Until relatively recently I was almost blind to my own mortality. Not in a reckless or immature way per se. I simply got by on a blissful “oh, I’ve got all the time in the world” attitude – one that a lot of twenty somethings are probably all too familiar with. I certainly haven’t deprived myself of fun, new experiences or opportunities because of it – I’ve travelled, I’ve studied, I’ve partied, I’ve loved, I’ve made fantastic friendships – but, I can’t help but look back and think that I wasted a lot of my twenties ‘killing time’ in crap jobs and relationships that deep down I probably knew weren’t right from the start.
And I’m not saying all of this to be a Debbie downer, I’m simply setting the scene, because what I’m getting at is that earlier this year when I turned 28 something suddenly clicked in my mind. I don’t quite know what happened, but it was as though my entire mentality had changed overnight –perhaps adult mode finally configured, or at least threatened to.
28’s a strange one though isn’t it? I always assumed 30 would trigger my existential crisis (maybe it still will), but there was something about 28 that made me assess every element of my life and left me with a sense of urgency to do and see everything right away.
Suddenly I wanted to become fluent in a new language (currently addicted to DuoLingo), master an instrument (pending start date), become a runner (my knees hate me), paint a masterpiece (dabbling in acrylics messily) write and illustrate a kids’ book (it’s a possibility, maybe), and see the world (in progress) – all overnight. I even impulsively dyed my bright blonde hair dark brown and cut a terrible fringe in over the weekend to satisfy a sudden urge for change.
I may as well be walking around with the countdown clock playing in my head as I strive to achieve every goal and dream before my twenties come to a close, because some part of my bonkers sub-conscious seems to think these things can’t be done post-30 (I am fully aware this is not true). But, while this all seems a bit mad, I’ve actually never felt so motivated in my life – which has got to be a good thing, right?
With this motivation, however, there is also the fear. I began 2019 convinced that I was going to move to Australia. The hitch is, Australia’s cut off age for working visa applications is 30, which is probably what instilled this sense of urgency in me in the first place – it was a now or never situation.
Well…spoiler alert…I didn’t go.
I’ve no doubt that if I’d gone ahead with it, I would have had the time of my life. I’d probably spend two years making amazing friends, exploring beautiful coastlines, becoming a pro surfer (?!), cuddling koalas, lapping up the laid-back Aussie lifestyle and generally living the dream. But a niggling doubt in the back of my mind made me do a U-turn. When my visa would inevitably come to an end and I’d be booted out the country – which would come around all too quickly – I’d probably come back and feel as though I’d regressed. Likely scenario: I would be unemployed, homeless and financially worse off. And call me a conformist, but I would quite like to forge a career, be a home-owner and have a family someday.
The “I’ve got all the time in the world” attitude suddenly felt like a distant memory. Just last year I didn’t think twice about quitting my job to travel (which turned an already existing travel bug into the notorious B.U.G) but fast forward a year and suddenly a sense of responsibility was dominating my mind.
To some, this probably sounds like a negative attitude to have, but for me – someone with a history of making hasty decisions – I think it simply marks a shift in maturity, appreciation for the life I’m currently living and a sense of what I want my future to look like. Who knows if the grass is greener on the other side, but it’s pretty green over here at the moment, so who cares? I’m in a job I enjoy and can see myself progressing in, I love my life in London – why continue a hunt for ‘something better’?
Seeing the world is still very much on my agenda though, and I think it always will be. I’m constantly researching where I can travel to next and carefully allocating my annual leave so I can get the maximum time off to explore a new country (recommendations always welcome!). And although it may not be Australia, the opportunity to live abroad may come around again someday too when the time is right.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a healthy urgency to live life to the fullest – in fact, it’s the best way to be when you don’t know what could happen tomorrow – but I want to do it because it gives me satisfaction, not because I’m in a race to complete a twenties ‘bucket list’.
Speak to you again when I hit 30 and have the real crisis.