#REPLYALL: Expectation Vs Reality In Your Twenties

career

BETHAN

I thought that most people have their careers and lives sorted by their early 20s when I was at school!!

EDI

I think most people thought that – even though my mum was a super realist and was like “I didn’t have a real job till I was 26,” I still wanted (and want) to achieve so much by the time I’m 25.

I definitely thought I was going to be a lawyer, but I think I always knew it wasn’t for me. My mum just wanted me to do it, and I thought I should because then I’d be earning mega bucks. But I never actually wanted to,
so when I gave up on it, it was kind of like “Well…that’s that. What’s next?” And I have had to reinvent the dream from the age of 21.

SOPHIE

For mesophie, from sixth form to probably the last year of uni, I swapped from career idea to career idea constantly. I started off wanting to go into interpreting/translating (LOL) and then that completely changed into a more humanitarian route. But whatever the career, I did assume that by 24 I would be at
least on the lowest rung of my career ladder, ready to start climbing. I never expected to be basically 18 again and clueless.

BETHAN

I always found it very difficult to see myself in a career. I’ve never had a clear idea so have tried different things and my A level/degree choice was more based on interest. I had hoped that I would be in a more comfortable position by this point though as I feel like I may end up swapping careers in my late twenties which worries me a lot.

EDI

But don’t you feel that’s a bit more normal now? To career hop? I’ve found that amongst our age group it’s becoming more and more common.

SOPHIE

I think it’s definitely because I’ve fluctuated and still am fluctuating, that there’s been little continuity for me so far. I think that’s true Edi, people chop and change a lot more than say our parents’ generation.

EDI

Yeah, I haven’t actually landed on a ‘career’ path yet. I’m leaning towards academia, but I also want to start a business. But then I might not, or I might not want to do it forever and then just sell it. I see myself working mainly for myself simply because whenever I work for someone else I feel completely under-utilised/valued.

BETHAN

Yes I definitely feel it is normal and I am more on a career path than some of my friends but I worry I will keep hopping and never find what I’m hoping for!

My internal struggle right now is that I really want to just say fuck it, pack my bags and go travelling for a couple of years but then I doubt how I can fund that, and what that will do to any future career prospects.

EDI

YES BETHAN! I literally just want to sit here and video game and then swan off somewhere. Can I just get a property portfolio and call it a day please?

PRI:

Maybe because, actually definitely because, I graduated 1 or 2 years after a lot of my close friends, I feel a lot more pressure to settle down into a career or at least pick something and start working my way up in that specific field. Regardless of the fact that that way of thinking is probably outdated for this generation, I’m constantly caught between wanting to slay at one thing and then the complete opposite – moving around and having different experiences and stories to tell when I’m a Grandma.

I also have huge commitment phobia. Just signing a phone contract or committing to a monthly train ticket panics me so the thought of staying with one company for a long time like my dad has…freaks me out a little.

EDI

I don’t think this is a feeling unique to our generation though. I think people were just forced to settle down earlier, especially if you weren’t middle class and you didn’t have early financial independence. My dad had to buy a house at 19 because his parents essentially kicked him out – I could be living in my parent’s house till I’m 27!

He didn’t get a chance to go to uni or really live outside of his 9-5 because he had a mortage…I think we’re just afraid of that, and we have a bit more freedom

BETHAN

I feel fulfilled in the work I do but entirely undervalued in the system that I am working in. Plus I do not think it is a sustainable lifestyle I can maintain due to long working hours, exhaustion, and low pay prospects in London which is becoming more expensive by the second; I hate that I will never be able to afford to buy a house in or even close to the area in which I grew up.

EDI

Absolutely feel you on that one, religiously searching for affordable living outside of london on the daily.

Also, I think that feeling undervalued is something that our generation is quicker/easier to express. It’s a common problem I hear a lot, something like a third of young people/graduates feel undervalued at work.

bethanEVE

Going back to what Sophie said about swapping from career idea to career idea constantly between sixth form and uni – I think this relates 100% to ‘career hopping’, which seems a nice way of saying wandering aimlessly through the job market. Maybe not aimlessly but certainly wandering and feeling a bit lost.

