“Don’t worry, none of us know what the EFF we’re doing.”
I went out to breakfast with a girlfriend this week, and she was telling me about how scared she’s been feeling lately.
She’s scared about life. She recently left uni, but still doesn’t know what she wants to do for a career. She says she regrets doing the course that took her three years to complete. She’s in a relationship, but not exactly happy. She’s broke – dead broke. She has absolutely no idea where she’ll be next month, let alone in five years time.
I tried to explain to her that us twenty-somethings are all largely the same – that we’re all confused – but she didn’t believe me. She looked utterly bewildered when I told her that I often feel breathlessly lost too.
“But… you seem to have it so… together.”
Hah! Uhhhhh no.
Honestly, I put on an act like I have my shit sorted. My online life is manicured. Selective. Less… messy.
I like to come across like a Strong Lady Woman who knows exactly where she’s headed. But, let me tell you, that’s all an act. It’s actually total bullshit.
Because I don’t have it together. Not even close.
Truthfully, my internal monologue sounds a lot like this:
“What the fuck what the fuck what the fuck what the fuck.”
I have no idea where I’m going. I have no idea what I’m doing.
We all live in such a competitive world, and we’re all keen to out-do each other. Even if we don’t talk about it openly, we want to be having the most fun, getting the highest marks, having the best sex, and making the most money. We want to be successful, to be that image of perfection, the twenty-something who has it all. Even more, we want to get there first. We’re itching to reach success young, and when we’re not succeeding as much as our friends are, we get anxious.
But the linear path that guided us through our school years isn’t here anymore, instead there’s a labyrinth of fuckery that we are forced to navigate. Blindfolded. With our hands behind our backs. With no money. And a killer hangover.
I saw a meme the other day (because memes are the quintessential source of factually sound information, obvs) that said that, at 23, JK Rowling, Tina Fey, Oprah and Walt Disney’s careers were each hopelessly unsuccessful. They were respectively broke and, for the most part, unemployed.
And as an anxious 21-year-old, I really needed to read that.
Of course, I have good days. Days where I do feel confident and inspired. Where I leap out of bed and am keen to get stuck into the day.
But those days are outnumbered by those where I feel panicky about what direction I’m heading in and where my final destination is. Days where I do nothing. Where I’m so consumed with my own confusion that I sit in bed and watch Gossip Girl reruns for eight hours straight.
You know what? Part of me thinks that if I had it all sorted out, I would be doing something wrong.
It’s OK to not have a rigid plan, it’s OK to not look five years down the track and see your life with crystal-clear clarity.
Because when we meticulously plot our futures, we start closing doors and ignoring opportunities.
This year has shown me that the best things to come out of life are the ones which you did not plan for. The ones you took risks with.
The older I get, the more I realise that none of us know what the eff we’re doing. Everyone’s bluffing, and making it up as they go. We’ll probably never feel that sense of complete assuredness, and maybe that’s a good thing.
You aren’t alone in feeling lost or directionless – we all are.
Some of us are just very convincing actors.