I’m 24 and I’d happily retire tomorrow.
For anyone that knows me that’s a shocking statement and very out of character.
I was the girl that was born wanting to go to uni despite it never being expected of me or even mentioned. The girl that did well in her GCSE’s and saw a B as a fail. The girl who wanted a career. The girl, who at the age of 24, struggles to get her cv on to 2 pages due to the sheer volume of volunteer work done in various sectors. The girl who thinks “if you’re not working hard to achieve something then what’s the point?”
I graduated in 2014 and managed to secure a job as a teaching assistant straight away. This was because I’d spent the last few years volunteering at the school that hired me; begging for responsibility and hounding anyone that would listen that I think I could do wonderful things and I should be hired.
Since being employed I’ve done at least one course per year. Now I don’t meant menial CPD courses, where you give up a day and get a free sandwich. I mean full on courses. Dedicate 100 hours of your free time courses. Write essays and have external agencies come to interview you courses. I genuinely think maybe I can’t function without studying? Where has this even come from?
I’ve lived and breathed work and judged anyone who says they’d quit work if they won the lottery. What even are you if you don’t have a job? Is life even worthwhile?
In the three years I’ve been working since graduation I’ve had various promotions, title changes and pay rises. And of course I’ve always had a “next stage” and plan in mind. You always need a goal right?
I’m 24 and I have my own office within a secondary school despite not being a qualified PGCE teacher. I teach students with special needs. I’ve recently completed a course on speech, language and communication and am constantly researching this as my area of specialism. It is my goal to train every member of the school in this by July and I know I will achieve this. I have such a huge enthusiasm for Work and literally will agree to do anything anyone asks. This has meant I’ve made great things happen, things I can be proud of.
I used to love waking up everyday and going to work. Summer holidays were awful. I didn’t know who I was if I wasn’t working.
But now I’m 24 and I’m done. I feel exhausted and tired and no amount of free time or half terms feels like a holiday. And I know I’m not the only twenty something to feel like this. I’m not the only twenty something to be signed off work with stress, depression, anxiety etc.
When we’re not at work there’s the need to always be doing something cool. Something worthy of a boomerang. Something worthy of a cool photo to hashtag to reel in the likes. Drinks at a cool bar you can check in to. Dinner at the coolest new pop up restaurant. And when you’re sat there at home – alone – you can watch everyone else’s glamorously edited social life on the latest phone that is glued to your hand at all times. Look at how much fun everyone else is having. They mustn’t need down time?
Social media has brought this desire and need to be perfect 24/7. And for those of us with anxiety that are already born with this innate desire to succeed and achieve in everything we do, this add on is crippling.
So we save our money to pay for an all inclusive week away to Spain where we can recharge and read our kindle with a crappy watered down cocktail. But the cycle continues. And where does it end?
I’m 24 and I’m burnt out.