Lately it seems like there’s a lot of pressure on younger people to be doing so much stuff in a short space of time. They’re somehow meant to be uni-ing/travelling/working at an amazing job/doing an internship/maintaining a perfect social life all at once. Facebook and social media makes this so much worse- people only share the best bits of their lives, but if you look at it all added together on their profile it looks as if they’re always living the most perfect life, as if they’ve managed to get something amazing out of every second. It seems like 18-25 yr olds in particular are being judged if they’re not doing everything people think they should; it used to be that going to uni was sufficient for the judgey people to think you were doing enough with your life, and now Facebook has a whole category of people ready to judge you if you’re not planning to drop everything and travel to Australia to become a kangaroo whisperer RIGHT NOW- it’s not wanderlust, it’s wander-panic. I’ve heard quite a few people worrying that they should be doing this placement or that holiday, not because they want to, but because they think they should. If people want these things, and manage to achieve them, then I think that’s great, but it’s also ok if you’re not doing all this stuff. You should be travelling when you want to travel, because it’s somewhere you really want to go, you feel ready for it, you’ve been saving or looking forward to it, not because you’ve just seen someone you once went to school with post an album entitled something like ‘finding myself in Thailand’. People seem to be genuinely stressing out that they aren’t achieving all the stuff they think they’re meant to be achieving at this age, and it seems to me that it’s also important to remember you should only be doing that stuff when you want to. You have all your life to do everything you want to. A lot of my friends are travelling now and I don’t know if it’s because I’ve done one of those significant travelling adventures already, or just because I’m not suffering from wanderlust at this point in time, but I’m happy where I am right now. I know a lot of people who didn’t travel in their twenties, saved up for it and did it later in life and still had the best time ever doing it.
What this long-winded ramble is trying to say is that it’s ok if you’re not doing everything right now. You shouldn’t be doing stuff because everyone else is doing it, you should be doing it because you want to; it’s your life and not theirs after all! For instance, my course had an option to study abroad this year and while it was an amazing opportunity, I preferred to stay at my uni. I’d spent ages choosing this uni, I’d had the first year to settle in and had relaxed into it enough by the second year to enjoy it even more; I was loving my course and loving being at uni, and I don’t think I would have been this happy if I’d gone away. People seem almost scared to tell people if they’re not doing some life-altering thing over the summer- it’s ok if you’re not. If what you’re doing is making you happy then that’s the perfect thing for you. If you’re spending your days reading, writing, drawing and it’s making you happy then that’s great. If you go climb a mountain and it makes you happy that’s great. If you do nothing more than go outside and see something beautiful or the sun or the rain and it makes you happy then that’s great too. As long as it makes you happy, you’re living your life just the way you’re supposed to.
I’m sort of ashamed to admit this, but just to show things on Facebook shouldn’t be taken as 100% genuine: my sister (my own sister, the shame) once came downstairs the morning after a party to ask me to take a picture of her pretending to be hungover and asleep on the couch, so she could put it on Facebook with the caption ‘must have had a good time at the party because my sister found me like this’.