At only 19, I’m too young to feel like I’m a failure, but I can’t help this insidious feeling that creeps up on me when I lie in bed at night thinking about my future. In just a few weeks I will turn twenty and if I am honest with myself I am more hesitant than excited about exiting my teenage years. All I can see is a clock ticking down and down through my youth, time slipping away where I could have been achieving my dreams or goals but haven’t until it’s too late. And, apparently, I’m not the only one who feels like this.
Recently, a twitter thread by artist Samantha Marsh went viral when she critiques the internet culture of ‘racing to success’ that leads to people in their mid-twenties being seen as old.
Youth "race to success" culture is wild, the fact that I am 26 and called "older"/"established" or made out to be an "art mom" makes me want to lay down and go to sleep. Y'all have to stop acting like everything you'll ever do will be done in your 20s.
— Samantha Mash? (@anamericanghost) January 25, 2018
It’s difficult for people my age when we see so many achieving massive success at younger and younger ages, with social media and YouTube opening up jobs that previously didn’t exist, or providing platforms that fast-track access to other types of careers, it’s hard to ignore all the 16-year-old entrepreneurs or 19-year-old movie stars that are being praised every time we open the internet.
That’s not to say these people doing great things as teens or young adults don’t deserve the success or praise, but that we as a culture need to stop putting pressure on ourselves to achieve the same things at the same age. As the tweet thread above suggests, it’s not likely that we will achieve all our goals before we hit 25, and we don’t need to.
Your worth shouldn’t come from how quickly you reach your dreams or how young you are when you find yourself successful. Whether you achieve your goals at 16 or 60 you should be proud. All this pressure to make something of ourselves is, at least for me, stopping me from fully enjoying my youth in the way I’m meant to.
From now on I am making a promise to myself that I will stop comparing what I achieve to those I see thriving online, I will stop cursing myself for not being on a trajectory to be completely successful before I hit mid-twenties.
I will remind myself that the imaginary clock I see ticking down is simply that, imaginary, and I will do my best to ignore the nagging feeling of failure that will emerge now and then. I hope maybe some of you reading this will join me in making this promise.