The difference with our generation is the variety of jobs available like now ‘social media’ is a highly valued skill which just didn’t exist 20, even 10 years ago.

BETHAN

I would be happy to do that if I wasn’t so petrified of not being able to afford to get by and hope to have a family in the future

EDI

Absolutely, there are a billion jobs in marketing, and you no longer need ‘specific’ training to do them. Most of them only require a degree. But I wasn’t actually aware about many of these career possibilities until I graduated!

EVE

Also Bethan you talked about choosing a degree based on interest which I think might be relatively new too – people before were choosing what was practical and while it’s wonderful have a degree under your belt that you enjoyed, I personally feel my degree isn’t that ‘practical’.

SOPHIE

I just feel like my mind is being pulled in a thousand directions – pick a career, but it has to be well paid but it has to help people and it has to be cool with me taking off a ton of time so I can go to Nicaragua or Japan or something whenever I want for an undisclosed amount of time.

And also, having an degree that isn’t useful and just being me, I have no idea what I’m good at and what my ‘career’ might be. But time flies so quickly that I need to answer these questions NOW or maybe 2 years ago

EVE

I reeaallllly think the answer is to not stress and actually just apply for a million jobs and you’ll find what you’re good at.

No one can tell you and sometimes you don’t even know you have a skill until you need to use it and tadah, your talent emerges! or perhaps its something you’re able to form through trial and error.

SERRENA

I will recommend reading Meg Jay’s book or watch her ted talk: 

http://www.ted.com/talks/meg_jay_why_30_is_not_the_new_20?language=en

EDI

Now that you’re older, where do you want to be in the next 2 years in terms of your career?

BETHAN

This is what petrifies me… in 2 years I will be turning 27 so I hope something will be very sorted!

EVE

In the next two years I want to be in a job I enjoy, that challenges me, and is related to either one of my passions – food and Latin America. Failing that, something in a field that I enjoy and perhaps don’t know exists yet!

EDI

Once I’ve finished my Master’s, I’d like to have decided whether I’m going to be a solid academic or fluctuate between random business ideas and real life. I’d be happy with either.

SOPHIE

In 2 years, I would like to have chosen a career at least, to start working on. I DONT KNOW, I’M GETTING SO STRESSED OUT.

romance

PRI:

My expectation was that I would be in a long term relationship around this age – I assumed I would fall in love with someone I had been friends with for years first, date for ages etc. That is all literally just based on the fact that my mum was married at 26. But now in reality, I’m very single. But I don’t feel bad about it at all, I don’t feel like I’m missing out or
in deficit so isn’t a negative thing for me.

The only thing I would say stresses me out is thinking that I haven’t dated enough. At the same time I’m fully aware that there is no right answer. Some people have never dated because they marry the person behind door #1.

EVE

Dude, what is ‘dated enough’? How does one know if they have sufficiently done that? Fucking hell it’s like a job application. You can’t attend this date because you don’t have enough experience in the fieldeve

EDI

Well if you date online, it pretty much is an application. Do you fulfill the job description? What skills do you have that match the criteria? I genuinely salute anyone who dates – it sounds terrible and like something I would dislike immensely. 

SERRENA

I didn’t really have any expectations either. I mean, I guess I was (at least I thought I was) a bit of an ugly duckling at school. I mean, I wasn’t blonde and perky with big boobs.

BETHAN

I guess I am where I thought I would be …but with someone different to whom I thought I would be with!

I broke up with my long term boyfriend from school days about 18 months ago and thought I would be single for a couple of years. Instead I was knocked sideways by someone I met at work and now I am living with them and more happy than I have ever been which has taught me how much can change in a year!

EVE

But like, lets be romantic here. You meet the right guy – it’s about him, not about anyone else who has come before.

Also guys, we’re all straight so this is really one sided.

SERRENA

My lesbian friend (that sounds weird. I don’t call her that) uses online dating to find other lesbians because she finds it hard to approach people otherwise, not knowing if they are gay or straight.

EDI

My gay friends seem to have the same experiences as my straight friends – I think it’s more a London thing than actual dating in the modern world. (ALTHOUGH  – everyone watch married at first sight, it’s v interesting.)

