The Frustrating Image of the “Put Together” Young Adult

At nineteen years of age it seems like I still have nothing worked out. I’m in a solid relationship, studying a degree, have a part time job, good family relationships and some wonderful friends and yet my life still feels a mess.

I see my boyfriend only once every two weeks and I feel like I spend more time missing him than anything else, motivation for uni rises and falls with pointless lectures that have spun me into student debt, I have no idea what I’m doing with my life after uni and my eating and exercise habits are a disaster. I constantly feel like a bit like I’m hanging off a cliff with my pinky holding me up.

Yep, I’m a student. A run of the mill young adult with no time, energy or money. (I’m actually not as miserable as my complaining makes it sound.) I haven’t really worked out who I am yet or what I’m supposed to be doing. But you know what, I’m doing the darn best I can.

And yet it never seems enough.

I’m not alone in this feeling. A whole generation of people sit with the same thoughts, trying to fulfil this idea of what a real adult is. An idea that I am convinced doesn’t exist.

The “put together young adult” is something that I believe has been somehow been contrived on social media. They are the Instagraming 20 year old’s with successful YouTube channels and blogs and personally owned businesses with hot boyfriends (soon to be husbands) and insane morning routines. They’re glam young Mum’s with flawless make-up and a spotless house. They’re the hipster guys in their mid twenties with brief cases and fancy shoes and girlfriends they call their Mrs. They are regular people who unintentionally create a standard online that doesn’t exist. They are aesthetic. They are goals.

But ultimately, they’re personas.

And that’s not their fault. Because thing is, I’m pretty sure they’re trying to meet the exact same standard, feeling just as lost as the rest of us.

I don’t think feeling a huge amount of pressure to pull things together when you start to reach the end of your teens/ early twenties is a new thing, but I certainly think that this pressure seems to be morphing into an expectation based on an ideal that social media has manufactured. Not to mention university culture which is basically a group of newbie adults trying desperately to impress their fellow “intellectuals”. (To the 18 year old guy in my English class who said his favourite book was Ulysses on the first day; no mate, no it isn’t).

The point is, though I could very well be wrong, I firmly believe that no adult really knows what they’re doing. They’re just human and they’re just winging it like the rest of us. There’s so much pressure put on older teens and young adults from student debts to balancing work, studying and social lives, to an introductions to bills, mental health issues and expectations from family and friends that I think the extra pressure we put on ourselves to be have everything together and demonstrate as much is really nothing but damaging.

They say that teens try to grow up too fast, what if young adults are doing the same thing? What if that’s because they’re expected to be good at all the adult stuff from the moment they turn 18? What if all of this is me attempting to justify the fact I don’t feel like a proper adult yet?

Could be.

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Are Personal Blogs too Personal?

Writing my blog, I think I’ve always been treading a line. I moved from reviewing books and talking about my reading habits to writing about my life and experiences. I was always cautious about putting too much of myself out there both with regards to internet safety and personal boundaries, and somewhere down the road, the fine line I was treading definitely got blurred.

Being a writer, you become hyper aware that everything you write, even the fiction, contains a massive part of yourself. Letting someone read that means giving them an insight into your inner most thoughts, whether they know it or not. Imagine then the extent of this when you’re actually writing about yourself to start with.

I’ve always tried to write about my personal experiences with just a little bit of distance. I’ve tried to phrase my old blog posts as questions or advice, or even tried to present my own experiences as the experiences of the masses. I’ve never known quite how to find a good balance between personal writing and being aware that what I’m sharing is going to be out there on the internet for people to find but then at the same time, writing in the first person, as I am now, and creating content that people relate to based upon my own ideas and experiences, has always been what’s felt the most natural to me and I believe in many ways it is an area of writing that my talents seem to lay in.

The problem arises when I ask myself what it means to have a personal blog? I read a lot of fashion and beauty blogs, a collection of personal blogs that don’t seem to actually get all that personal and then a small handful written by people who really get into the nitty gritty of their own experiences. The bulk of the nitty gritty personal blogs I read come from YouTuber’s (Lucy Moon for example). They’re people who, at least to a certain extent, have become very used to sharing a large part of their lives with people on the internet.  I personally love reading these types of blogs. They help me. And not only by allowing me to see great examples of the kind of writing that I enjoy doing, but also with many of my life experiences.

