I've been listening to a lot of the new Blink-182 lately, which is giving me memories of being a teenager. I've been remembering summer at the house I grew up in – sticky, muggy DC summers, filled with outdoor dinners, days spent in hammocks and nights spent staying out way too late. The more I think about it, the happiest memories I have from my teenage years are ones I spent with my family and my closest friends, where I felt free to be myself away from judgment or pressure to live up to some sort of ideal people set forth for me.
I'm not a teenager anymore, I'm barely in my twenties still, but that's a mindset that I think I need to remember.
On Monday morning, I came across a post one of my friends made on social media recounting an experience she had where someone asked her when she was going to get a "real job." I rolled my eyes, remembering the countless times people used to ask me this. It's a question that suggests that the way you're spending your time and energy is not the acceptable thing. It is a suggestion that you are not successful, because you don't follow the norm. It suggests that you're not trying hard enough, because you might not go to an office or have a salary.
It's also rude as hell to ask someone this – so if you've been asking twenty somethings this recently, I'd stop. We are stressed enough up to our ears with student loans, adult acne and figuring out how to balance grocery shopping, gas money and life in general.
Instead of beating yourself up wondering about "real jobs," here are some good questions to consider;
1. Are you happy?
2. Are you surrounding yourself with positive people, who make you feel good about yourself?
3. Are you eating enough vegetables?
4. Do you feel successful?
5. What's your five year plan?
Whenever I would feel downtrodden about where I was in life, normally after comparing myself to other people who seemed to have it all together – my mom would always ask me these questions. She'd point out that I was young, that I had worked and supported myself through struggles and that it takes time to get to a place where you're comfortable – financially, emotionally and physically.
Instead of focusing on other people's expectations or trying to fit in to a life that you're just not meant to fit into – think about your happiest memories. Think about the times where you felt completely at peace. Think about the people who were around you at those times. Think about what makes you you. It'll help you realize that all the other stuff – the people who are going to ask you when you're going to become a "real adult," the people who you went to college with who seem to have it all together, the people who ask you "how are you going to feel about that tattoo when you're sixty?" – they don't factor into your happiness.
Some days it's hard. Some days you feel downtrodden, defeated and just over it. But hey, take a second to think about how far you've come and remember – you've still got so far to go.