When you’re a kid, you have this vision of your life. It’s quite a simple, generic vision that probably looks similar to your parent’s milestones in their twenties. For me that was go to university, meet the love of your life, move in, get a stable job, buy a house, have kids.
There may have even been a timeline something like:
- 21 graduate
- 21/22 get a stable job, promotion every 1-3 years
- 24 married & buy a house
- 28-30 kids
Yet, my 20’s haven’t looked anything like that so far. I’ve fallen in love (properly) twice. Moved in with a boyfriend and 6 months later, moved straight back out. Had 3 jobs and one promotion. Side note, I also still want to be a writer, I don’t have a ‘grown up’ career plan. I don’t see writing as the ‘dream’ that I shelve, but the future.
Also, this is how the patriarchy puts a glass ceiling on women. You’re convinced that there’s a right age to do something and beyond that you’re too old. Yes, in some cases age is relevant i.e. fertility, there is science to suggest there are declines in fertility over a certain age, but that doesn’t mean you’re too old for kids. Adopt, freeze those eggs, or god forbid you’re a woman and don’t want kids – then don’t have kids.
There’s so many options open to you, remove the milestones and do what’s right at the right time for you.
If you didn’t know already, your life is about you, what you do and the people you impact. Your parents, teachers, guardians, friends, mentors, colleagues, government don’t hold the reigns to your life, you do.
The best thing a twenty-something can do is educate yourself, explore your options, visit new places, take new experiences and figure out the kind of life you want to have. There is no template for life, you figure it out as you go. It’s why things like comparison are so bizarre, as you individual experience will be so different to people around you. It’s why domestic thrillers do so well! People look the same as you but they’re entirely different. I’ve written more about comparison here.
I also hadn’t been prepared for how un-ready and young I would feel every time I reached a big milestone. You always feel as though you’re 18 and are looking around for the ‘adult’ in the room.
If you live your life by milestones and timeframes you will always be disappointed and you will limit what you’re capable of, and settle with something less that you’re worthy of.
On the other hand, don’t ever feel as though it’s too late, you’re too old, or the sun has set on a particular dream of yours. There is always more time. Some of the most amazing things that have happened to people I know happened in their thirty’s, forty’s, fifty’s, sixty’s, even seventy’s! There’s always time and it’s never too late to create a life you love.
Life isn’t linear. You might have had your first child at 19, happily married at 22 and renting your family home. You’ve created and owned your path and created a life you love.
The secret to life is to tailor life to you, rather than try to fit in these expected out of date norms from generations before you.
If you do follow this life milestone approach you’ll likely:
- Always be disappointed
- Be unable to adapt to what life throws at you
- Take a lower salary than you’re worth
- Settle for a relationship that is OK because you feel too old to do otherwise
- Work a job you don’t like for the incentive of a promotion ‘one day’
- Feel behind or as though you’re doing something wrong
- You’ll never do what you want to do because you feel it’s too late
In short, remove the milestones in your mind and set yourself free. Explore, enjoy and take new opportunities throughout your life. Create a life that suits you (not one that suits other people).
Do you see life in milestones to meet? Have you set yourself free from this mindset?