guilt, without debt.

And slowly but surely, through reading and working and day to day life experience, I’ll become a well-rounded woman. The kind of confident, self-assured woman 13 year old me could never have imagined. Ready to face the serious, big things when I need to.

These lost years of the mid to late 20s when you’ve been thrown out into the world to live independently are the best gift that the feminist cause has given us so far and we are not even close to appreciating it. Women just twenty years ago didn’t get this option. Lizzy Bennet, Helen Graham, Tess Durbyfield, Cassandra Mortmain, Esther Greenwood; none of them got this option and they all so desperately needed it.

So I’m going to stop worrying about getting ready for the future, racing through life to the next goal post, and use this time to become a really good version of myself.

What a difference a day makes

I wrote a post yesterday about how great my life is going. How much progress I’ve made in the past six months. How everything’s looking good for the future – ‘I’m on a rollercoaster that only goes up,’ as Augustus Waters said.
And then today I’ve got that knot in my stomach and nervous thumping of my heart that means somewhere in the back of my mind is a negative thought that I just can’t shake – in two months my contract is up and I go back to being unemployed.

I’d got overly confident, cocky even, that my contract would just be extended again. It had happened three times before; of course it was going to happen again. I was acting like I was a permanent member of staff; worrying with the others about what the situation would be next year, planning my holidays so that I wouldn’t go over my annual leave allowance, picturing myself there for years to come. I thought I was immune to cursing myself, that my old belief that ‘when things happen in one’s imaginings they never happen in one’s life’ was no longer true. I was an adult now and couldn’t hold to such silly, childish superstitions.

And yet in reality the prospect is looking a little bleak. A lot bleak. And it seems November is going to the month when I have to return to the hateful, soul-destroying task of applying for jobs. And being turned down. Even if I did get a job it wouldn’t be as good as this one. I wouldn’t like the people as much and I’d lose the friends I have made in the office, fade in their memories as just another temp who came and then went.

I might now have a greater skill set, more experience, more confidence even but in so many ways I’m no different to how I was in April. When I face a problem, a bump in the road, I’d rather wallow in it, let myself be defeated by it, than stand up and face it head on, with steely resolve and a plan of action. It’s certainly too early to be calling myself an adult, I’m still very much a work in progress.