The sentence that comes after this one is the truth, it has not been written for the sake of having dramatic effect, nor is it meant to have some kind of deep, meaningful value.
One day, I quite literally woke up and realised time was getting away from me. I could’ve sworn I was sixteen only yesterday, fighting my parents to let me stay out late and dreaming of the kind of person I wanted to be when I finally became an ‘adult’.
I pictured my life would be no different to what I saw on social media of young girls in their twenties brunching with friends, having complete financial independence and spending long weekends abroad every month. I pictured creating a life which was stable, filled with love and where I had made my family utterly proud. After all, they had sacrificed their own successes in the hopes that I would make something of myself. This particular aspect of my vision was non-negotiable as it was paired with a deep sense of guilt and fear that had set up a comfortable camp in the back of my mind.
The reality of my ‘adult’ life was rather different. The day I woke up trying to clench on to time, is also the day I realised my life was nowhere near what I wanted it to be when I was sixteen and longing to be a grown up. I had followed all the steps that society says we should take; I completed university, settled for the first job I was offered and trying to become accustomed to the 9-5 lifestyle. My days were filled with scanning papers, getting coffee and counting down the hours left until I could go home and binge on Netflix. I was still deep in my overdraft, most of my salary paid for my commute to and from my miserable job, and the 9-5 lifestyle meant there was no time for brunching or long weekends away. This led me to a state of deep hibernation, functioning on autopilot mode and living completely like a robot. I was questioning my values, what I wanted from life and whether I would ever reach the goals I had set for myself. I decided to quit my job and take the time I needed to figure out what I wanted. Although this gave my some sort of momentary relief, the one question that was constantly haunting me now was, ‘what will others say?’
I hate to admit that, but it’s true. At the time, the fact that others may look down on my decision or gossip about me being unemployed and not ‘having my life together’ was terrifying me. The norm was to settle for a job and work your way up. But I hated my job, and I did not want to work my way up working in an industry I was not passionate about for even a moment longer. During this period of hibernation, my battle with time intensified. As the days continued to slip through my clenched fingers, I felt like I was wasting more and more of my time and letting my sixteen year old self down.
A year later and even deeper in my twenties, I can safely say that I no longer give a flying rat’s a** what others may think, say or gossip. I have learnt that societal norms will always exist, but so will our ability to look past them and think for ourselves. Modern life is looking more and more different these days, so, if I chose to take some time to figure out my life and I knew what will bring me closer to the image I once had of myself as an adult, then I am at peace with that.
However, my battle with time continues as the self inflicted pressure of making the most of my youth before it is forever gone constantly consumes me. On one hand, I have the deep desire to make something of myself as soon as I possibly can-and that means avoiding yet another hibernation process- whilst on the other, I want to make sure I’m having fun being young and careless! I feel like there is so much I want to achieve before I’m 30 and the thought is so overwhelming that it almost paralyses me. How is it even possible to want so many things and to want them in such a short amount of time? What makes this even more terrifying, is the fact that no matter how hard you try to cling on to time, it continues to fly by.
As time continues to run away whilst I scream and chase after it, our race has taught me something. Societal norms and time go hand in hand. Even though there is no rule book that says you must achieve certain things by a certain age, or that you must ‘make the most’ of your time whilst you are young, these perceptions will always be held by those around us. They will even inhabit the back of your own mind, pushing you to analyse your every move. Am I having as much fun as I should be? Am I moving at an amicable speed to achieve all of my goals? I should go out more. I should stop spending so much time alone.
But, at the end of the day, if me spending time alone is bringing me peace in that moment and it means I am enjoying myself, then I think that is me making the most of my time. So, what I’m trying to say is this…time is always going to move at a speed we feel is faster than us. Stop trying to chase it. Stop trying to live by societal standards. If you are enjoying your life in ways that are more simple, such as reading a good book or taking time to relax alone, then you are making the most of your time.
After all, time enjoyed is not time wasted.