People develop at different rates. It happens as a child. It’s happened throughout history. It happened when you were fifteen and everyone was busy discovering drugs, booze and sex were a thing while you stuck to reading Harry Potter books by lamplight. If you’re in your early twenties, there’s a good chance it’s happening right now. In a different context, of course.
It occurs to you when you least expect it to. You look around one day and realize that the yardsticks by which we measure our own lives are different now. The game has changed. It’s no longer a hastily etched scoreboard of hook-ups and vomit-free streaks. They’ve been traded in for their grown-up counterparts. Suddenly, you know what everyones annual salary is. How much leave they’ve accumulated, what they plan on doing with it, and just what they really think of their boss. Career talk becomes the new conversation fodder, people plan for the future. Real estate is all of a sudden a fascinating concept, and those schoolyard days seem nothing more than an entirely distant memory.
It’s a completely new paradigm – and when you’re taking your first steps into, it can be downright horrific. You’re left to look at your own bank account with a slight frown – same goes for the rapidly mounting student debts you’re accumulating, as you stare down the barrel at another unpaid internship. That’s when it rises to the surface. That nagging question that seems to hover permanently in some corner of your mind for the majority of your post-adolescent years. Will I ever get there?
Is that transition from moderately okay teenager to moderately successful adult something that will ever actually occur? Or have I stumbled at the starting blocks and am now forever doomed to live out my days in the doldrums of a low income bracket, casual employment, and the constant stench of being entirely average?
It can be so easy to compare yourself to the people around you – so easy that that it is often forgotten that while we might share a species, each of us is on a very different path. Some are easy, some aren’t. Some are paved with missteps and mistakes, and some aren’t. The differences in the way that we chose to move toward our own tomorrows are what makes the human condition such a wonderful thing to witness. You’re not the same person as the person next to you, and that’s a fantastic thing.
Success will come. It might not come in the way you’d expect it to, and it might not come when you need it to, but rest assured, one morning you’ll open your eyes and it will be there. In its own way. Small or large, a victory is a victory and it’s one that should always be celebrated. The strangest thing about growing up is that initial epiphany that no matter how many people you might call friends, no matter how close they might be, there are still times when you are in this life thing entirely for yourself.
So take heart in those small victories and know that you came to them entirely on your own, and hey, maybe adulthood isn’t as terrifying as it first seemed.
How does one in their early twenties actually define success? Is it a financial thing? Has a brilliant career opened up in front of you? Are you in a committed and fulfilling relationship? I tick none of those boxes, but I’ve been feeling pretty fantastic with life lately. It’s becoming more and more apparent to me that success is an entirely malleable term, and one that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. So what does it actually mean then? To attain success?
If you can wake up in the morning and get out of bed to start the new day, if you do something that makes you smile, if you surround yourself with the good kinds of people then congratulations. You’ve made it.
Words by HARRISON CARTWRIGHT, who thinks that success means paying all the bills and still having money for both Topman & ASOS sprees.