How does it feel to be part of a class that is known to be notoriously self-focused, procrastinate inevitable adulthood and have a devastatingly insatiable appetite for change? These sweeping generalisations don’t help either. As I killed time this week at an office job (I loath), I binge watched TED talks. This is nearly as detrimental as listening to the 4-Hour Work Week at your desk, which I did during my first week of work at a real office job on Wall Street one week after graduating university. Something that has come up in multiple TED talks are topics like “How 30 is not the new 20“, and we should not be procrastinating our lives asking for more time to soul search or explore our career options or partners. Or the traits of a healthy relationship, somehow can be matched to if you smiled in pictures as child and you should also be able to find a great person, not the perfect person.
The irony of all of this guidance aimed at our peer group is that we are living products of what was created. We got gold stars in school, so we strive for all gold stars. We were told we can be whoever we want, and when we don’t get it, we are left unsatisfied, in our cubicle on Wall Street or in Oxford Circus, going home where are schedules are loosely dictated by TiVo. We can create our images and morph them as we see fit, yet we are constantly recreating ourselves in real life each day as we are influenced by the millions of images we see of friends in cooler places, of ex lovers and their new lovers, of inspiring quotes printed over images which really at the end of the day, leave us wanting more beautiful things to look at from the windows of our life. We are a generation which has accumulated more debt and come in to the world at a time of war and poor economics and been told we are the group who doesn’t work enough and are unsatisfied with life.
The truth about that first sentence is that it hurts because it is a bit true. In some small truth or another. I made a list of things to accomplish when I was 8, and I recently ticked off the last one. Now what? I moved across the world for someone and they want to move? Now where? I am not rich, but I make more than I need and still feel like so much of the world is out of my reach, so what do I have left? I had a conversation with my darling today. She put it in a way I thought made sense, atleast it may for some of us. “We are taught to be independent and when things settle or we have someone we can lean on, we don’t know what to do.” It is hard to break the drive, to put on brakes when we get close to those things we were raised to aim for. In love and life. The perfect mate. The job. The friends. When do you stop? The key is identifying the difference between satisfaction and gratitude. I think most people can collectively say they are grateful, we are grateful, for the fruits of life. But we are still left searching for the meat.
We want to be satisfied, and not being able to be satisfied is a big worry. Envying those who have purchased furniture for their place they plan to stay in, or making commitments a year in advance, or being able to see yourself old next to the person you are in bed with, finally unpacking.
This song spoke to me for that. The opening verse, the way I interpreted it, says all of this, more eloquently put. But it is hard to sort yourself out, it’s hard to talk about it when the problems we face and are struggling to understand are what we are generalised to be like and worry about. Thinking of our personal journey, thinking of our personal satisfaction. Wanting more.
“It’s complicated when you gravitate towards yourself
On the other hand it’s hard to talk to anyone else
You can’t help, can’t help where your mind goes”