I turned 21 recently and was drawn to the sudden realisation of the impending end to my educational career. There appears to be a few options from this point:
- Move back into your parent’s house, pursue a career, earn enough money to afford a place of your own.
- Move back into your parent’s house, find a part time job, continue to leech off their good will having birthed you, until you either desperately return to education or pursue a career.
- Travel the world with the money you have saved, (or the money you have begged from your parents).
Many seem set on pursuing the final option, opting to spend their entire savings on half a year, perhaps even a full one or two, on travelling and seeing the world. This is not a bad option, as various members of past generations have told me. The world is infinitely more accessible than before for the youth of today. With a few months of saving and no obligations tying you down, you’re but a cheap flight and a hostel away. Now I’m not going to suddenly spin this post about, and say this is a foolish waste of your time, so worry not any of you who subscribe to the exotic term ‘wanderlust’. I’m in fact traveling for some time myself in a few months, and consider it a healthy way to spend some of the essential time of your youth. But this is the point, it’s your youth to spend as you wish.
Twenty-one is not old. In fact, our friends across the pond are only now able to enjoy a drink in a bar. There is no pressure to do anything immediately. Throughout education we are told of the difficulties of the ever evolving job-hunt, the need for not only a degree but a bulletproof CV and irrefutable references. We must then march armed into the world, baring our teeth and ready for any question an interviewer will toss us (well, perhaps not in the maths department for us poor souls lost in the humanities these past few years). The aim is to earn over £21,000 and start beating back that cumbersome loan our blissful time at university has landed us. Now this is all well and good, but why should there be a time frame?
I recently listened to a rather inelegant rant from a well-meaning New Yorker, emphasising the importance of your early twenties, and much of it I found myself agreeing with. Yes, you could start a career, move up the ranks and potentially in a few decades grab an early retirement. Thus goes the unattainable dream so many of us sleep walk to (though that is a matter for another post). Life indeed leads this way, but why should we strive for this so soon?
If life at university has taught me anything it’s that I am more than capable of living basically. There are many who take this to mean they are thus able to travel the world, slumming in cheap hostels and without too great a care for personal hygiene. However, the same can apply for your time ‘in the real world’. Why not find a part time job, pay out for rent and food and put the rest in savings? Pursue your hobbies, plan trips with friends and attempt to find work with your ideal job. A career can start just the same at twenty-five as it can at twenty-one.
This may sound like a call to arms for those too lazy to embrace the working life, however I assure you I mean quite the opposite! Enjoy your life while free from obligations, but use that time to better yourself and embrace life. The world of family and responsibility is important, and another great experience along the line. But for now, why not just enjoy your youth?