Challenging The Norms Associated With Adulting

Just a simple Google search of “lifetime milestones” renders articles telling us when we should tick off certain stages in life, such as marriage and having children.  Amigo Loans, a lending company, even carried out a survey of 2,000 adults aged 16-65 and came up with this infographic

Admittedly, we have all been conditioned to consider attaining such milestones at certain ages as the “norm” – whether it be through children’s books, schooling or TV and films (especially rom-coms). However, in reality it is virtually impossible to fulfill every single one of these goals that are so widespread in the Western world.  Nobody’s life is perfect.  Daring to be different, going against the norm and learning from our mistakes is what makes our lives rewarding – not making sure you buy a first car at 22 and a second home at 36.

I particularly enjoyed The Tab’s typically satirical article on this matter, which claims that after retirement we will spend the rest of our lives lamenting unaccomplished milestones and “contemplating the emptiness of the universe”. Check it out here

Furthermore, Twitter user Angry Flat Cap responded to the infographic made by Amigo Loans with his own more realistic rendition.  Defeatist at times, but undoubtedly accurate:

I would also like to debunk some of the stereotypes myself:

  • Buying a car: in a world increasingly threatened by pollution and global warming, shouldn’t we consider using public transport or avoiding vehicles altogether?
  • Buying one’s own place: from personal experience, I can confirm that living alone is what it says on the tin – lonely.  Flat shares are so much more fun.  Rather than just looking after yourself, you learn to care for other people.  Cooperation and compromise are vital aspects of being human – not gaining capital.
  • Getting married: firstly, the institution of marriage is becoming obsolete in our ever-more atheist country. Secondly, if you do wish to marry, you should not impose an age limit on yourself. Age is irrelevant when it comes to true love.
  • Having children: this shouldn't be a given in life – we need to be in sound emotional and physical health ourselves first (which, according to recent studies, is far from the case for many people).  Adopting a child or simply being a devoted aunt or uncle are other ways of bringing happiness to a child’s life and should not be considered as abnormal, inferior or failure.

I admit that I am a skeptic and would like to express my admiration for the people who do have such goals in life and gain happiness through completing them.  Nevertheless, we should not consider these milestones as the only way of improving our life satisfaction. Indeed, there are many other ways of achieving in life.  I would like to promote those deemed as altruistic acts rather than selfish gain – such as talking to strangers, charity work, caring for others and being eco-friendly.

 We need to stop judging our lives according to society’s expectations and start doing what makes us – and, equally as important, those around us – happy. Acting out of fear of loneliness or striving to gain capital are not the key to contentment.  Get off social media, stop spending frivolously and start making a real difference to the world.  Our lifetime objectives should be kindness, good health and love – for ourselves and those around us.  Cheesy, but true.



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