When I was a child, I distinctively remember all the adults around me telling me just to enjoy being… a child.
Life came at me hard and fast – one second I was living at home with the curfew; the next, I’m in an office 5 days a week, exhausted most of the time and doing all this serious stuff like planning for a mortgage and registering to vote. I tweeted the other day that I was already tired of the “adulting” life, and I’ve only been living this life for a few short years. I definitely wasn’t prepared for what was to come…
Nobody ever told me that work was harder than uni…
Actually – I was told the opposite! I was pretty terrified in the lead up to starting work full-time as I just couldn’t fathom how I would go from 11am lay ins, to 12 hour work days starting at 8am (it still gives me the shivers – and I’m living it now!) Many adults in my life, including my parents, told me to chill out and actually convinced me that work was better and easier than university. For sure the major downside to university for me was that there was always something hanging over my head – there was always a piece of work that I hadn’t done, or a lecture I hadn’t caught up on, meaning that I could never truly relax, even on the weekends (at least, not without feeling guilt about it!) Work promised a life without this stress on my shoulders, the opportunity to really turn off when I was at home, and of course – some cash. Although it delivered on these points, university outperforms in every other area. Work stress is different to uni stress – uni stress sort of piles up and comes knocking on your door around exam period and before you know it you’re spending two months pulling 3ams to catch up on the Accounting class you never paid attention to. Work stress is an ongoing, prolonged kind of pain, which lets up around Easter, summer and Christmas. For example, today (Monday) I got into work at 8am and I left at 9pm, and I worked non-stop during the day – even as I ate my sushi at lunch I would eat one roll, do a bit of work, and alternate in this way until my food was done. With that all said – I didn’t even tick off everything on my to do list – I left at 9pm as I decided I was too drained to do anything more. Now I’m blogging, and after this I have another project to work on, and tomorrow I’ll do it all again (but substituting the 9pm finish time with a gym session instead). Of course there are always quiet days and even quiet periods – but for the most part, this type of stress far outweighs a few months of exam-related stress a year.
Nobody told me that student finance would rob me
I think I was the second year to hop onto this ridiculous £9k-per-year university scheme, and as it was so fresh we had a few folks come around to our school to educate us a bit more on the changes. It seemed simple enough: you receive £27k in loans from the government (+ maintenance, if need be), and you start paying this back once you’re working, proportionately to your income. I guess – this was sort of right… I started paying back my loan a few months into working, and it inflates with a pay rise etc; really, I just sort of saw it as a tax. I knew I had a backlog of payments to get to, but all seemed well as far as I could see. That was until I found out about the interest charged – that’s the part they perhaps failed to delve into. The interest I pay on my loan is so damn high that each month, only c.10% of the payment coming out of my pay check is actually going towards paying down my loan. Ten per-cent. The gag is – that a lot of careers need a university degree. Of course, not all, but if you want to be a doctor for example and even the job I work in right now – this is not possible without a university degree. So it’s sort of a catch 22 with no way to win. I definitely want to accelerate my payments and start to pay it back earlier, but I do prioritise getting my finances together to get on the property ladder first and foremost.
I didn’t know that “adult”, doesn’t really mean “adult”
I’ve felt like an adult now since I was 18, I mean, that’s when the law started to define me as one. Although I really started to feel like an adult around 19-20, that was the first time I was responsible for paying bills, reading meters, voting, cleaning and renting. That all seems pretty grown up to me. Now, I feel like a serious grown up. I work full time, I’m about to be closer to 25 than 20 (*pukes*), and I no longer receive any sort of financial support from my parents. That said, I’ve never ever been treated like an adult. In school – the teachers treated us like children, and in university, I really wasn’t as independent as I thought I was (I had no income and no clue what I was doing with myself), even now, being the youngest person in most of the places I go to – I’m still just left feeling… young and inexperienced, wrapped in one. I always wonder what the age is you hit when the table flips and you are actually seen and treated like an adult by most people in society, but then again, maybe this is something I perhaps don’t want to come around as fast as I think I do.
I didn’t expect the real world would to come at me so abruptly
Life is really laid out in front of us for 21 years. You go to nursery and then school, you do your GCSEs and then go to a college or a sixth form, you do your A Levels and then go to university, you graduate and then you get a job. Every single year life writes out your to-do list and this is what you work towards – be it starting university, starting a new school, graduating, and anything else that falls under the bracket. This is the conventional way of doing things and the route a lot of us take.
But… then what?
All of a sudden, you finish that final laid out task (i.e. graduating), and then the rest is on you. Suddenly you and your friends are all doing different things – working different jobs, some still studying, some travelling the world – and not before long everyone is questioning you on what your next step is and sometimes you just don’t know. But all you do know is that for the first time in a long time, you feel totally in control of your life – and probably one thing you fear the most is steering this ship and ending up in the category of “mediocre”. This is perhaps one of the hardest hitting facts about “adulting”, that, actually life is what you make it, and you’re not always going to have people telling you what to do.
I didn’t know that no one really knows what they’re doing
The older I get, the more I realise that we’re all just winging it. It always makes me laugh when people ask me for advice, or applaud me for achievements, because the truth is – I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. And the more I experience life – the more I see this is the case for a lot of us. Sometimes the people that look super confident aren’t as confident as you’d think, sometimes the really successful just got out there and tried things and something worked out, sometimes the guy spewing out facts to you and sounding really smart is just making things up on the spot. Fake it til you make it – that’s my philosophy really. And occasionally if you fake things enough, you start to learn, and these things may just because your reality.
LOve this post! I ttoally agree about student finance THEY ARE THIEFS
I really do think that life is laid out for us, like you said. School, uni and then all of a sudden we are out in the world. I never realised how much tax I would be paying.