For my birthday this year, I decided very early on that I didn’t want to be in this country and booked to go to Fuerteventura with my family. Partly because I need my annual sunshine fix and partly because I felt I needed an escape.
It has become apparent that as we reach certain ages, different things are expected from us and are considered the norm. For example, in our teens the majority start dating and learn to drive. At 18 many go to university and now I’m in my mid to late twenties, I’ve noticed it is common to have a career, house, be in a long-term relationship or married and/or have a baby. If you don’t meet what is deemed the social norm, you can be left feeling like a failure.
They say in school that all anyone wants to do is fit in. I’ve learnt that this doesn’t stop when we leave; we’re constantly striving to be socially accepted. If you can’t get a boyfriend at school, you’re a loser and in the same vein, if you can’t get or don’t want a job in your twenties you’re a lay about.
Last night, a Saturday evening I was home alone and scanning through my Face Book. The posts included: someone celebrating their wedding day, a couple celebrating their 2 year anniversary, another couple going on their first holiday together, a friend pleased that she had passed her 6 month probation at work, a friend excited to get a job and snaps of my friends child doing something worth cooing at.
Whilst all of that is lovely and I’m genuinely pleased lots of people I know are sharing happy experiences, it got me wondering whether they are in their respective predicaments because they have always dreamed of such things or because they are just trying to meet the social model.
Personally, I have always wanted to keep up with my peers and be like everyone else. Although, on reflection attempting to do this just isn’t right for me. Like most school girls, I was desperate for a boyfriend and was lucky enough to get one. However, I don’t believe I was ready for all it entailed. It was suggested to me that because of my gradual sight loss, I should do my A Levels over 3 years instead of 2. I refused. My grades were fairly good, but could I have done better? At 18, I didn’t go to university like many of my friends, as I think I knew it wasn’t the right time for me. I was 21 when I started my degree with The Open University and 25 when I graduated. Not going to a brick university, studying part-time and at an older age is not the average way to complete a degree, but it was right for me. Now at 27, I do feel like I’ve been left behind, I know I shouldn’t, but I constantly compare myself and my life to others. I long for what others have and yet at the same time know I’m not ready for what they have. I keep telling myself it’s ok to go against the grain and it’s fine that I’m not winning the race. Nevertheless, I can’t get rid of that pang of failure deep within.
It takes a strong person to be different.