Me, most of the time: I am 25. I rent a lovely flat in London with my long-term boyfriend. I have a steady job. Marriage no longer terrifies me. Even pregnancy no longer terrifies me. I have savings. I know who my friends are. I know my own tastes. I can afford nice things. I am healthy. I keep up with worldly and political affairs. I know the importance of a good night’s sleep. I have experienced other cultures. I am a grown up.
Me, the rest of the time: I am 25. I can’t afford to buy a flat in London. Other people in my year are more successful than me. People getting married and having babies weird me out slightly. I want to blow all my savings on travelling the world. I have known illness and death. I am never satisfied with what I have. I party until 5am most weekends and still can’t handle my drink. The thought of festivals keeps me going all throughout the Winter. Everything I see on the news terrifies me. I feel like a very small part in a very big game.
Being 25 is, quite simply, hard work. We are a schizophrenic bunch. We are confused. Some of us have welcomed maturity and responsibility with open arms and some of us have clung desperately onto youth. Us 25-year-olds are all extremely different from each other, and yet we all feel pretty much the same, whether we’re waiters in the local pub or traders in the big city. You’ve seen the numerous articles going around about ‘the quarter-life crisis’– they’ve got a valid point. All through school, we’re programmed to compare ourselves to the average expectation. In year 6, you’re supposed to be aiming for a level 4 in your SATS, at GCSE, it’s a grade C. You know where you stand, you can measure success. After school, success becomes less tangible. Suddenly the most successful person is the happiest person we know. Don’t we all want to be that guy? We believe that by the second half of our 20s we will have it all sussed out. A lot of us mistake that person for the richest person, or the person who has found ‘the one’. A lot of us mistake that person for the person with the most followers, or the most likes. To be followed and liked makes you a kind of leader, and to lead, is an easy measure of success – something we’re all craving.
The crux of the matter is; not only have we discovered that, as adults, we are all very different from each other, but we also all lead two very different lives ourselves: one real one and one virtual one. In our virtual lives, we are all happy, and this is the version most of us use as a comparison. The only problem is; we don’t compare other people’s virtual lives to our own virtual lives – we stupidly compare them to our REAL lives.
In my virtual life, Joe and I never argue, my skin and hair are always flawless, I have the perfect family and I am, quite simply, having the time of my life, all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I love my life and all the people in it, but my life, like everyone’s, is flawed. We should be taking comfort and feeling inspired by the real lives of the people we know, not the photographically enhanced ones. I wonder how many of us scroll through Instagram only to feel less attractive or less cool afterwards. We post a quick selfie to remedy the feeling and the cycle continues.
I’m not saying we should all shun social media, but simply, we should take it with a pinch of salt. People are entitled to carve out a version of themselves, or share opinions in any way they want to – take this blog for example. Just make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. There is no shame in admitting you are just like everyone else, and there is no shame in admitting you are different. And us crazy, confused 25 year-olds; we are all exactly the same and completely different. The beauty of being 25 in 2015? We remember a time when the internet didn’t rule our lives. A piece of advice from me to you: if you’re feeling lost, go offline for a week or so and remember what makes you happy. Don’t think about what everyone else is doing. If we all did that same thing, maybe we’d all be able to finally embrace our differences…