Our society is built around expectations.
Expectations as to how we look, how we behave, the type of job we should have,
the type of person we should marry, the trajectory our life should take. Often
these aren’t even conscious thoughts about a person, just things we naturally
assume to be the case. But why? Why do we think we have the right to expect
something of a person, whether we know them or not? We are all individuals,
with the power of free will. We can do whatever the hell we like. (Within
reason, let’s not go breaking any serious laws!)
I’d like to talk about the last thing on
that list – the trajectory of someone’s life. For young people, like myself, there
can be a lot of pressure to figure out what we want to do with our lives after
leaving school. The most conventional route is college or university, followed
by getting a job, then later down the line, marriage and kids. In many ways,
this standard of expectation is far better than in the past, when women weren’t
supposed to work, and marriage and kids came far earlier in life than they do
now. But somehow, our modern day convention has become very restrictive, and is
definitely not for everyone nowadays.
There are more and more people who want to
travel the world, who want to do a job they are passionate about, even if it is
difficult or unstable, who have no desire for marriage or children. And what’s wrong
with this? Whose right is it to tell them “no”? We often talk of stability and
long-term plans, and question the wisdom of doing these things listed above. People
are constantly questioning us about the future, from as young as primary
school, when they ask “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Then high
school is a continuous conveyor belt of subject choices, CV advice and open
days. And for some people, the future is what’s most important to them. But it’s
important to remember that this is not true for everyone. Society can be so
forward-looking all the time that we forget to enjoy the moment we are in right
We no longer live in a time where we have
to settle down and work from a young age. We have the liberty to do as we
please, to enjoy life in the present.
Young people have the rest of their lives to settle down, so why shouldn’t they
take a risk and do something reckless now?
If not now, then when? Some people may choose to never settle down, and they’re
perfectly within their rights not to. No one should feel coerced into a lifestyle
they dislike, because of what anyone else expects of them, be it family,
friends or society as a whole. Some people may take the sensible route now, and
use their retirement for all these other experiences; but life is unpredictable
and we can’t always count on having that time. No matter how much you try to
plan your future, you never know what’s coming around the next corner that
could derail the whole thing.
Don’t waste time on things you don’t enjoy,
just because someone else thinks you should. Don’t settle for a job or a person
or anything else that you don’t feel is right. If the conventional route works
for you, and makes you happy, then go for it. If it doesn’t, then don’t. Don’t
panic if your plans don’t come together immediately either, life can be tough
sometime. But don’t give up them. Do what you love, be who you want to be, take
chances and embrace life. Because it’s not going to wait around for you.
Songs: “The Reckless and the Brave” – All Time Low and “Too Young to Feel This Old” – You Me At Six