Totally unknown, totally unpredictable.
It’s a scary two words that, isn’t it? The future. Totally unknown, totally unpredictable. Yet we’re frequently expected to have it figured out.
I’m 26, I still consider myself to be young (and in my head I’m sure I’m still 18!) yet I increasingly feel like I need to have my future sorted now. Society expects me to already have my career path set in stone, to already be married, to be starting a family. Anybody else feel this way? I asked my mother recently, “Mam, when do you finally feel like a proper adult? When do you feel like you’ve finally got it all figured out?” She gave me a glance over her knitting and wisely stated, “I don’t think you ever do, love.”
Why do we act like people need to have all this figured out? I love what I do now, but honestly I don’t know where I want to be in 10 years time. I’m still young, I’m still exploring my options. But my field is competitive, and people often say that if I don’t hurry up and decide my long-term goals now, I’ll be “too old”. It’s not just careers either. My long-distance partner and I have been engaged for almost 2 and a half years. The most frequently asked question in my life is, “so when are you getting married?” And I understand that people care about us and are genuinely interested. But sometimes it’s almost as if people are saying, “come on, hurry up, what are you waiting for?” (as if the Atlantic Ocean is not a thing!) It’s as if we’re all expected to achieve things by a certain age, following some kind of unwritten timetable.
Have you ever noticed how everyone is expected to have the same goals too? We’re all expected to go to university, have a “good” career, get married, have children. What about people who don’t want that? What about people who want to travel? What about those who hate studying? What about those who don’t want children?
With all of this pressure, it’s no wonder so many of us feel anxious. We’re expected to predict and control the unpredictable and uncontrollable. As I get older, I’m frequently learning that we can’t always plan for life, and sometimes we end up in wonderful places because we let go of the plans and went with the flow. Sometimes, we get so caught up in our future plans, we miss opportunities staring us right in the face. And you know what? It’s ok if you don’t have it all figured out right now. It’s ok if you aren’t sure what you want from life. It doesn’t matter what age you are, taking some time out to focus on your values and reassess things is absolutely fine. Don’t feel like you have to bow down to the pressure of society at the cost of your own happiness and wellbeing. And during these difficult times, it’s fine if your main focus isn’t your career, finding a partner, having kids, etc. It’s fine if you’re doing the best you can day by day without a master plan.
By Bethan Jones
Course Wellbeing Practitioner