I am, by all accounts, a successful young adult.
I went to a good high school, got into an excellent college, graduated in four years, and found a job in my field (creative writing) within two months of leaving school. After doing that job for awhile, I left of my own volition to get a better one, and found it.
So here I am. 23 years old, wonderful job, brand new car, generally successful and exceptionally lucky. But you see, sometimes I get scared that I’ve settled already into my entire life.
I read an article today called “A Struggle of Not Struggling”, by a girl who’s about my age, and who feels pretty much the way I do. You can read it here.
The thing about our generation is that we’ve been trained to succeed in a very tense environment. I was a sophomore in college when the recession hit. When suddenly the possibility of a graduate actually getting a job in their field became a dream, not a reality. So I worked hard, like everyone did. There were internships and awards and leadership roles and all of that good stuff. And I graduated and got my job. Just like Taylor, the author of the article. Just like a lot of other lucky graduates. But that was also the only real option ever presented to us. There wasn’t time or money for dreaming of a summer in Paris or the chance to explore the world before finding our place in it. The economy is tough, if you get a job you take it. And suddenly you find yourself taking all of the things that come with that job, and before you know it you’ve put down roots where you never even really intended to grow. Honestly, I’m just scared that I won’t notice how deep the roots are until I try to move them.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I ADORE my job, and the people I work with. It’s ridiculously fun work, and I know how lucky I am. I wake up most days very happy to be me, because I get to do something I love. But I also know that the older I get, the more responsibilities I’ll have. And suddenly dreams begin to slip away. Quietly, and without notice, while we’re busy building lives that are happening so fast there isn’t time to figure out if it’s what you really want or not. And then one day you realize that it’s impractical to run off to Paris for awhile, or go to graduate school someplace far away, or give a new career path a shot. Your roots have already dug in too deep, and you didn’t even notice it because you were busy succeeding. And you’re happy, yes. But you wonder what would have happened if you’d taken a few more chances. Planned a little less, and let the wind blow you somewhere else for awhile.
I think it must be difficult to be truly happy when you find yourself asking “what if?” and dreaming of the answer. Even if you are one of the lucky ones.