Thursday, 10 July 2014

Why Twenty-Something Birthdays Will Never Mean As Much

birthday cake image, birthday image, millennials
I've never quite had the natural grace of accepting the generosity of another person. The times I notice this are the obvious, Christmas and my birthday. I generally find it rather awkward, and it can seem as though I'm rather unenthusiastic on the morning of my birthday.

I am blessed, I know that. I'm incredibly lucky and equally grateful that as I turned 24 my life had rid itself of clutter and toxins, and that I had a solid group of people to depend on. In hindsight, my 23rd birthday held no promise. Those months were filled with loss, dishonesty and crippling disappointment. Although I am realistic enough to expect more of it to come my way, I found this birthday easier to deal with.

Maybe it was because I had forgot it was coming, or that I had little excitement over my new found age and wisdom. The more I've learnt, the more harsh about life I become. As a child, we grasp to naivety like we clutch to birthday balloons and we feed on the promise of hope that comes with the day that marks our climb out of wonderland and into the bright lights of the world.

As a child, it was presents and candles. It was jelly and ice cream, and bowls of ready salted crisps. It was party bags and pass the parcel, and getting sellotape caught in your hair. It was all about you, and it was your day. You didn't fear the next day, or calculate how many bills you could pay with a birthday cheque.

You're about to tell me that this is the same for everyone, not just Millennials. You're right. But my mother was only a year older than me when she fell pregnant, and that thought terrifies me. I grew up thinking I'd have it all by my mid-twenties, and I'd have it all figured out. Yet, the only thing I have figured out is how long I can go between bill payments without hate mail landing on my kitchen counter.

Nothing could prepare us for the economical storm and the downpour on our parade. They couldn't prepare us for the gust of wind that blew our expectations into a collected complaint from all Millennials. This isn't another post about how we have it so hard, and how we disregard the bricks and mortar that went into building the careers and fortunes of the generation before us. There's enough of that already.

We pass another year, and we start to wonder what we even have to offer. When do we reach our prime? When are we old or experienced enough to no longer be considered under experienced? At the same time, when do recruiters start looking at our resumes and wondering what we've been doing for all this time?

Source: Tumblr
When do we unmask our fair weather friends, and solidify our long term relationships? We have no idea how long to wait before we're meant to have it all, and each birthday reminds us of how much we have left to do. When will I master the Kardashian contour, and when will I become Instafamous?

In a generation which prides itself on preserving every memory through Instagram opportunities and retweets, all we want to do is live up to the hype. So while we're really sat at home with our hair on top of our heads and a large pizza on our birthday, we feel every pressure to make sure the world thinks otherwise. We need glossy high quality photographs of the birthday everyone thinks we should have, and we need to validate our existence through the digital extensions of ourselves. Cheers to being a Millennial, and here's to the pressures of social media. We're so used to over complicating things. We're used to censoring ourselves, to perfecting the angle and choosing filters that we can't even simplify our own day. We just want to give it away to the world in it's grandest form. So here's some wisdom (and common sense) from me to you: Just stop. Stop doing it, stop living up the the narcissistic stereotype and work on living life's moments instead of forcing them into a box.

Birthdays mark another change. For me, I rarely measure experiences by the New Year. Instead, it's my birthday. They signify a rest stop on the road I've been on, and I often find there's too much regret in the rear view mirror. We need to look ahead, and forget the hands on the clock. We can't allow the idea of time to slow us down, because it itself will never delay. Time is the orchestrator of our greatest fears, and we need to abandon it. 

It's no longer paper plates and balloons, it's extended life lessons and empty bank accounts. Our twenties are the hardest, and Millennials are the ones who have to live out the consequences of the world's economic mistakes. By the time we reach our thirties, we'll have it all memorised. And when our own daughters reach their twenty-something birthdays, they will not be faced with the shock of another year stuck at the bottom of the ladder. We'll have prepared them, and we will have recovered.

Blow out your candles, and make one more wish.