“It’s just the age. Everyone at your age feels the same way. Once you get older life will slowly settle in.”
These words ring heavy in my mind, weighing heavier with every second that passes. Words meant to be reassuring, cast severe doubt across my heart. The entirety of my emotions, spanning the vast territory of my mental health, summed up in a few sentences. Fleeting moments spent wondering, is that truly the problem and solution wrapped up in pretty punctuation around these sentences? The problem at hand in this case revolves around an immense sense of frustration, lack of motivation, and a general sense of being lost. Of course being young does play quite a large factor, the first steps into adulthood are always going to be quite alarming no matter the amount of preparation done ahead of time. That’s the general nature of life, however this isn’t a simple matter of young restlessness, nor does it make sense to generalize. Exactly who are those words truly supposed to convince? There are many practices in society that seem to have been accepted long ago and been passed down from generation to generation. As if looming depression and a lack of excitement or purpose are unwritten traditions meant to be passed along like valuable heirlooms.
Yet here we all are.
As society progresses, with it grows the global economy and the cost of living. Now cost of living doesn’t just refer to how much an apartment may cost in a nice neighborhood, but the cost of Living. Every activity that defined adulthood for the many generations before us continues to escalate in cost at a faster pace than inflation. A large sense of purpose in life has been interwoven with many of those activities as well, such as buying a house, traveling the world, having a large family, buying a car, etc. A lot of these practices have now become luxuries, some can even be included in the whole “back in my day” argument. But if the purpose of life, if the adventure of life is compacted into those luxuries, what about the current generation that can’t afford it? A giant group of kids grew up hearing what the best moments of life are going to be, or what the true “mark of adulthood” is going to be, yet they’ve all been taken away before it could even touch our hands.
Truly have taken the candy out of a baby’s hand.
If those are the marks for adulthood there should be no surprise as to why an entire generation is perpetually stuck in a young adult stage, in between a teenager and an adult. When you base entire life experiences in antiquated signs of success, in material signs of wealth, lives are stripped of self development, creativity, and adaptability. If the world is changing at such a rapid pace, why hasn’t the definition of success? The repercussions are then felt in political, social, and economic ways. It’s common to bring up “millennial culture” and the tendency to ridicule simple practices, however we all fail to ask what the serious purpose for that ridicule is. The average millennial’s childhood is full of stories and memories of traditional baby boomer signs of success. Technology and its rapid growth may have occurred during the young adult or teenage years, but that also means that the brain developed in both the traditional view of the past as well as the modern view of the present. Then begins the birth of a typical sense of disappointment and a lingering feeling of failure. Without the signs of success from childhood, adult life begins to feel incomplete or truly disappointing. Is a 9-5 desk job reporting to superiors in a corporate world truly the pinnacle of success of adulthood? For some, maybe so, for others the taste of a growing social renaissance interwoven with the digital era poses new opportunities.
The fruit is ripe to take, but fear holds us back.
A feeling of complacency is easy to grow in this environment. Dreams are shelved for the practical job in order to take care of responsibilities. “Everyone hates their job, but if you save up you can enjoy life later” has become the common mindset of the previous eras pouring into the millennial generation. Comedy routines, movies, literature are all saturated with stories of rebellious wild and passionate youth dulling their lives for a mature adult life. Now that retirement is a far off dream for much of the younger generations, is it worth it to spend a majority of the human life hating what you do every day? The sense of freedom and creativity that grows in childhood is killed as financial burdens and harsh realities pose as prominent threats. College is no longer the accepted ground for self discovery. Students are pushed to structure middle school and high school with advanced classes centering around the field they want to pursue, so that their college applications can be even more competitive. A child goes through a million different career and life goals, yet it’s become accepted practice to narrow down life’s purpose by 13. There’s no room for error or experimenting, especially if you happen to be an immigrant young adult.
College graduation is marked with a diploma, debt, and degrees of depression.
It is true that everyone in that age will be conflicted with what to do in life, and beginning the search for a self purpose. However the notion that any form of self doubt is only attributed to young age and life will settle after is preposterous. The questioning needs to be encouraged, for so many of young adults stepping into the “real adult world” this is the only time it’s been allowed to question. To fall into a responsible routine and have life be built around traditional symbols of success strip many of their goals and passions. There’s a difference between growing pains and the acceptance of complacency. A majority of the older generation accepts a life of misery/autopilot at the workplace and joy at home or with friends. Investing into hobbies is extremely valuable but at what point should you question if their advice isn’t misleading. Has life truly settled itself in as they grew up and followed the usual patterns of practical job, early marriage, and kids or did they stifle their own search for life’s purpose and succumb to a complacent life?
Life’s entire track has been planned out for a lot of young adults, as if we’ve been handed a checklist of accomplishments that need to be crossed for ultimate fulfillment. Not every person on the earth should have the same list, there’s no advancement in that. If you’re truly feeling lost and can’t shake the search for “it”, can’t shake the need to find what “it” even is, don’t give up. It’s ok to spend life searching, it’s OK to spend life needing constant change for the soul. There’s nothing broken or wrong if an individual list of accomplishments varies greatly from the older list of life goals. Routine is right for some, and not for others. No matter the age, if you truly feel like your journey is out there and meant to be explored, don’t be afraid of change. The time is now. The time is young. Apathy and a complacent life do not need to be the accepted norm or some valuable life lesson passed along. Goals aren’t always going to be easy, nor feasible at every second, but that’s because they’re meant to change. For those looking to find the meaning of “Living”, let it change and change often. Find your joy in the smallest of things, the largest of things, and every thing in between.