As millennials, we’re programmed to the notion of instant gratification. We’re in constant need of something more than what we currently have, instead of taking our time to develop something worthwhile.
Last year, right at the end of my university career, I was feeling blue. “The end is nigh”, I kept repeating to myself over and over, worrying too hard about what my future looked like and focusing too little on the challenging array of work that lay directly ahead of me. This constant need for the future left me utterly unfulfilled, after all, there is only so much planning one person can do, eventually you’ve got to face the truth.
All the typical cliches were thrown around when I spoke out about my angst for the future. “Live in the present”, one person would say, whilst the other dictated that I be in the moment, one with myself. This was useless advice. It was only when I gave my brother a call and opened up to him honestly that I heard what I needed to hear to calm my nerves. It was, and to this day remains to be, the best piece of information I’ve ever consumer, and it’s something I fixate on when that oh-so overwhelming worry of the future creeps back into the corners of my mind. He said,
“10 years ago, where were you? What were you doing?”
“I was 12 man, I was riding bikes with my friends and watching TV after school, why is that relevant at all?!”
I couldn’t help but think there was no point to this story, but there was. He continued.
“That’s right, a decade ago you were playing in the mud and having fun, and look at what you’ve been through to get to here, now. To be at 22. You’ve been through GCSE’s, A-levels, university, love and loss, hell… you’ve even spent a year living abroad! That’s a lot of stuff, over a very long time. You’ve come so far in that decade from 12 to 22, and you’ve still got 3 more ‘workable’ decades in front of you, 30 years of prime-time living to figure it out. In 3 decades’ time, you’ll only be 52, which by that time will likely be only half of your lifespan.”
I was taken aback. Here I was, stuck in my own head and all-consumed by my fear that time was rapidly running out, when it had really only just begun. My incessant desire for more, more, more had clearly taken hold of me.
I’d only been graduated less than a year, and I thought that because of my hard work I deserved to have it all figured out. I felt a sense of entitlement, that it should all be so easy from here on out… at 22 years old. I felt like I deserved to be financially viable and successful.
I didn’t, I really didn’t. My career has only just started and no matter how hard you work at something, it takes an awful lot of time to develop skills, contacts and experience in order to become successful. An awful lot of time.