Over the past year for example, I have been struggling with some mental health issues (once again something I’m still not even sure if is appropriate to share on the internet for me). Reading blogs about people with depression and anxiety and other such difficulties has played a massive role in my feeling better about it all. In this way, I really think super personal blogs are a wonderful thing. But this is the thing, as I reader I’m wholeheartedly for a writer sharing as much of themselves as they can whilst still being comfortable in their work. I believe some of the best writing comes from this. That having been said, as a writer, I’m still not 100% what’s professionally appropriate for someone who wants to make a career as a writer to share.

A lot of my decision-making process comes down to asking myself the question “what is it I want to get out of blogging?” and the answer to that is mainly for people to feel something when they read what I write. I think even further, that’s a goal in my writing as a whole. Aside from improving my writing, getting my name out there and almost documenting my growth as a writer and person, that’s always been the subconscious focus. The best way I know how to do that is use my own experiences to relate to people, and hopefully evoke some sort of emotion in them.

And even as I’m writing this I’m realising how personal my style is. It’s all “I” focused, my thoughts and feelings and dubious voice. And I don’t know if that’s a problem or if in that lays my strength as a writer.

So, are personal blogs too personal? I think the opinion varies from person to person, reader to writer. Is my blog too personal? I’m still trying to figure that out. I want to find a balance, one that doesn’t involve compromising the emotional integrity of the content that I create or my personal privacy and professional persona.

There are lots of ways to be genuine on a personal blog.

 

Standing on One Foot: Balance and Time

I haven’t been a very good blogger recently. I haven’t posted in a very long time, especially considering I was posting every three to four days not so long ago, and I apologise for that.

I’ve been struggling a lot with balance recently. It’s been really panicking me a lot. Between work and finance, university and deadlines, relationships and promises, I feel really wobbly; kind of like I’m standing on one foot. Balancing is hard even when you don’t have a lot on your plate. How any student remains sane is beyond me. Mental health goes out the window for good grades or grades for mental health. Social lives either collapse or thrive always at the expense of something else and honestly I, and I’m sure plenty of other people along with me, usually want to end my day by collapsing onto my bed and screaming blue murder into my pillow in a teary rage. You’d think that’s all a bit melodramatic but no, balance can actually be that hard.

I think we can all try and balance too much. I realise that the nature of life is having to find some balance somewhere but I don’t think there’s anyone I know that doesn’t take on more than they really should or need to. Saying no is one of the hardest things in the world, and even when you make the decision to use it, knowing when to say no and when to say yes and seize opportunity is still tricky.

It’s so easy to feel like your drowning and while taking a breath is an amazing temporary solution, it doesn’t always fix the stress and pressure that sits on your shoulders and weighs down your mind. The solution then? Uh! To do lists, saying no and plenty of rest I suppose? But honestly I know it’s not that simple.

So instead, I’ve been practising just taking some credit where it’s due. Life is damn hard and we all have some heavy stuff to deal with. Pain and struggle shouldn’t be considered to be relative in many ways. We’re all doing the best we can and it’s important to try and remember that our best is in fact enough.

It’s alright to need to lean on others when your trying to balance on one foot, all the good yoga videos tell you that.

Validation and Support: Our Need for it as Writers

It’s no secret what-so-ever that as human’s we are in constant need of validation and support from others. Some people may rely on it more than others, but we all need it in some way. We want acceptance. We want people to agree with us, believe in us and aid is in pursuing our passions. Maybe this is why, as writers, we can be particularly eager for that validation and support.

Following any dream is difficult, but a creative one especially can feel extremely trying. It’s easy to convince ourselves we’re no good at what we do or that it’s a silly idea in the first place or that ultimately, we can’t make money doing what we love. Validation and support plays a massive part in motivating creative people to do what they do best.

We can’t always get it from the people we wish we could, and sometimes the people we love aren’t sure how to show it, but beyond that, when it comes to writing, validation and support from our fellow craftsman and people we admire in the Industry is vital to our growth in terms of confidence in our own abilities.

