It seems that society becomes more hectic every year we progress. 50 years ago, if you were studying, that was all you needed to focus on. Nowadays, if you want a reasonable job, you need to have multiple degrees, years of work experience and lists of extracurricular activities. Why is it that we make life so hard for ourselves?
In the past few weeks I had to deal with starting a new internship, moving to a new city, working three jobs and maintaining a social life. Maybe some people would call this extreme, but the fact is that I am not the only one who has to juggle so many things at the same time. When I hear stories from friends about how often they have to work full days while also working on school and doing all sorts of volunteering and social activities, it worries me.
What saddens me about this situation, is that it’s mostly people that do not have a lot of financial support from their family who work this hard. The people with well-connected, upper class families have to worry less about making rent this month, while also maintaining high grades to apply for scholarships, and also having a list of extra courses and activities so your resume stands out. Of course, this is a generalization. There are enough people with well-off parents who want to work. But let’s face it: it’s often the people who are financially independent who work all day while the students with money make vlogs in their rooms.
Whenever I speak to people from the older generation, I often hear them exclaim: “Why are you so busy? You’re a student, enjoy it! It’s okay to take 6 years to complete your Bachelor!” I mean, I agree, I wish it was easy to pay for your tuition and rent and groceries without having a job. But at the end of the day, a company will only hire you if you have 6+ years of work experience when you’re 21. Plus, only having a Bachelor is not enough; you can do a Double-Degree! You can be in committees, and go on exchanges and do internships! You can do a Pre-Master, Master, PhD, post-PhD, and then start from Bachelor all over again in a new field! The stress of daily choices that influence your future is overwhelming for young people.
When you realize all this, you start to see why so many just drop everything and start backpacking. Even when you get past your student-time successfully, you roll into an even more stressful world, where your financial faith hangs in the balance of the vague concept of the economy. It’s not crazy that so many people drop dead from heart attacks at the age of 40. Why are we being so hard on ourselves? At the end of the day, it’s us that decide how society works. And we have created a system wherein we are constantly enrolled into a rat race until we retire.
But what do we do then? Start living in a little shack in the Mongolian mountains and herd sheep? While that is my dream, I’m sure most people just want to live in a nice city and do fun stuff with friends. We just need to decide for ourselves if we want to do 23 things at the same time. You have a complete life wherein you can develop and progress. You don’t have to evolve into the best version of yourself within the first 25 years of your life.
I think we all sometimes have to remind ourselves that we live on a space rock, within the immensely small window in which life is possible, while at any moment the universe could call it quits for our little planet. No, life is not meaningless, but it’s good to sometimes forget about expectations and just laugh at what it means to be a functional member of society.