It has come to my attention that the mid-twenties hold a plethora of difficult choices, unnerving decisions, and pressures that affect the mid-twenties generation.
In an age in which the R word is thrown around almost enthusiastically, it is often difficult to retain a positive outlook on the future. Those who find themselves in their mid-twenties are in fact a very special generation. Why? The post World War Two generation grew up with the fairly simplistic view that if you went to University you would "succeed". Alternatively if you worked hard, success would be had. It was a time of change, a new beginning following the atrocities that occurred during the Second World War. Our generation, however, faces a different reality. Despite going to the best of Universities, despite graduating with the best possible grades, the reality is that because of stiff competition, acquiring a job is far less straight forward than we were told growing up.
The world is connected via the Internet, employers can seek out candidates from all over the world, and so having an incredible level of experience, and an impressive CV is just not enough. The reality that we face in our mid-twenties can be discouraging, and lead us into a state of crisis. Our illusions of what was to happen when we "grew up" are shattered, and it can hit hard to realize that all the loans, time, and effort that has been placed into acquiring good grades, carrying out the right extra-curricular activities, seem to pale in comparison to what others have managed all over the Globe.
At times, it may be very isolating to find yourself in a situation in which your preconceptions of what you would be doing at this age, are not fulfilled. Many choose to handle their despair alone, ashamed to talk about it, under the false idea that others are managing just fine. After conversing with many in their mid-twenties, I find that there is a shared sense of disillusionment among us . That said, there is also a shared sense of dedication, direction, and clarity that comes with realizing that times are tough. New ideas are flourishing, and the opportunities are sprouting up like no other in our developing world.
I think, however, that it is important that the competitive job market is talked about. That the overly simplistic concept of "go to University and you will get a good job", should be questioned, and indeed criticised. This paradigm is outdated, and imposed by previous generations holding on to what has become an archaic notion. Yes, University can contribute to developing us as young individuals, exposing us to independent work, novel ways of thinking, and ease us into the "real" world. But, I cannot help but wonder how the safe environment provided at University truly does equip you with the knowledge and weapons needed to fight the battles we face on a daily basis? Sure you learn a lot about yourself, develop long lasting friendships, and even those who hate studying learn how to buckle down when they have to. When we pay so much money to attend an institution, I cannot help but query why they do not have a class, obligatory for all, in which you are exposed to the basics, how to write a CV, which jobs are out there, inspiring as opposed to frightening us about what is to come. I know that career centres are available, but to be honest, not many go, and when you do, you are given fifteen minutes to talk about what you want to do. What if you don't know? I remember going once to the one in Durham University, wearing my heart on my sleeve. I listed all the possible career paths I would love to do, and expressed my confusion. The answer I got? Go away, think more about it, and come back for another consultation in two weeks time. Okay, but the point was I was confused, and needed to talk about it, with someone who could provide advice, not tell me to go think about it more. That is what I had already been doing, and frankly had been going in circles in my head! I went back, still confused and was sent to several career fairs. As I studied Law, I approached several firms, all of which were big names, attractive as their salaries were enormous, but none of them inspired me. I went to talks at the Marriot, in which law firms would provide tons of free drinks, luring our young minds in by getting us tipsy, then selling themselves by showing us their incredible gym's on site, with swimming pools, great firm outings and trips. No details were given of the long hours required, from 7 to 11 many times. Nobody talked about how the big firms work you into the ground. We all knew. Some of the trainees would open up, and that was when the truth was spilled. It felt like a story out of a Roald Dahl book, the lawyers, rubbing their greasy hands together, staring at us through beady eyes would sell themselves to us, hoping we would hand over our souls and become their slaves. I am exaggerating of course, but in all honesty, that is how it felt. Admitting that I did not know if I wanted to be a lawyer was often met by a "but you study law. Why on earth would you want to be anything else but a lawyer? You will earn so much!" It made me embarrassed frankly, and feel slightly unappreciative, so I kept my mouth shut. How silly of me. Now I can think of plenty of questions I should have asked, and know and believe, "no question is ever a bad question".
We work so hard to create platforms for improved global communication, Improved International relations, a better world in short, but I think, and firmly believe that the resources available for young graduates are inadequate, and need updating.
For all those who feel alone in their struggle, know that you are not. This time is a tremendously exciting part of our lives. It is where we discover our interests, and dare to embark upon paths that we had never imagined were even there. Perhaps if we shed the pressures that society places on us, facing our life, our time on this earth without fear of being judged, we would be a far more happy and productive group of youngsters? My grandma used to say, "onwards and upwards, excelsior!"
Onwards! Without pressures of how much we should be earning, whether we should be settling down or not, whether we should know what we are going to do with the "rest of our lives". Life is brittle, and changes quickly. You cannot plan out your whole life. Take change by the hand and run. In short, enjoy the bloody process.
Have a great weekend, and enjoy Halloween! For all those in London, maybe I see you at the Clapham Grand on Saturday! Free entry before 11 if you wear a costume!