August 20, 2012

Do What You Love: Retirement, Stickybeaks & the Information Revolution

As the result of a few weeks of thought, and something that has been building up inside of me for many years, the following words should almost definitely be taken with a grain of salt - they're idealistic and hopeful (with a teensy pinch of realism), but it's the way I like to think about my world. I'm so aware of the fact that plans don't always work out, and people have to make sacrifices in order to keep going, but that's not the point of this series. It's an encouragement to everyone out there to pursue something that intrigues or fascinates them, that they are passionate about and that gets them excited when it pops up in conversation, even if it's something as small as enjoying a daily cup of coffee.

Taken from my Pinterest

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I know that myself and many of my friends, by the age of 14 or 15, felt like we had to know what we were going to do with our lives, but we also felt like we were too young to do anything of substance because whenever we talked about it or attempted to start something, it was met by incredulity from the older generations. I can't even begin to explain the feelings of confusion that that combination of pressure and lack of support brings.

Since graduating from high school, the pressure only seems to have mounted, with many more people coming out of the woodwork to make your life their business - they question your choices and your life plans (or lack thereof). They ask you when you're going to move out, what age you want to have bought a house & committed yourself to a crippling mortgage because apparently that's a necessity. They want to know how many kids you want, why you aren't in a long term committed relationship yet, and what your plans are for retirement.

You see friends and peers coming into their own, declared at the ripe old age of 19 or 20 to be a success or failure and, wait what? Back up! You want me to start thinking about retirement??

As a kid who is beginning to realise that these people can all f**k off because I know what's right for me and I'll stick to my guns, I've been thinking a lot about what the factors are that almost force kids into feeling the need to stop being kids by the already traumatic age of 14 to consider the options that will lead them to old age and a life of regrets at all the missed opportunities. 

Looking back, I can see that most of these feelings, because let's face it there's always been those frustrating stickybeaks, comes down to the Information Revolution. From so young an age we as Gen Y have been exposed to more information than we can even begin to comprehend. We know that anything we want to know about can be found with minimal effort - a few words typed into google and something should surface sooner or later - but more often than not it just leaves us feeling lost, overwhelmed and not knowing where to begin.

Add to this that we are, and always have been, constantly bombarded with information by the media, for a lot of us all day every day, and our prospects of living out our time as contented laid-back kids goes from bad to worse. Facebook, magazines, news sites, celebrity gossip, advertisements - these things are all part of our daily routine, and more often than not, they are telling us what we need to do or who we need to be like. 

Combine this utter bombardment with being questioned over our retirement plans before we even have a chance to get a steady job, and it's easy to feel like there is no way out. So how on earth do we overcome the confusion, sort through the information, ignore the stickybeaks and get on with our lives as we choose?

The answer to this is something that I'm still working on, but seeing as I am already responsible for encouraging an awful lot of kids to pursue the path that they want to instead of the one that will lead them to a well-paying job that's respectably high strung, I suppose I shall just continue along that line.


I've been in well paid jobs and been praised by all the nosy people out there for my good sense, but felt miserable, and I've been in jobs doing what I love that pay not enough to afford even my coffee addiction and been heavily criticised for it, and yet have felt content and secure in myself and in my decisions. Not to say that well paid jobs can't be enjoyable or even the right path, but just that if that well paid job is the one that makes you happy, then consider yourself lucky.

So, by all means talk to people that you trust about any plans that you may have**, whether you feel heavily convicted to follow them, they're just vagaries in the back of your mind or they're yet to even surface and your life plan, at the moment, is a blank canvas. Their ideas and input are often invaluable, and these are generally the people who will also encourage you to follow your own convictions. But for heaven's sake, if all they're interested in is how much money they expect you to be earning or what car you want to buy when you have a mid-life crisis, then run! Or maybe offer to take them out for a drink and use the chance to question them about their dream careers as a kid and encourage them to rekindle that flame...

Taken from my Pinterest


**I'd highly recommend grandparents or friends you can make while volunteering in nursing homes. While some of them are as nosy as they get, many have lived long enough to realise that it is okay to take life slowly, not to mention they'll tell you fantastic tales of all the mischief they got up to over the course of their lives that will bring laughter, tears & joy, plus the all important realisation that there is plenty of time to find your place in this wonderful little world of ours.


Madre said...

I love this - the poster reminds me of growing up on the farm with no TV and lots of time to contemplate - pack some sandwiches and a thermos of tea and wander barefoot over the river to have a picnic and pick wildflowers. Better still - find a hidden spot on the river bank and watch the river creatures at play (like Wind in the Willows). It certainly is different now days with the information overload.

Jess F said...

Soo agree with everything you've said, Rhi :)

sonia de macedo said...

This is so beautiful. You've completely made my morning gorgeous! It's so true we are constantly bombarded with so much information it's practically ruined us in terms of expectations and those sticky beaks! Urgh how I hate them especially when you reach 26 - at this age EVERYONE expects you to have it figured out, to be married or at least in a relationship, high paying job and out of home... Yikes! I am none of the above and LOVING IT! <3


Ms. Cathy said...

Hey Rhi! Just wanted to reach out to you and tell you about my giveaway (Sephora!!) Enter if you want a shot and loving this feature you've got. Super inspiring like always.

Cathy Trails


Emma Vidmar said...

thank you for this post. It's really elegantly written and gets me thinking. I often worry about my attachment to the constant stream of information, and like you said, sometimes it's been hard to know where to start with so much available to is. More importantly i appreciate that you are willing to tell people blatantly and honestly that money and material goods mean nothing if you are not happy. It's an age old concept but when put so well, it seems to ring a little more true. I went through a similar phase in my life where i realized that i had to choose something where i would enjoy my work, which has left me in school studying art with still three years to go, and happy as i have ever been.

again, thank you for this post. I appreciate it more than i can say.