Not Yet Ready to Adult
At the beginning of the semester I really thought I was ready for this adulting thing. I am set to complete my degree in April next year with a three-point-something GPA and a resume packed with experience. According to my parents, I have done it ‘the right way’. However, as each assignment, quiz, group presentation and exam gets me closer to the end of my university experience, the last thing I want to do is go straight into the corporate world.
I am 23 years old, still young, inadequately exposed to the ways of the world and, if I am being completely honest, school has left me mentally exhausted. The insanely close deadlines, a whole week of back-to-back exams (twice a semester at that!) and the disorder and chaos that is group work: I just really need a break before someone expects me to be an adult — whatever that word is supposed to mean anyway.
I am not trying to sound like a spoiled and ungrateful millennial who thinks, because I have reached the socially accepted form of success for my age, the world owes me. No, this is not the case at all. What I am having trouble understanding is why everyone expects me to have my life figured out and ready to make a decision which will determine the trajectory of the rest of my life.
Therefore, the way I see it, I have two options; I can either continue chasing the offer I have received from a reputable beauty firm and start the fast-paced, insufficiently rewarding, sleep deprived climb up the corporate ladder; or, I could go live on an island for a year and take a relaxing break from the inevitable reality which is working for a corporate company.
I know that there are other types of companies that I can choose to work for besides corporate companies however, my over-achieving self will not be satisfied with anything less. See, for the past three years, I have put all this pressure on myself to be ready for the next step after university. I kept a close eye on my GPA and, every time I got the opportunity, I completed internships to grow my professional skills. I wanted there to be no doubt in my future employer’s mind that I was prepared for a position at their organization. My resume had to say; “I am smart, hard-working and ambitious”.
But, I guess my plan backfired. Because, although on paper I am on track to actualize what has been my fantasies for the past three years, internally, I am just not ready. I am the one who is not prepared; I do not see the value in exchanging my freedom and personal growth in exchange for a fancy job title at some industry-leading firm and an enticing salary.
Instead, I want to ease into adulthood. I want to be out of my comfort zone, experience a new culture and get lost and figure out a new city on my own. In my head, this is adulting. So far, my life has been rules, rules and more rules. The freedom I expected to feel in college, I feel, was a total façade of how the real wold really operates. In our heads, we think we have been making our own decisions and are taking care of ourselves. False. Our parents are guiding our decisions and are taking care of us; both emotionally and financially. And, this is not a bad thing, so long as we would actually be under their roof for the rest of our lives.
So, back to my island idea. It came to me one day while I was thinking of what I would be doing next year. Instead of seeing myself at a desk with a computer screen in front of me, I could not help but imagine myself living somewhere foreign and exotic. Where the weather is always perfect and I was giving back or impacting lives in a way that also makes sense to me.
In this vision of myself, I was not forcing products or ideals onto anyone and most importantly I was not stressed or trying to overcompensate for my exhaustion by being extra nice to anyone. It felt so right, the best utopia my imagination could have drawn. So, I entertained this idea a bit more. Every free moment I got, I wondered off with my thoughts and started weighing out the pros and cons of each choice.
I have, unexpectedly (and unfortunately for my parents who will have a harder time convincing me to “seriously think this through” than I did making up my mind), decided that I am not going to kill my youth just yet: I am giving up a corporate job offer and going to live on an island for a year.
The way I see it, our parents are always telling us, “You’re still young” and “don’t rush these things” so, I am only taking their advice. 23 is a very young age to start getting consumed by work and if I do not travel and get to see more of the world now, while I still have the flexibility and thirst for life, when else will I able to afford to take time off from my life to do so.
As some of my peers and I get closer and closer to the end, I hope that I am not the only one seriously evaluating entering ‘the system’ that is the real world immediately after college. We only have this one chance to be this young and this flexible. I know that we put in a lot of time and energy to get this far and our parents have made even bigger sacrifices to get us to this level. However, as H Jackson Brown Jr. put it, “Be bold and courageous, when you look back on your life you will regret the things you didn’t do more than the ones you did”.