“So No One Told You Life Was Gonna Be This Way”
And cue the clapping people, welcome to life in your 20’s and more specifically to your early 20’s. Hope you enjoyed that “Friends” innuendo but seriously, that one line kinda sums it up, and no I don’t mean it in a deep Shakespearean way nor do I mean it in a 16 year old deeply exaggerated tumblr quote way. I’m talking about a more practical and realistic way, and really being 20 is no walk in the park.
But let’s rewind a little, the whole adolescent thing wasn’t exactly the easiest walk in the park. Well unless you were the “cool” or “that cute guy I was telling you about”, or “that fine chick” with all the guys around the fingers or even the “spot light hogger” or “popular nerd”, being a teenager wasn’t easiest transition for many people, myself included. It was the start of many children developing their own sense of individuality, instead of them simply being their “parents’ children“. This involved doing a lot of new things, some of them admittedly not the smartest of things. Whether it was eating junk food without permission, putting “non-permanent pseudo” friends needs above our own or family needs or dating people against our parents’, friends and everyone’s better judgment (including our own), we made a lot of independent deicisions, mistakes and learned a lot of valuable lessons (some of us at least).
The point is a lot of us came out of our “shells” during the teen years, and our 20’s is more focused on how we carry this “shell” and maintain it (our “shell” referring to life, just btw).
Now, I’m sure a lot of you remember watching those comedy sitcoms, such as “Friends” and “How I Met Your Mother” , and they were great and made us laugh our guts out till we got six packs (I wish). But what these two series had in common besides the plot, character concept and design as well as pretty much everything else (I jest), was the fact that the series pretty much revolved around the lives of a group of young people and their journey through life.
A lot of people felt like they could relate to the up’s and down’s that the actors went through, whether they were currently experiencing it or having already experienced it. But it also painted a picture of what life should be like when you hit your 20’s. A lot of the actors on screen had their own apartments, their own jobs and love interests, whether they were permanent or not. What’s important is the sense of independence that is created. And for a lot of the younger viewers, it kinda created a mental picture of what life would be like or should be like. When we were younger, achieving that dream was always fine because we were always moving towards it, with the end being just out of sight, but now that some of us are here minus the dream, it does kinda suck
So, what is it specifically that differentiates 20 being the golden dream rather than a failed figment of our imagination.
- The Campus Life
A lot of us are still here or back here, either completing unfinished modules and qualifications or attempting to further our studies. For some people it’s kinda a challenge as they’ve chosen something for status or appearance or the most common reason obviously being money. So, this results in failure to complete the course in allotted time, changing of courses, dropping out, or choosing to work. Basically, it extends and prolongs our time as students, and keeps us from entering the real world. Sure, some of us may live in apartments, but it’s either paid for by our parents or funded by some scholarship.
But let’s say you are doing what you love or you’re good at what you do. A normal standard course takes between 3 – 4 years to achieve a national diploma or degree. So even if you begin studying at the normal age between 17 and 18, you’re only gonna finish once you’re 20 or older. And what if you want to study further or do an internship or simply just take a gap year as like a reward, than what ? You’re still not close enough to the mental picture that you’ve painted for yourself.
Whilst studying while working is a possible and realistic option, one that is actually employed by some of my friends, it’s not always the most attractive option. Most of the people I know who are juggling both, either resort to picking working or studying only, or will take on fewer subjects to complete while working at a firm or workplace that has nothing to do with their career path in life. So, while a part time job may offer the benefit of earning money and reflecting your sense of responsibility, it may not always give you the relevant experience that you need and the money you make, isn’t enough to support your needs on your own completely.
One could argue that running a lift club, joining uber, giving tuitions are some of the smarter ways of earning money with lesser hours, and while these methods do have their own merits, they most certainly have their respective downfalls. All in all, studying is pretty consuming whether you do it in the required time or take longer than expected to.
- The Work Life
So, some people who are not at campus anymore or did not choose to further their studies, or just simply wanted to get into the working environment fall into this category. People working at this age usually have their own reasons for working at such an early age, such as not being able to afford to study, wanting to be able to pay for their own studies, wanting to get some work experience to know what a certain job entails or simply wanting to get both money and experience from an early age.
I can relate to the part about wanting to get experience from an early age, as almost every job offer lists a minimum of 5 years working experience as a requirement. That itself is quite ironic and amusing itself, as the actual course that you study is usually shorter than 5 years, so how you’re supposed to have experience beyond 5 years is far beyond my mortal comprehension. I can also understand the part about wanting to know more about a job before obtaining a qualification and then realizing that you hate the job or it doesn’t pay what you expected.
