Twenties and your pursuit of happiness

I’m fed up of seeing posts like ’20 pieces of advice I should’ve listened to when I was in my 20s’. Some of them, may well contain small snippets of good advice, for example, leave a job if you aren’t happy. The majority of these posts though? They just allow for the writer or sharer of them to lecture you in something THEY think that you should be doing. This doesn’t just go for posts either, I also mean when it happens in real life conversations too. When someone asks you what you are up to and the moment, and the reaction is a ‘sigh’ or a ‘well if I was you…’. Well that’s just it – you aren’t me.

You want to travel for a year? Do it. You want to work in an office? Do it. You want to try a few things till you work out what you want to do? Do it. You want to take a job, but it isn’t what you parent or your friends expected? Then, you guessed it. Do it! I wouldn’t have anything against these posts if they were written as pieces of genuine self-reflection, but they are instead often written as a means of the writer trying to convince themselves that what they are doing is right/better/more fun by slating people that do the opposite. That same comment goes when someone attempts to give you the ‘if I was you’ line. You should always question advice we are given – how does that advice relate to me? We shouldn’t be afraid to argue back as to why we think that piece of advice doesn’t quite fit with us.

I have a real life example of the above. I did a law degree. 5 placements in various solicitor offices later I realised, hey, I don’t really enjoy this. And that’s fine. That was my call. However, I’m fed up of trying to justify why I wanted to pursue a change to many that ask me about it. Why isn’t the explanation ‘I wasn’t happy’ enough? Do I slate those who do want to pursue that path? No – if that makes them happy, then who am I to say hey you, shouldn’t you be off traveling, or being a freelancer, inventing your own business or doing <insert a, b or c expectation here>? Everyone has things that make them happy – why do we feel the need to berate others because they haven’t chosen the path that we think they should have?

I always see posts that say ‘do this’ and ‘don’t do that’. Well, just because that particular set of choices worked for one person, it doesn’t mean it will work for another. We can’t judge what makes one person happy by what makes someone else happy, who may well have a completely different personality and life experience. These posts or advice givers are wrong to imply that there is one fit all solution to finding happiness in your twenties or otherwise. There is nothing wrong with choosing to go and work in an office as oppose to go travelling, or indeed to do the contrary. Too often than not we feel forced in to following expectations that others set us – there is nothing wrong about not ‘having a plan’. There is nothing wrong with leaving a job because you aren’t happy, or having a career change. There is nothing wrong with being single, or equally being with your first love, if that is what you want. People shouldn’t have to live their lives to the same format – just because one experience or career is done different to another, it doesn’t devalue it.

I suppose, what I am trying to get at here is that success and happiness in life are all relative to the person. One person might see getting out of bed in the morning and getting to work as a big success – others might see climbing a mountain as one. It doesn’t mean we need to value our successes, or indeed our happiness by a scale that involves constantly looking at others and comparing ourselves when our end aims and ambitions may be completely different.  That’s one piece of advice I’d have given to myself 5 years ago – Take advice you are given with a pinch of salt, and only follow it if you think it will make you happy.



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