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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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.

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?

Me At Nineteen

I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube recently, particularly videos called “me at…” which are people documenting themselves at a specific time in their life so that they can look back at it later. I don’t have the talent in media to make an artsy video, but I did like the idea and so I thought I would make a blog post instead.

Me at nineteen is a lot of complicated and contradictory things and my life looks much the same.ย 

I lost a lot of weight and I managed to find myself and lose myself all in one year and I think I’m only just starting to find myself again. I feel beautiful sometimes but my body confidence, general confidence, was found and lost too.ย 

I’m having a hard time with my emotions and seeing myself as enough. But I’m working on it.

Me at nineteen lives away from home in England with five beautiful and wonderful friends and still misses my amazing family and friends at home. I’m still in contact with them though and this makes me happy.

Me at nineteen has a boyfriend. An amazing, supportive, intelligent, gorgeous, dorky boyfriend whom I can solidly say I am hopelessly in love with. I never thought that would happen to me, especially at nineteen.

Me at nineteen is sad and scared to see him move away.ย 

I’m worried I’m being naive.ย 

Me at nineteen is also sad and scared and excited to start a second year of university, to start planning my future.ย 

I’m positive, but feel like I’m starting to have to really fight off the cynicism of adulthood.

Money is becoming increasingly important to me the less of it I have. I dislike this.

Me at nineteen is trying to get a hold of things, trying to understand and pull all my shit together.

Me at nineteen is trying to be a better person.ย