Since graduating from university, I have found myself entering a terrifying limbo between student and young professional that I term ‘the twenty-something predicament’. This position, occupied by so many other graduates my age, leaves you feeling younger and almost more naive than when you were innocently panicking about what colour cutlery you should buy for the start of university. It’s the dawning realisation that there is no longer a logical next step planned ahead for you, and the even scarier realisation that you will now be viewed by other people as an ‘adult’.
Yet this ‘adulting’ still feels like you’re trying on a jumper that is two sizes too big, and you find yourself still looking for an older, more adulty adult to tell you what to do and how to do it.
You feel like an inbetweener; suspended between the student life of daytime napping and week day hangovers and the adult life of council tax and responsibility.
Arguably, the scariest realisation after graduating is the prospect of working a low paid 9-5 job that is far from the exciting career you had in mind. You begin to panic when family members and old school friends ask you the dreaded question:
‘So, what are you doing now?’
At first you try to justify your low paid admin job with ramblings of travelling and saving plans, in an attempt to convince the questioner (and yourself), that this job is only temporary, and that you haven’t spent near to 2 and a half months trolling through countless job sites to find that perfect graduate opportunity.
Even when you do apply for these graduate jobs, or get as far as an interview, you find yourself hearing echoes of:
‘You don’t have enough experience’.
This encapsulates the endless paradox faced by all young people looking for work – you need experience to get experience. Throughout school, it is drilled into you that you need to get GCSE’s in order to get A Levels, in order to get to university and get a degree. However, no one prepares you for the reality of the working world, where well paid jobs often require both a decent degree and bags of experience. The result? Herds of inexperienced graduates with first class degrees stumbling into the world of work, often unable to bag themselves a basic office job let alone a permanent graduate opportunity.
You soon realise that your degree does not land you with an amazing job straight out of uni, but that you need to work your way up the job ladder just like everyone else. It leaves you feeling as though you are not quite ready to fill the shoes of the ‘young professional’ role, especially when just a few months ago you were eating supernoodles out of a pan in your onesie at 2.35 on a Wednesday afternoon.
And that is the twenty-something predicament; the quarter life crisis; the ‘what on earth am I doing now’ scenario.