Our generation are unique. We are faced with a mass of opportunities that our parents and grandparents most likely did not have. However, as a result, we also have a complete inability to settle down. We are starting our careers, getting married, moving out, buying houses and finishing education later and later. Does our lack of ‘settledness’ mean that by age thirty we are the equivalent of our parents at the age of twenty in their day?
A survey by wedding planning agency Bridebook showed that, while, in 1970 the average age for a first marriage was twenty two, it is now thirty for women and thirty two for men. The rise of the single-in-your-thirties cult- shown by hit films such as Bridesmaids, Bridget Jones and Sex and The City- increasingly resonates with all audiences because it is more current than ever. The fear of being single in your thirties faced by Bridget while dinner partying with ‘smug married couples’ in 2001 is, arguably, morphing further away from the exception towards the rule. In the 1960’s, the average age of the first time home buyer was twenty five and they only had to wait three years before being able to move up the property ladder. Now, the average age of a first time buyer is thirty, but don’t worry; you’ll only have to wait twelve years before being able to move to something bigger. Our inability to settle is not just exclusive to our family lives, with an estimation that we will change career paths between five and seven times.
Why is the act of ‘settling down’ becoming more elusive for twenty-somethings? As a general rule, more choice for us in our romantic, work and family lives is a good thing. However, I would argue that if anything, we have too much choice, too many opportunities open to us: all displayed with robustness on our social media feeds. We become uncertain about our life choices because of the perfect lives that are advertised to us every day, not only by celebrities, but by our friends who seemingly have lives oh-so-much better than our own. As a result, we cannot settle down because we are constantly chasing that ideal life that cannot and will not exist. Our chase for the perfection thrown in our faces on a daily basis prevents us from setting the bar too low but could also have us reaching for unobtainable heights: with happiness and contentedness just out of sight. Perhaps, then, it is our inability- or refusal- as a generation to compromise on perfection which has turned 30 into the new 20.
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