Ultimately as a writer, your aim is for people to read your work. Whether that be a book or a news article or a poem etc, you want eyes on the page. And yet that can be a completely terrifying concept for the majority of writers as handing over the words you have spent so long crafting can often feel like handing over a piece of yourself. Anything you write is going to say something about you, whether you like it or not, and as writers we know this. That’s another reason why we’re so desperate to know that what we’re working on is good, is well…worth it.

Recently, I was published in an online magazine called Into the Fold. I wrote about body confidence and Instagram. I’ll link the piece here. It was an unpaid piece and yet I have never been so excited and honoured to see my work out there. I love the magazine; a recent discovery that lead to a complete binge of the entire site. I looked at it and felt inspired. I went out on a limb and pitched an idea to the editor and holy smokes, she liked it! She asked me to write for her and within the week my piece was up. I was honoured. I felt (you guessed it) validated and supported. The editor of one of my favourite magazines looked at my work and told me that she thought it was good enough to publish! I was mixed in with the other amazing, thoughtful and well crafted features and writers on the site and for a moment I felt like maybe I wasn’t so bad at this writing thing after all.

When I look back its always moments like these that mean the most to me. A high grade for a creative writing project, a supportive pep talk from a lecturer and writer at university or someone who writes like me telling me that they really love something I worked hard on. To follow a passion like this, of course you have to have the will of your own to work at it, but you also need that push you get from people who understand how hard you work and think it’s paying off.

The writing world is one full of rejection and that’s why I think it’s so important to hold on to those little victories or those little moments when someone believes in you. I’m lucky to have amazing support for what I do and what I want to do from family and friends but I always crave that professional validation. I want to know from the people who’ve made it if they think that I can make it too.

So, writers need validation and support, just as any human does. I think as a community we’re particularly good at offering this to one another and it’s always been something I’ve adored about writers in general.

How do you balance your need for validation and your confidence in yourself?

 

 

Being a Bookworm: When a Hobby Takes Over

I am a complete bookworm. Not only that, but my obsession with reading and writing is such a big part of my life that its sort of become ingrained as part of my identity.

Anyone who’s found their passion in life could tell you how much it influences them and who they become and for me that thing has always been books.

Nothing makes me happier than getting lost in a novel, spending hours gushing over the genius writer that came up with the sentence that punched me in the gut or wasting hours in book shops taking secret sniffs of that new book smell.

My hobbys of blogging and youtube all revolve around my love of reading and writing and when anyone asks me about myself I find it difficult to think of things I do that are outside that field.

I get irked by all of the things typically bookworm like cliff hangers and when the covers change half way through a series. I read books critically because of my degree and have reached a stage where not having an opinion on a book I’ve read is non-existant. If I love a book or hate one, I’ll give you and in depth analysis of why, even if you didn’t ask for one.

My personality and world has largely been shaped by the countless books I sped through in my early teens, my life long dream all starting with a love of John Green novels.

My point? When I say I’m a bookworm, I don’t just mean that I like to read, most true bookworms don’t. A bookworm is just kind of who I am, or at least a massive root to a lot of the parts of me that you might not even imagine stem from it. For better or for worse, I’m a book nerd through and through.

What hobby has helped define you? What do you love?

Thoughts on my Degree: Creative Writing

If you don’t know already, though I’d have thought you would, I’m studying a creative writing degree at university. I made the decision to change from being a joint honours Creative Writing and English Literature student to a single honours Creative Writing last year. I love my degree, even in the moments when I don’t , and I wanted to talk about it with you.

I study my subject at a creative and arts based university which means I’m surrounded by creative people every day. I question myself and my choice to do a creative degree as well as the questioning of others every day but I always come to the conclusion that not only was it the only degree for me, but that it’s a great degree to have, particularly for someone with just high writing ambitions as myself.