While working from an early age may seem to be a prospective opportunity, there are some downfalls. There have been several instances where people in the work environment have been replaced by or passed up for a promotion by someone relatively new or inexperienced simply because the person replacing them possesses some kind of qualification. In my undergrad years, there were people aged 25 and over in my class doing the course for the first time simply because they would be offered more pay and a better position, even know they knew the trade like the back of their hand.
Back in the day working at a younger age was encouraged, and the older people who are retired or nearing the end of their working career will tell you that they obtained a job with the minimum or no qualification at all. Of course, as time went by, some of them had to obtain some kind of qualification to occupy a more recognized position. However, as most of you are aware, a qualification is a standard requirement to get a decent job and in 9 out of 10 cases, and without one, you won’t be accepted into those big firms you are dying to get into.
Working from a young age in a full time position isn’t a bad option, but the pay isn’t all that great. You usually have to work for a great deal of hours while earning less than what you actually worked for (although that could be said for every job). It is only after you’ve climbed up several rungs on the ladder, do you actually begin to earning something worthwhile.
The working part is also a new experience for a lot of young adults, and introduces a new mindset of thinking that needs to be adopted. Such as if you “F#$% up” badly, there’s no second chance or failing like in campus, nope your ass is fired. This is terrifying and scary thought, especially for your first job and performance scores will always haunt you.
Ahh, I love the saying “Keep your friends close, your enemies closer and God (LSK) the closest“. I added that last part in about God, not sure if that quote had that line before. But basically as I’ve said before in a previous blog, we live in a world full of mistrust and deceit, so it’s quite understandable as to how friendships can fall apart easily or result in backstabbing or be torn apart by distance. There’s also the possibility of the friendship being a pretense or non-existant in the first place, and I know that there are many of you reading this to know that it’s definitely true.
The high school friends don’t usually last either. We spend 3 – 5 years with people during the critical parts of their growth. This amount of time as well as the trust and bonds make it pretty easy to understand why we feel so close to people during our high school years. We don’t just see them at school, but at tuitions, extracurricular activities or simply live near them. Couple this frequent constant contact with our innocence (some of us at least) and gullibility (all of us) and you will be rewarded a strong friendship. But after it’s all said and done, after the big and bad scary matric is over, everyone goes their separate ways. Despite the memes, old class photos and nostalgia, distance kicks in and kinda reduces everything to nothing or particular feeling of emptiness and nothingness.
As the song by Nelly Furtado goes, “Flames to dust, lovers to friends, why do all good things come to an end ?” . Sounds like a good title for my next blog title, don’t you think ? 😉
By the time we get to campus, we’re just getting used to the fact that it’s never gonna be the same again. Our school friends have moved on and made their own new friends and associate with different cliques. And we on our own have unconsciously begun to do the same thing. Not all of us are fortunate to be like Ted Mosbey from How I Met Your Mother and have a best friend from both high school and campus or Rachel Green from Friends and reconnect with an old high school friend (even if it initially was for the wrong reasons). We go from being first class comedians for over 8 hours straight in a day to feeling awkward to greet someone with a bleak “hey” for just 5 seconds with downcast glance, all with the passing of just once year.
How many times have we tried to make plans with old or ex high school friends to put it more bluntly, and have it blow up in our faces ? How many times have you been cancelled on by these people, only to realize that they didn’t pitch up because they were hanging out with their new buds ? The best is when they lie and you see them live in action hanging out with another group of people, even though they cancelled on you because they had that thing to do or that family function. Growing apart or growing distant is acceptable, but growing to be dishonest is questionable.
Campus friends are commonly seen as temporary friends, as most come and go, figuratively and literally. They’re just there to have a good time and to enjoy in the moment. Also, a lot of people at this point have learned not to get attached and to trust, or are one of the few that have solid forged friendships.
- The Love Life
I do quite enjoy that quote, “Out of sight, out of mind”. As you may have read in blog about relationships, a lot of the current ones are doomed to fail, and it’s not because I say so, rather because of how everyone behaves and treats relationships.
I saved this one for last, as they say “best for last”. Due to lifestyle and career paths such as sea based maritime, piloting, international hostess, 24 hr on call engineer etc, it leads to people travelling a lot or not being available to the beck and call of their partner 24/7. This could lead to a international chef returning home, only to find someone else dining on his wife’s sushi, or a female pilot returning home to find her man unstrapping someone else’s straps.
