Why do we start to hate our birthdays in our late 20s? The answer might seem obvious. We're not satisfied with we're careers, we still haven't found the love of our life, we haven't lost those few extra pounds we swore would be gone by now... But has it always been that way? Did our parents feel an impending sense of doom come their 27th birthday?
Most people feel a lot of pressure to make money. At least enough to buy a house, pay the bills, and support a family. Enough to be "comfortable." But in 2014 it seems like there's more pressure to have even more than that. As millennials, we were brought up with the parenting technique that encouraged us we could do anything. No, seriously. Many of us were instilled with the idea that we can and should do absolutely anything our heart desires.
But those dreams we wrote about in our journals when we were twelve about wanting to be famous still haven't quite come to fruition, and now that we're nearing thirty they have more of a nagging effect than an endearing one. Even with all of the emphasis on career success for both men and women, it doesn't negate the pressure to couple up as quickly as possible and start a family. We're suppose to do both. And if you're not in a happy relationship by the time you reach your late 20s? Well you better start freezing your eggs now because they're not getting any younger and neither are you!
I was recently reminded of how much these things are constantly on the mind's of my peers when I saw this video from School of Life. The first thing we ask people when we meet them is "what do you do?" and based on how well their answer meets our idea of success we choose to continue getting to know them or make an excuse to walk away. We're taught that we can be anything we want to be, but what happens when we fail at that? We put more value on how much someone has achieved rather than who they are as a person.
Baby boomers feel free to leave your comments below, but I think that present day twenty-somethings face a lot more pressure than generations before us. Whether its our parents' fault, society's, or our own, many of us really do want to have it all. We want the fulfillment of creative expression, professional success, the freedom to travel, not to mention athletic goals that sometimes exceed walking on the treadmill for 20 minutes while reading the newest People. Add finding a partner, cultivating a loving relationship with said partner, committing to one another (whether that be with or without marriage), and finding time to conceive and then raise children, and you've got a hell of a lot on your to-do list.
When you get yet another year older, as most of us tend to do every 365 days, how do you ignore that voice in your head saying the clock's ticking? You better hurry up and "get it all" before time runs out! But then if we do manage to have it all one day, will we even recognize it? And if we come to the realization that we're really where we want to be in life, how do we shake the anxiety that it will all be taken away?
I've struggled with this idea a lot in recent years. How can you be proud of your achievements and grateful for your good fortune without constantly worrying it will all go away? I honestly don't know what the solution is, but I do know what makes it a bit easier to deal with. Taking time everyday to think about what and who you have in your life, and truly appreciating it can have a genuinely calming effect. I'm usually not someone who gets overly inspired by quotes, but I heard one recently that I really connected with. "If we magnified our success as much as we magnify our disappointments we'd all be much happier," -- Abraham Lincoln.
Well said, Abe.