Future Anxiety: Why am I already worried about 2015?

It’s 2015, time to write my first post of the new year, and I’m already tying myself in mental knots of trepidation about the future (Nothing new there, I never learn). I can see the future looming ahead of me, and I seem to have gotten into the bad habit of creating cynical predictions for myself…

I’ve seen much evidence for a stage in life the begins around my age (20 years) and continues upwards of a decade for the majority of this generation, a stage defined by career prospects. Or more to the point, a severe lack of them. I fear that we are designated bottom-rung-of-the-ladder lackey jobs that only serve to please the boss-goblins, forcing us to grovel until we are handed the rope to the next step (promotions etc.). And why are we so eager to throw ourselves to our knees to stroke the higher-ups? Living standards. Crappy job usually equals crappy pay, and that means making financial sacrifices, often to the extent that happiness is a mere façade smeared across our faces in the morning, so the mirror can cheat us into believing that struggling to pay bills, let alone ‘having nice, good quality things that don’t break’ is okay. We’re muddling through, “I don’t have hot water sometimes/I can’t afford to do my weekly shop anywhere but at Lidl/I have to rely on shitty public transport to get to my unsatisfying job,” sure, it’s character building, it’s life experience. Bullshit. 

Hmmm… Perhaps we’re too used to the cushy life though? Is the provision I’ve taken for granted during childhood raised my expectations too high? There’s a chance I’m hoping for too much, too soon, as a fresh-faced postgrad. Plus, most of us are catapulted from our parents’ home eyes shining, only to crawl from university, begging for something, anything to help us shoulder the Atlas-worthy burden of debts. So we’ll take the shittiest job thrown our way. Sure, make us miserable so we piss away our hopes and dreams, falling back on a life dominated by the wait for the weekend (or whenever we get days off). And to me, that kind of lifestyle is so frighteningly wrong, I don’t want to earn my lifestyle by enduring a miserable job. You have to do what you love, what impassions you – and the passionate people, who are educated in their aspiring field, are usually the people with the best new, game-changing ideas.

But alas and alack, the brightest, most enthusiastic young things have their faces pushed right back down into the dirt before they’ve really had a chance to cop a look at the stars, let alone reach for them. A fat-cat hand might be offered to you if you’re lucky. Ah but remember, nothing is for free, really, – “You’ll have to work your way up from here kid.” Then there’s the smug grin, blood-soaked gold leaking between eager canines, acting to chisel the message THAT YOU ARE LESS THAN POND-SCUM (even though you’ve just worked your little arse off to gain the credentials to serve in the workplace anyway) all the more deeply into your young, influential mind.

By God do I want to work, and work hard, but I want a few grains of success in return, even if they’re simply rewards in the form of open opportunities and open-minded employers. I don’t expect to be handed my working life on a golden platter, but I do yearn for more open doors when I leave university, and hopefully an absence of a bloodbath between myself and future ‘competition’ in order to prove our worth. I can’t think of anything more soul-destroying than hard work that amounts to nothing, or having to grind your peers into the dust to do well.

But could I be over-analysing? I know I usually put my all into my work, I’m a diligent perfectionist, and what’s more, a friend of mine often reminds me of a philosophy she lives by that has served her well – ‘everything happens for a reason’. Such negative anticipation isn’t 100% prophetic. I can’t control every outcome of my life, but that doesn’t mean I have to stop dreaming of fulfilling my wildest dreams. It’s all about striking a balance between wanting to be successful, and being sufficiently okay with failure in order to learn and move onwards (and hopefully upwards). It might be all okay. And even if it’s not, and I fall prey to a long line of glorious fuck-ups, I’m confident that I’ll have the strength to keep going, because my dreams are more potent than the pain and disheartenment brought by failure.

So, my news resolution could likely be to set fire to my anxieties about the years to come, and laugh whilst the burn. In fact, right now, I want to make a pledge to throw myself whole-heartedly into experiencing the here and now, with every bodily cell, breath and heartbeat. The destination is the ultimate motivation, and should be always kept in your sights, but you have to enjoy and learn from the journey that gets you there.

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