Being in your twenties can be pretty stressful. You've just graduated from university, you're finally earning some cash and you're out from under mum and dad's roof - in theory it should be the best time ever! But the harsh realities soon hit home, graduating from university throws you out of the safety of student loans and out into a harsh and competitive job market. You may have completed a degree, only to find you are not qualified for your dream job and to be plunged back into a world of coursework, exams and debts. You may be earning, but stuck in a job you can't stand, far from the dream career you envisioned and often far from the wage you had hoped for. And living out for the first time is a bloody shock to the system - suddenly realising the real cost of living and the sacrifices you have to make in order to gain that most basic freedom.
Times are definitely difficult for the average twenty-something. Despite all this freedom and the options that are available to us which might not have been for our grandparents, we often find that these have created more difficulty, stresses and worries for the future. We have so much more to think about than our grandparents with so much competition for the job and property markets. But it's time to stop all this - so many of us are worrying unnecessarily thanks to over-dramatic news stories that go on about the tiny job market, rising house prices, decreasing fertility in older women and the rest. Take a deep breath and check out this list of things I don't think any of us twenty-something's should be worrying about:
- Not having the right qualifications - changed what you want to do/didn't get the degree you should have? Found out you need further qualifications? Don't worry - time is on your side and many companies offer training programmes.
- Moving out - living with mum and dad isn't always the most fun, but it does give you the opportunity to live for free/cheaply and save lots of cash to make your next move, whether a deposit for a house or travelling spends.
- Buying a house - so many people seem to be sacrificing having a life, fun and all those things you should be doing at this age and instead are worrying and stressing over every last penny to save a house deposit. If this is what you really want, then great, but don't rush into it when you are unsure if it is what you want, or if it is with the right person.
- Being in the wrong career - so many people these days are ditching their career plans and starting afresh quite late in life. You have the benefit of youth, time and buckets of enthusiasm. There is always time to start again, change your plans, retrain or even try out some work experience to see if you like something.
- Finding the one - obviously there is never a right time for this, it depends on the individual, but so many seem so eager to meet the one and to settle down instead of having fun, of dating the 'wrong' type of boys and enjoying the single life with their girlfriends. There is nothing wrong with settling down young, but again, there is no rush.
- Having babies - as above, there is no right time for this and it depends on your own situation, but so many seem in a rush to have children young, perhaps due to over-hyped stories and comments about the rate of decreasing female fertility. Sadly, I have spoken to several who have regretted the things they never got the chance to do as a result of falling pregnant young. Realise that having children doesn't actually prevent you from doing anything and that doors are wide open, it just means you might have to step over a few hurdles to get through them. Just be sure it is what you want before committing to having a child.
- Running out of time - your twenties are the years when you are dedicated to building a career and many of us are balancing several different aspects of our lives - family, friends, a day job, career plans and work experience, blogging, volunteering, relationships, fun and all the rest - the list is endless and we are all so busy, it is easy to burn out if you are always feeling like you are against the clock. Be sure to make time for yourself.
- Missing opportunities - all of us are scared of missing out on opportunities and for many, your twenties are the first time you have been given serious choices to make between living in different places, between jobs, between partners - serious decisions that will change our lives and it is natural to worry whether you are making the right choice. Balance it all out and make an informed decision, then have no regrets.
- Losing your place on the ladder - taking time out is a natural thing to do at this age, you have the least responsibilities you will probably ever have again, you have no ties and often you are between jobs or still awaiting that dream job opportunity. So what better time to take a break from life? So many people go travelling and work abroad for a while, just to experience something outside the norm - it is a great opportunity. But so many are worried that by doing so, they could knock themselves out of the job market and miss out on that dream job. Well the job market will always be there, as will opportunities, but what will you regret more? Never travelling? Or staying in the same place in the hope of a job materialising?
- Regrets - so many people have said to me lately that they are scared of having regrets later in life and that this seriously affects their decisions. This seems so sad to me. We are supposed to be footloose and fancy free in our twenties - free to drop everything and pursue our dream, but this very freedom is holding us back. I say do what you want and have no regrets, but certainly don't have regrets before you have even done anything!
Put simply, don't let your worries hold you back. Get it all out of your system. Pack a bag and head off to Ibiza to party with your pals, don't be scared to dump a boyfriend who is holding you back, follow your nose and get that dream job, be cheeky and live at home for free, cut yourself off and travel the world. Just don't feel like you have to take everything on at once. I'm not saying your twenties are a disposable decade, not by a long shot, but they are the time when it's okay not to have it all locked down. Don't feel guilty or embarrassed because your life isn't perfect and you don't have everything locked down - the big secret? Nobody does! No matter how old they are!