My course so far has focused on strengthening and increasing the reach and honing of my writing skill. We are pushed to writing things well out of our comfort zone, and work shopping our writing with our fellow students is a massive part of the course. Studying writing, at least in my opinion, is a bit different because of where you start when you come to university. In terms of the creative writing skill, most people are self taught when they come to uni. Aside from writing the occasional story in English Lit at school, most writers on the course discovered the writing community online or from books and authors they love, and learned the lingo by immersion in that community. The course that I’m taking has very much been based on the idea that we’re in need of a recap of the rules in order to break them and the first year I found I didn’t learn anything new so much as learnt how to make the writing I was already doing far far better.

This year is more about honing in and trying new things, at least for me. I’ve picked modules that support what I’ve always wanted to write, as well as modules that force me into fields that are more of a new interest. This year is far more about learning career skills in terms of writing, and I’ve embraced that by taking an open module that allows me to do a work placement as part of my course. I’m still not sure what I want to do after uni yet, but I know I want to write as a career and this year is allowing me to explore all of the ways that I can do that.

Another thing that’s been great about my degree and specifically my university is that we’re taught by successful and established writers and are constantly shown examples of how people who’ve done our exact course have gone on to be successful published writers. The connections our uni has to great writers, editors and members of the publishing industry give me the confidence to pursue my passion with the knowledge that a job will follow, whatever that might be.

There are lectures and lecturers that really inspire me and of course ones that are a bit more lacking. There are tutors that I feel don’t really understand or even try to understand what I write, but these are all in the minority to what is otherwise a great and motivating course. There are times where I question the expense of uni, particularly with the creative degree and somewhat limited  career prospects (at least in the eyes of many creative degree doubters). I still think there are many ways in which my uni and my course are failing. That being said, for the most part, my uni course only fuels the fire I have for creative writing and fills me with hope for the future. I attend one of the top unis in the country for my course and I’m extremely grateful for that opportunity.

The Beauty in Imperfection

Let’s talk about self image for a second, shall we?

I wanted to talk specifically about imperfection and start by talking about it in a wider sense. Imperfection is everywhere; in places, concepts and people. It’s imperfection that makes our world unique and well beautiful. Let’s think about this.

Think of yellowed book pages and the tea cup with a chip. Think of the height marked spot on the kitchen wall.

Sounds pretty cosy and nice doesn’t it? These imperfections show signs of use and love and experience.

Now lets think about chipped nail polish and girls with freckle covered noses and stretched marked tummies, the boy with a crooked smile, twiggy arms and kink in his hair.

Imperfections in people make them beautiful. Imperfections in things make them beautiful. When we think of our favourite person, there will always be something about them that might be unconventional or “imperfect”. Something that they hate about themselves but we’re attracted to and love.

This is the same even beyond physical imperfection. Jealousy, perfectionism, a snorty laugh, a tendency to cry, a fragile soul, an argumentative temper. Seeing someone’s true beauty is knowing that these things are part of who they are and what makes them beautiful. We all know that. We all see that in the people we love. I could write thousands of words, attempt beautiful poems, about why the boy I love, or my best friend or my sister, is completely imperfect and why I love every single one of their stupid imperfections anyway. Most people could.

So why is it that we’re so unwilling to see our own imperfections as beautiful? This is an open question. I don’t have the answer. All I know is that we all do it and that we should stop. We beat ourselves up for not looking like the magazines, but more than that, for not being happy all the time or being the best at everything we do or making mistakes in life. We don’t forgive ourselves like we forgive the people we love. We don’t want to see ourselves through the same lens as we see the people we love or even with the kindness we often offer to complete strangers.

I’m needy and jealous and I worry about everything. I’m a neat freak, I’m going through a tough time and I hate admitting to not being happy, and I have a terrible relationship with food. People I love will tell you I care, and I’m organised, I put too much pressure on myself and I like sugar. The comparison of their words and mine is a simple demonstration of how harshly we view our own imperfections compared to those of others.

This isn’t supposed to be a high and mighty post and I’m not suggesting that this is a new revelation; of course people have talked about this before. But I wanted to talk about it in our space, think about it myself, and try to make myself realise that even our best qualities falter sometimes. Even the things we love about ourselves can too become imperfections. Everything has a flip side and we have to be okay with realising that it’s not a bad thing. It’s a balanced thing.

How do you remind yourself to view yourself with kindness?