Seeking fulfilment as a twenty-something-year-old
Clare Lewis considers the difficulties of post-uni life and how living up to expectations and social pressure in our twenties can be challenging.
Navigating the real world after emerging from the cushioned life of being a student is a real shock to the system. Whilst you’re reviewing application after application and your peers are landing graduate schemes for major companies, even though you’ve graduated from the same university with the same class degree, it’s easy to feel a little lost along the way. Comparison is a dangerous road to go down, but I felt that my path of progression was so stagnant and, entering the working world amid a global pandemic did not help with feeling overwhelmed. However, with this being said, and with a lot of hours to think whilst commuting, something that I believe it all whittles down to is how you perceive success. In your youth there is such a freedom to develop your independence and intelligence however you see fit; to view your progress not as a mountain to climb but as a limitless project that allows you to grasp onto opportunities that feed into your personal growth. Take a look at the bigger picture and focus on yourself and the things that motivate you. For me, a part of growing up is coming to terms with your sense of self and remaining active in your growth. I knew that my career path was not going to follow the same trajectory as those around me and I’m okay with that, if anything it makes my progression more interesting.
"View your progress not as a mountain to climb but as a limitless project that allows you to grasp onto opportunities that feed into your personal growth."
With this being said, a factor that has allowed me to embrace my own vulnerabilities and find a sense of peace in my career progression is the influence of role models. From childhood, we are all introduced to the idea of a ‘role model’, whether it be your favourite singer or football player, but as I have entered young female adulthood I have found that role models now carry a new type of weight. I define a role model as an individual that positively inspires and empowers, someone whom you can identify with and use a source to help stretch your horizons and, as we are all exposed to innumerable personalities on social media and the internet, we are all enabled to make a choice as to whom we wish to perceive as our role model. Having a familiarity with the women in my field gives me a sense of empowerment, it allows me to build connections with powerful females and become part of a community that is rooted in the empowering languages of female success. Something that I have been fortunate with is reaching out to individuals and asking them to share their experiences which, from asking questions and having informed conversations, has proposed alternative thought processes that I would have otherwise been shut off from. In being exposed to how the correct mindset and behaviors can influence your growth I feel inspired; my motivation and will to succeed have been energised by the vast possibilities that await.
"Having a familiarity with the women in my field gives me a sense of empowerment."
To demonstrate the endless scope of possibility when it comes to sourcing your own role models, I want to shed awareness on a recently discovered one of mine: The Lionesses. I’m not much of a football fan myself and, despite having no real direct correlation with influencing my future career prospects, I have developed such an admiration for these women. Beating Germany and winning the Euros is an accolade that will be remembered for years to come and having done this as a team of women makes it even more monumental. When watching the game and hearing the final whistle blow I remember feeling overcome by the sense of pride and togetherness that I felt with not only the players on the pitch at Wembley but with womanhood. The women’s England football team achieved something so incredible that means so much to so many people. I felt connected with them on a personal level and emotional at the significance of their win, a feeling that I knew I shared with so many. In the game’s aftermath, the team remained in the spotlight for their passion and strive to incite change through their success; their win standing as a personal strike against those that spoke against their achievements and their legacy forever opposing the gendered power imbalances that still exist in all realms of our society. Now I’m not sure about you but I think that pushes them pretty high on the list of people to admire.
All things considered, whilst I continue on my path of progression, remember to have conversations and ask questions that enrich your way of thinking, prioritise your learning and stretch your horizons. Don’t be discouraged by steps back as in the near future there will certainly be steps forward. And, most importantly, build avenues of human connection that enhance your day-to-day and give you the agency to pursue fulfilment within your own life.