Does anyone panic about not being in the right place by….lets say 30?  Like, if there’s no man/ring/baby by what age? Or are you just like “meh.”

BETHAN

Yes biological clock and fertility freaks me out slightly. To put it simply, I always grew up thinking I could have it all as I have such a positive role model. My mum has a successful career, family, social life, and I wonder sometimes if I am living in a dream world.

SOPHIE

I personally never had any expectations, I’ve always kinda assumed I’d always be single until I mad panicked at 35 and adopted a random baby. I just don’t think you can have expectations about this kind of thing because it’s so unpredictable.

EVE

My sister and her boyfriend met on OkCupid and have been together for 3 years and just bought a flat. My auntie and her boyfriend have been together 5 years and met on match.com

Also I met my colombian ex on tinder and met a really nice guy on OkCupid in the UK. I’ll just be the poster girl for online dating.

EDI

Yeah it’s all chance. Unless you have an arranged marriage…. but then as Charlotte in Pride and Prejudice puts it, “Love in a marriage is entirely a matter of chance.”

Sophie

You could marry at 20, you could die at 20, who knows, you have to just go with the flow. I thought I’d be single at 24 and I am. I have no expectations about the next 2 years.

EDI

For me, my mum was single with a 2 year old born out of wedlock at 29 when she met my dad. I’m cool. It’ll happen if you’re open to it I guess. Whatever ‘it’ is that you want.

EVE

I met a guy I really liked two years ago in BA, I was devastated when I left, and out of the blue I’ve ended up here again with him. It just goes to show you never know what can happen and if something’s good, somehow it hangs around. I’m very soppy but that’s my thoughts! You can’t set limits or expectations when it comes to love and relationships.

friends

SOPHIE

I think my super strong friendships from high school that I thought would be strong forever have changed. They haven’t become worse necessarily but we’ve all changed so much. We’re just different people with different ideas and live so far apart

EVE

I think friend ‘groups’ when were younger seemed much more important, like the whole idea of having a girly clique. In reality I believe that having one strong group is wonderful but actually its also awesome to have loads of random people dotted around.

BETHAN

I’m surprised/disappointed about how much less time I am able to invest in friendships in the last year but it has shown me who my true strong friends are which is different to how I had imagined. As you said Eve the clique just isn’t as important and I value the true connections with individuals more now.

SERRENA

I still have my core school friends who I love to death. We are quite different in some ways but very similar in other ways.

EDI

I agree with the group thing. I’m much more of an individual now, and am very #nonewfriends. I only see/speak to people I actually have an interest in seeing/speaking too. I think that’s why Priya and I are a lot closer than we used to be. Also, the quality of many of my long-term relationships has improved or people have been weeded out haha.

PRI:

I have fewer friends because I don’t value racking up loads of acquaintances anymore. The more you go though experiences that are less than pretty, the more you realize quality > quantity. I have less people around me (also from moving around so much) but the ones that are; those relationships have gotten so much stronger.

EVE

There’s such a beauty in growing older and realising how the important special people stick around, no matter about distance or time.

But no new friends…I disagree. I think say that because I’m not sure I want to live in my home town and have the idea of moving away again where if you do the #nonewfriends thing, you are literally going to be Billy no mates. I actually met some of my closet friends just two years ago and I know they will be friends for life.

EDI

If we’re not natural friends or don’t click, it’s not first year of university so I’m not going to make the effort to hang just because that’s where the people are. I will usually pick one person, and bond, because we have a bond. If not, there’s always 19th century literature lol.

PRI:

I don’t value knowing a lot of people for the sake of a few good times, now I just look for that real connection. I’ve learned recently that it always comes back to values.

BETHAN

I agree Priya that makes the connections so much stronger.

SOPHIE

I think I’ve realised who you can actually count on, not just for contact but I’ve realised different people are good for different things. Some friends I can turn to for emotional turmoil and some are more for when you want to laugh and drink and just be carefree.

EDI

Indeed – I think we all agree. We’re no longer in school, and as you mature so does the way you make and keep friends and relationships. It’s no longer as flippant or just for the sake of it. But there’s still the opportunity to make some really good friends.

