“Actually, I already wrote an article on the exactly same topic,” chuckled Margarethe while sipping on wine. It was a Saturday night and we were sitting on her bedroom floor, preparing for a much needed dancing session after the long week.
I had all sorts of feelings inciting me write this post, but hearing that my witty, talented friend already wrote what was most likely to be a more sophisticated version of the same article I had on my mind simply made me burst out. Given the context and the topic, it was more than ironic.
Margarethe’s piece is online on the Spreewild Magazine website and if you speak German, I highly recommend you read it (here). No matter how much I loved it, the article didn’t however completely crowd out the idea of mine (and I loved it for that, too).
Margarethe writes about the sense of disorientation in your twenties. There is no reliable point of reference when it comes to pace or timing of your life events, as everybody around us is simply up to very different things. There are the globetrotters, the PHDs, the newlyweds. It’s impossible to get a relevant comparison – we’re all coming from different backgrounds, aiming for different destinations. Yet, we all somehow seem to be expected to get there on time.
There is no reliable point of reference in your twenties.
My article starts right where Margarethe’s ends. I’ve been meaning to write about the strange sensation I felt lately, but for quite a few months I just couldn’t put a finger on it. Celebrating successes in my friends’ lives, experiencing minor and major milestones and dealing with it all at once, 2018 has been turbulent so far – for the lack of a better word. Because turbulent isn’t the all-embracing label for the feelings I had to cope with. There was happy, too, and devastating and empowering and insecure and adventurous and a whole lot of other adjectives.
Last but not least, there was stressful, too.
As my last post on introversion implies, I’m a person who likes to overthink a lot. Overthinking is a kind of my hobby, just as chess or ceramic classes are for other people. It’s wonderful, burns lot of calories and keeps you up at nights. An unpleasant side effect, though, is that you question everything around you. And naturally, when there is a bunch of life changes of significant importance just swishing around your head, you question them, too. In the past few months, I’ve had a first-had experience with what Margarethe described as a lack of orientation. I compared my actions with those of people around me, which left me with exactly zero hint for what to do with my own life.
In this day and age, we are being taught that there is a tutorial for everything. When something in your life doesn’t go smoothly, the easiest
way to the problem solution is to deconstruct everything and look up the answer in a bookstore or on youtube – be it a cakey foundation or a collapsing marriage. We are burnishing the single components of our lives as if they were automotive devices. We rip them out of their context, polish them until they’re nice and shiny again… and then, we wonder why it doesn’t work out miraculously well.
This comes off as a very snide and judgmental paragraph, but I’m the last one to be morally superior here. I was trying to follow a tutorial many times in my life and ended up with a total fiasco. And frankly, I wouldn’t even judge myself too hard for that. Everybody wants to do things right, and in the age of how tos, it’s very easy to mistake inspiration for a copy&paste. We assume that somebody being happy means they made the right decisions and therefore invented the very formula for happiness. At least I used to think that, and then desperately tried to implement that non-existent formula into my own decision making. Relationships, work, social life…Long story short: it didn’t work. At all.
We assume that somebody being happy means they made the right decisions in life
If there’s anything this whole Am I living my life the right way? thing in my twenties has taught me, it’s how little we actually know each other.
Maybe you don’t have either a husband or a start-up and that’s ok.
Maybe you have both and that’s ok, too.
Just because you haven’t become an Instagram influencer five years ago doesn’t mean you’re too late.
Just because you dropped out of uni to work doesn’t mean you’re too early.
They say that timing is everything but nobody tells us that timing is subjective.
We’re all on time.
Maybe we’re just a little bit clueless and maybe, that’s actually the best thing we can be right now.