Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

“Being someone” feels like the most important thing when you’re in your 20s. No longer at the age where we can hide under our parents’ rules, waiting for our lives to start. Right out of the gate we want to feel important, we want to feel as if we matter on a larger scale that exists outside of high school.

I mean it makes sense; high school definitely wasn’t how they painted it in the movies, but it was for the most part our “world”. You found your identity in the sport you played or the club you were in. Maybe you were popular or more to yourself. You could have been an artist, an athlete or something in between. Whatever you were, you had a label that you gave yourself. It was a community, where gossip travelled quickly and the new kids stuck out. It was all we knew.

Now, out of nowhere, we are thrown into this strange world where everyone is the new kid. No one is taking time out of their day to categorize you, and professors will rarely ever remember your name. All of the sudden, you are thrown into this real-world reality that can make you feel really small.

It can also be really exciting. It’s a chance to explore new interests, find new friends and have a fresh start. Somehow though, that feeling of freedom is equally matched with a part of you longing to get that sense of identity back. Being in your 20’s is already confusing; being in your 20’s in the 2020s can feel stressful.

The age of social media adds a whole new element. We live, breathe and crave this social interaction that exists on an online platform. A platform designed to only show the best of people.

Consistently bombarded with headlines and captions of this “16-year-old supermodel”, “15-year-old TikTok star on the rise”, “22-year-old donates $3,000 to cancer research” or even a “young couple married with three kids and starting their own business”. While seeing others achieve their dreams is never a bad thing, it paints a narrative over time, giving the appearance that everyone else is ahead and in comparison, you are behind.

I have very big dreams for myself, dreams that probably won’t begin to shape until my 30s if I’m lucky. Currently, my existence summed up includes failing to get even close to eight hours of sleep a night, counting my change for coffee and always being behind in assigned readings. Long story short, I am definitely not the person donating $3,000 to cancer research.

I had an honest conversation with my friend the other night about where we were at in life. I always look at them like they’re ten times further ahead in life than I am. However, in this conversation, they told me their truth which in summary was “I have no idea what I’m doing and constantly feel like as more months pass by my dreams are slipping away”. That conversation shook me. At first, I didn’t understand how I was supposed to feel okay with my life when this person who is so far ahead of me feels so down on their own. Then my thought shifted to the bigger question of why. Why at 20 years old do we feel the need to have our lives mapped out and handled? Why is it that we feel like we are wasting away instead of building to something better? Why does everything need to be right now?

I remember when I was in high school, all I wanted was to be right where I am now. Truthfully, there is not one aspect of my current university experience that is not exactly how high school me wished for it to be (okay well maybe a little more money in the bank). Now I have it, and it’s not enough.

While I do not blame social media as the sole responsibility, I do believe it plays a large part in this feeling. There’s not one person around me, from roommates to friends, to boyfriend or to peers that feel like they have life figured out and set. Yet we all feel like we’re failing even though we’re remotely at the exact same place as everyone around us. The people we compare ourselves to on social media, for the most part, are not even living the lives we want. They simply feel more successful because they’re not where we are.

I often forget how hard I worked to be where I am right now. I can’t remember how stressed I was for years to get the right grades for the right schools. I can’t leave out all the university fairs, research, campus tours and money spent to be where I currently am. This was the dream I worked for, for so long. However now, whether it’s because I am surrounded by thousands of others who did the same thing or because it’s not being blown up on social media as being “successful”, I don’t feel that same sense of gratification. Overall, it goes to show that while we think the narrative is, “I’m not successful enough”, the message is actually “I want what I do not have”. I think that paints a very clear picture of our generations’ standards, and more importantly the message that social media paints for us.

Social media will continue to exist and expand for the rest of our generation and future generations. It’s the new reality we have to adapt to. While it can be fun and feel fulfilling at times, we have to acknowledge the good and bad perceptions it gives us. This feeling of failing is not a reality, but a story we’ve decided to tell ourselves while using social media as our confirmed bias for why that’s true.

It’s really hard to grasp the feeling of “I am where I am meant to be”, and it’s definitely not one I have mastered. Sadly, this article offers little advice but hopefully comfort through the fact that we’re all in this together.

Being in your twenties is not easy, but it’s not a direct link to failure. I personally find comfort in my dreams and use the posts on social media that make me feel unsuccessful as reinforced motivation for what I’m working for. I can’t wait to look back on these years and remember when I used to count my change for a cup of coffee. I can’t wait to look back and think about how far I’ve made it. I don’t think high school me would be anything but impressed with how far I’ve already come. I do think she’d be disappointed with wasting these years wishing to be something that I’m not, instead of making the most of this time that is mine and will not be returned. Instead of continuing to wait for your life to start, make the realization that it already has and find out how to make the most of it right now

Belle O’Neill

Wilfrid Laurier '23

Belle is a third year Communications and Environmental Studies student at Wilfrid Laurier University.
Similar Reads👯‍♀️