22 going on 16

moody My boss is officially worried about me. He is, he even told me so today at work. But he’s not worried about my late nights in the library which mean that I’m dragging myself into work; he’s not even worried about the (rare) hangovers which I endure through work (though they’ve been essentially non-existance since I started back).

No, he’s worried about my lack of ambition.


The conversation started when I mentioned that my landlord had been showing the house to potential new renters– students will typically start looking at houses in October for the following September so I saw nothing unusually in what I was saying. My supervisor on the other hand, panicked that I would be leaving immeniantly. My boss simply wanted to know what my plans were– graduation is only nine months away after all!

What plans, I laugh.

I shouldn’t laugh, it is a serious matter after all. The job market for my generation looks more terrifying than facing the Niagra Falls with my phobia of water. There’s simply nothing for anyone and even with my prestige Masters degree (the prestige being in the fact that I’ll have one degree more than the majority of the British population rather than the degree itself) I feel like I’m drowning.

But I’ll stop with the water metaphors, I’m making myself anxious.

The concept of needing a plan at my age is daunting. To me, it feels like 22 is simply too young to even be considering a career– I mean, aren’t us 20-somethings supposed to be racking up our list of one night stands and taking our teenage sheninagens to the next extreme? Every blog tells us that this is the time that we should go travelling, to jump out of an airoplane; that these are the years where we can be reckless.

This is the last decade we can justify hungover shifts at work and still living with our parents.

So why do I feel like I’m the only person who’s not in a long term relationship and a secure job before I’ve hit 25? Many of my friends and peers back home were engaged and pregnant soon after they hit 16, many are onto their second (whether that’s child or engagement ring doesn’t matter). I know people who have travelled the world on their own and with friends, while others have managed to keep a job for more than a year. It’s all quite daunting to me because everyone seems to have some idea of what they’re doing while I just want to hide away in my studies and never leave university.

The feeling is quite ironic actually. When it came to me and my sister, I was always the “smarter” older sibling and the responsible one. I had the plans while my sister preferred playing in the mud. But it wasn’t until I was talking about this to one of my coursemates that they suggested their own theory for this:

We all mature at different ages.

An odd concept of course, I don’t see myself as de-maturing. I still seem to be the agony aunt and take on the role of older sister at every opportunity, even when the other person is a few years older than me. More than anything I enjoy being right and having all the answers– even if I don’t listen to my own advice at the best of times.

But I guess that’s the problem, or not: I’m at the same maturity level that I was when I was 16. Even then I was responsible but I much prefered helping other people achieve than gain any limelight for myself; though if you knew me you might argue otherwise. I freak out if I’m made the centre of attention– and I think that follows with my idea of a career. I wanted to be a lawyer from a young age but my main argument for not pursuing it was because I wasn’t smart enough.

I was smart enough, or at least I had the potential to be. Looking back, I was just being lazy and by setting a standard like becoming a successful lawyer was a risk. I could fail and people could see me fail. I don’t want to apply for jobs which I’m more than able to do because I don’t feel that I should be given such a job. There are a huge amount of people who I know that are more motivated than me who have no problems, there are also many who are smarter than me who have the qualifications to do as they please. There are people I know who should be acing a masters degree but aren’t able to afford to do it.

And here I am complaining despite the opportunities that I’ve been lucky enough to get.


In all honesty, I think my boss is right– my lack of ambition at 22 is probably a bad sign. But not because that means that I’ve potentially ruined any chance of gaining a relatively decent career and building a life for myself– I have plenty of time for that. But I think I need to do something out of my comfort zone, and to take advantage of the fact that I am still able to learn so much about myself.

After all, your twenties are supposed to be the most memorable years of your life. And I need to make up for my teens.


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