Unless you’re an Instagram famous travel blogger (we can dream), it’s likely that your time on the road, in the skies and at sea will eventually come to an end. For me, and probably many other people, it felt like coming back down to earth with a BANG – like an aeroplane landing in stormy weather. Maybe you hadn’t thought about what you want to do next and, even if you have a plan, it’s easy to see why anything you do next is probably going to be just a teeny weenie little bit underwhelming compared to the previous chapter in your life. I actually had an idea of what I wanted to do next and I was excited about the future but life, as always, had a different plan which made the first few months after I came home much more difficult than most people would experience.
Over the last few months I have felt crushed by the pressure of expectations, of both the people around me and expectations I had placed upon myself. When I say people I’m referring to those family friends and distant relatives (we all know the ones) that see you occasionally and have enough interest in your life to feel like they deserve an opinion but they don’t actually know you very well at all. People accepted, even encouraged my aspirations to go travelling and, when I did, they were impressed by my adventures and interested in hearing the stories. But now that I’m back from travelling and working abroad and no longer have interesting stories to tell they’ve moved on to the dreaded question “So what are you doing now? Do you have a job yet?”. The general stance seems to be that I’m expected to walk straight into a ‘proper job’ and get on with my life but, as the many struggling graduates in our generation will tell you, that’s not as easy as it looks.
As much as I hate being asked this question, (every time I’m asked, it crushes my soul a little bit more) there are only a handful of people who have ever made me feel judged by my apparently inadequate answer. My family are supportive, as are the majority of other people I speak to, they offer advice suggest job openings they’ve seen recently or recount a story of either themselves or their own children struggling to find their path in life or taking a little longer to land a job. Unfortunately, it only takes a few judgers to really get inside your head, especially since society has been placing expectations upon us since the day we were born. Expectations have pushed me to the point where I talk negatively about my current situation. I’m working two part time jobs and one seasonal job as well as volunteering twelve hours a week. I’m trying, I’m gaining experience and skills for my future career and I should be proud of everything I have achieved so far, so why do I feel like I’ve somehow failed?
I can’t seem to get my head around why people are so quick to judge the lives of others when we all have different definitions of success! I’m taking all the opportunities I can to try and make it to where I want to be, I’m not there yet but as long as I’m not slobbing around on the sofa I should be allowed to enjoy the journey.
So to the people who make me feel judged I’d like to say: stop judging my life on the basis of your personal definition of success, please don’t make me feel like I’m doing something wrong just because I’m not meeting your own personal expectations. When your daughter graduates from university and doesn’t walk straight into a graduate job maybe you’ll finally realise how much pressure is put on students and graduates these days.
To society I’d like to say: Where do the expectations end? We need to change our view on the world and make the alternative routes through education and employment a respected choice and not view them as the option for people who have ‘failed’. We need to encourage children to enjoy art, drama, music and sport in schools and not tell them they’re not clever if they don’t excel at traditionally ‘academic subjects’.
And to anyone who feels like they’re in a similar situation to me: We’re trying and we’re learning and that’s ok. As long as the journey makes us happy we should feel successful so don’t let the judgemental types bring you down. This video really helped to pick me up when I was feeling down I hope this helps you too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPmRmz7ySCg