EVE

But you lose nothing by hanging out with people you maybe aren’t maaaad about. Like it’s all interesting no? I was recently travelling alone and met a ton of people. I probably reaalllllly liked only about half but its a lot of fun to hang around with new people just to learn shit and share a good time.

EDI

Ah, I think that’s down to personality really. I don’t hang out with people I don’t connect with just to be hanging out with someone. I’d rather do things alone, but that’s because I’m introverted like that!

BETHAN

I completely agree I love talking to new people from different walks of life you learn so much.

SOPHIE

I’ve also realised that sometimes people are temporary. I’m just agreeing with Eve here.

Some people are your best friend for like 9 months and that’s that, I learnt that living abroad. Like this year I knew a girl for about 2 months before she went to America and I literally fell in love with her but it was over so quickly. I think there’s a lot to be said for meeting people for short amounts of time, like when travelling

PRI:

Yes Sophie! Sorry to sound like a hallmark card but people that come into your life for a chapter and it’s like WHAT DID I EVER DO WITHOUT YOU and then you realize it’s literally just crossing paths sometimes while your lives are in the same place.

EDI

I’m open to meeting people, but I just don’t try and force the bonding process if that makes sense? I’m not saying I don’t talk to anyone ever, just that if I meet people and I don’t feel it, I don’t necessarily make the effort to do it again. Obviously if we bond immediately, then I do.

SOPHIE

I think it’s definitely possible to become very close very quickly. Not to sound ridiculous but sometimes you’re just kindred spirits.

And not to directly contradict Edi but sometimes you meet someone and hit it off straight away and sometimes it takes one or two times or more. Again with this girl, I’d see her at work and we’d politely chat and then when we actually worked together on something, I was head over heels.

twenties


priya
SOPHIE

I think generally, it’s rare for expectations to match up because not only is life inherently unpredictable but your 20s is probably when you change the most so surely the expectations change? I think I’m completely different to when I was 18 to how I am now.

EVE

You change faster than your expectations so therefore your expectations never match up to what you thought! Fuck expectations? Isn’t it more fun anyway to end up somewhere unexpected than where you’d imagined all along.

EDI

I don’t think the reality matches the expectation, but not in a negative way. I think I went down a different path in pretty much every aspect, but am not unhappy with the way it’s turned out so far!

BETHAN

Combination of Eve and Edi’s points – experiences affect your expectations on a daily basis so they are always changing. I am happy with where I am right now and excited to see how it all turns out!

PRI:

So this is where I’m at with it all. I feel like it’s pretty commonly known and accepted that you’re teenage years are going to be angsty and a bumpy ride to say the least just as much as they’re going to be wild and free and fun blah blah blah. But with our twenties…I feel like it’s basically the second coming of puberty.

The expectation was that it was going to like some badass music video, starring me as a grown woman. I’m not sure who is responsible for selling me that warped dream because the reality is that it feels like my music video is still buffering. By that I mean, I’m still excited to see what plays out but it’s not as smooth sailing or loading as quickly as I thought it would be.

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One thought on “#REPLYALL: Expectation Vs Reality In Your Twenties

  1. First thank you to Edi for using me as her example. Not sure that I’m a good role model, but what I will say is that we make our own path in our own time. Take a risk on love; who knows. As for careers, I studied languages because I wanted to be an international journalist, then my Dad died and my life changed. I came to England, became a Civil Servant and had a baby. The rest is history. I’m 53 and studying to become a counsellor when I retire in 12 years time. So who knows.

    I read this before I read your blog. It’s an interview in the Guardian with Myra Seal and I thought it is very relevant to your discussion here (I paraphrase) “In my 21st, I thought: ‘Maybe I could win an Oscar.’ In my 30th I thought ‘I could probably win a Bafta, I think, if I really work hard and get the right role’ Then in my 40s I thought ‘ I’d really like that job’ Your boundaries change. Everyone, when they’re young, wants the world and thinks they’ll get the world.”

    Don’t despair, this is life. Just try to make it YOUR life, whatever path you take.

    Odiri

    Like

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