Yes ladies and gentlemen, distance has a way of creeping into relationships that have been going on for more than 5 years even and even into marriages. It may be a bit presumptuous to assume that you will most likely not be married by twenty but you would be mistaken. Certain ethnic groups and cultures believe that women should marry as soon as their formal education is completed in order to procreate and start a family. While some of you may be in my boat, where we are no where near ready for even the idea of marriage, some of my friends are have married or are engaged by the age of 20.
With regards to the ethnic issue, I know a girl who is 21 and is engaged to a boy who is 17, and the marriage will take place soon after he matriculates. While you may think I’m drawing attention to the weird discrepancies in their ages, as well as the girl being older, I’m not. Shortly after the agreement was made, the girl went from a blackberry curve to an I-phone 7, from a broken down 1980 something Ford to an M3 series BMW and from living with distant family in the flats to her own posh apartment. I mean it’s quite apparent she’s marrying for love, I mean whether it’s love for the guy or money, who knows ? (She hasn’t even known him for a year, while still dating other guys…)
While on the other hand there are couples who are dating from high school, all the way from grade 8 or even younger. These couples together with those “We were neighbors” and “We grew up playing in the sandbox” couples, they normally tie the knot after they have graduated from campus or sometimes even school. While some of these relationships are slightly just over 3 years, these couples usually know everything about each other including past lovers, mistakes and experiences.
Some sitcoms will show couples being married in their early 20’s while some series may show couples being married towards their later 20’s approaching 30, and you may say that this in keeping with the current marriage age groups. But what does differ is life after the wedding. What happens after you say yes to the dress ? In reality, most of these married couples are still staying with their parents or in laws, which differs from the mental image where you live with your spouse in your own apartment, rather than with your parents.
But it’s not just the living arrangements is it ? A lot of couples wanna travel together and experience new things together. But here’s the catch, a lot of them are still adjusting to married life with increased expenses and so forth, so travelling together on a vacation is usually outta the question. Travelling will most likely happen with work associates rather than your spouses in the early 20’s marriages.
But hey, maybe I’m just being caught up with marriages that take place between people in their early 20’s, so what about people in romantic relationships, but not married ?
If you’re familiar with the term “inertia”, it simply means to remain in motion, unless displaced by a force. So it seems like everyone around you is entering a relationship, and that relationship seems to be doing really well. Everyone is in a relationship, well everyone except you that is. If you’re single in your early 20’s, 6 out of 10 times, you’ve been single for a while. Maybe you’re just out of luck or maybe like me you just excel at having “single inertia”. And couples do their best to let you know that they’re in a relationship and couldn’t be happier (Thanks a lot social media). I mean some people believe in casual hook ups or uhm, how to aptly put it, oh yes, they “make love in the club”. I don’t have any personal issues with that, I just don’t practice either myself.
So while everyone is in relationships and you’re just sitting there hugging a tree, looking at single memes on incognito mode on 9 gag and social media, time just seems to pass you by. I mean some people will tell you to relax and that you have plenty of time, but trust me time flies when you’re alive. For example, I could have sworn that just yesterday, I was 16 years old back in high school and someone was telling me I have plenty of time. Well guess what, fast forward 5 years later and I’m still single. I mean I’ve had relationships but I’m sure you get the picture. I mean there are some people including myself who want to know someone for at least like four years or more, before we even consider engagement. We also don’t wanna be those parents, who’s kids are 12 and they’re like 52.
Which brings me to the other set of 20 year olds who are just so focused on partying. I really don’t understand how that works. These kinds of people are just out in the club every weekend or drinking like from Friday night till Monday morning. They’re not interested in anything except partying and having a good time. These people usually end up to be lifetime bachelors or cougars with regrets later on in life. If these people do settle down, it’s usually in their early and 30’s, which is kinda a suitable age, but these people usually have a rich chalk full history and a lot of baggage, trust me, its like piles and you have to have a strong stomach and heart to handle and trust them, after they’ve experienced and all they’ve done.
With the increase in the shift towards career and ambition (which is good), causes a decrease in relationships during these times. It means that a relationship that has been firmly established before your early 20’s would more likely last, as a sense of understanding would already have been established. If the relationship is established after the career stuff, well you could lose your soul mates and be filled with regrets, but who knows ? Some people still believe in love and being together but don’t feel that marriage is necessary. This is when people have life partners, they’re usually in their early 40’s.
So, it’s clear that life in your 20’s is way more mixed up and complicated than your teens, there’s a lot of self responsibility and independence, but hey, it can’t be as hard as parenthood right ? The theme of this blog was more mixed up to suit the title, so I hope you enjoyed that. Ciau.