A couple of weeks back my friend and I attended a media preview of “On The Basis Of Sex”, a movie based on Ruth Bader Ginburg’s 1970’s court cases where she fought against sexual discrimination. While the movie was pretty even in tone (spoiler: it won’t keep you on the edge of your seat) it was incredibly moving. And by moving I mean Kelsey and I both left the theatre in tears. But honestly how could you not? This woman completely changed the course of history – paving the way for females to work, live and thrive in society.
While I left the movie with new found motivation, it also left me with a sinking feeling. In a world where possibilities are supposedly endless, what was I doing that was worth a damn? And then it hit me: the sudden realisation that the answer is, ding ding ding, nothing.
Fast forward two weeks and I’m still very much in this mood. In this time, I’ve managed to mess up things at work (in my very ‘non-important’ role that doesn’t help the world), have a couple of rough nights with alcohol induced “blind spots” and get myself deeper into a mess that I don’t know how remove myself from cleanly. Anxiety has re-introduced me to insomnia, and I’ve pressed mute on the inner voice telling me “everything is going to be okay”. So why does this feel like a very mid-twenties problem?
Well, I met up with my high school friends Abbie and Grace last Saturday for brunch and the answer became a little clearer.
Vergegirl Top (Similar Here & Here)
Scanlan Theodore Pants (Similar Here)
Zara Beaded Bag (Similar Here)
In the years since leaving high school we have all taken similar, yet very different paths. Grace started university, only to leave and have a 2-year stint living in London as a Nanny before returning to finish her degree. Abbie and I both finished our degrees in Wellington and ended up moving to Auckland for work. I then split off and went travelling (I know, YOU KNOW) and Abbie moved to Amsterdam a little later with the company she still works for. Yet, last Saturday we were all back in Auckland drinking coffee like nothing had changed, repeating the same mantra:
“I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing”
My theory? We are a generation stuck in limbo, as part of Gen Y and on the cusp of Gen Z. It’s as though we’re supposed to live up to the societal standards of a time so distant from memory, while adopting a new age work ethic and understanding. On top of this, at 25 so many opportunities are now available to us that we don’t know where to start. A kind of weird in-between age where we are both admired and rejected no matter what we choose to do. We go by instinct more than logic because there’s no longer a ‘normal’ path to go down.
I’ll be first to admit that my perception lately had been a little skewed. Sometimes I feel like I’ve got life under control: everything with friends is great, works going well and I feel organised. Then all it takes is a bad night out drinking to unravel it all. In my mind, my daily success is often overshadowed by the stupid comment I made when I was drunk. Queue me, trawling Air New Zealand’s website for escape flights while the regret sinks in. Maybe it’s because I can see other people’s success so readily (AKA everyone looks like they’ve got their shit together online) or maybe it’s because I’ve always set high standards for myself. Either way, a little slip like this makes me feel like shit. And if you were wondering where I was going with this, it’s at this point that I feel like I can’t do anything right.
So why am I so stressed about a silly comment? Because let’s be real – whatever I said drunk will be forgotten only a day later. Well I attribute it to the fact that I have no idea what I’m meant to be doing, and nothing I do feels like it has much value. Then I go an embarrass myself to make matters feel worse. Do you think people would forgive Ruth Bader Ginsburg for getting a little tipsy at a party when she was fighting for equal rights in court? Hell yes. Some random blonde graphic designer that’s white girl wasted? Not so much. And so therein lies the problem – at 25 I don’t feel like I’m doing anything particularly important with my life, so my mistakes feel magnified.
So what’s the fix? How do we know we are doing the right thing?
I have no idea, and maybe that’s the point.
My friends and I have all achieved so much at a relatively young age: finished a university degree, travelled, worked and are completely self-sufficient. On paper we’ve done so much in the past 5 years. But last Saturday we all sat in the same position, planning a big change, but not sure whether it’s worth taking the risk. Will it feel like we’ve given up, or made a choice? Will it make life harder down the road? When will it feel like we’re in the right position?
Maybe the problem here is that we are so self-critical that we forget where we’ve come from. Because of people like Ruth Bader Ginsburg we are lucky enough to live in a time where women have the freedom to try different paths, fuck up royally and tell the tale via a cleverly crafted social media meme. We are no longer expected to lead a predictable life of marriage and kids like our parents were. Success is no longer only measured by how much money you have or what position in a company you are. And even though we aren’t necessarily making big waves like she did, maybe enjoying the freedom she fought for is the most important way to honour it.
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