Life as a 20-Something in 2016

In my last post I listed a few podcasts I’ve been into lately. Well, I found a new one, Millennial. I just listened to one of their episodes and found myself relating, not to the total synopsis, but to the feelings threaded through it. Doubt. Fear. Confusion. The choice between the pragmatic and the creative.

Last night I had to sit down for a couple of hours and have a total brain detox. Sometimes the overwhelming and demanding aspects of 21st century life as a millennial can be a gradual, creeping monster. I don’t think I need to explain this any deeper – we all know it already.
On one end of the spectrum is the fear of not having our life together – the absence of a partner, children, house, career. On the other is the financial and mental stress it brings when we do. The housing market is every first buyers nightmare, the cost of a “standard” wedding is staggering, and the idea of a strictly 9 to 5 job almost laughable. And let’s not get into the wormhole of considering how you could practically afford the time or money to start a family any time in the next 15 years, manage a holiday beyond Ryanair’s European reach, or maintain a hobby that doesn’t directly benefit your CV.

Each to us is our own unique situation and anxiety, but doubtless we can all see ourselves somewhere in that mix. For us right now, we have cleared the hurdle of marriage, precariously clung to employment (in my case), and face our next financial rite of passage, buying a home. A jolly project that’s easier said than done when living in one of the most expensive areas of the UK, even with help from the gracious bank of mum and dad.
No wonder the trend of travelling to get away from these problems – what will happen when our peers happily bungee jumping and elephant riding their way through Asia come home to nest with a bank account as blank as their CV I can’t imagine. Perhaps that’s unnecessary criticism (tinged with envy). Maybe they have the right idea, clocking out of the rat race and society’s traditional way of life – one that is increasingly strained.

Like I said, I cleared my head last night. For me, that meant praying and re-reading some encouraging verses friends have given me over the few years. Writing out my prayers is my best method when my head is too foggy to string verbal sentences together.
(As a millennial, I guess using a meditation iPhone app, with a colouring book and juiced smoothie in hand would have been more appropriate).

I said a little while back that I wasn’t keen on diarised entries and personal reflection. But listening to this podcast reminded me the value in sharing our own stories. There’s enough generic advice out there. It also encouraged me to persevere with this blog. We can still pursue interests beyond our workplace, we just have to be willing to make the time.

I hope to keep sharing authentic experiences, and snippets of ideas worth thinking on, amidst my usual content.

So tell me readers – how is millennial life treating you?

First Married Christmas

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It’s been a bit quiet here of late. I’m looking forward to getting back in the swing of blogging, but I felt I couldn’t move on without at least a slight nod to Christmas, New Years, etc. I don’t intend on filling this blog with personal reflections and diarised entries, but I think they hold value in small doses. Personally I enjoy blogs where I feel I know something of the person behind them, and really it’s the only original content you can provide in a world where no idea or thought seems new.

December for me was a mixed bag – I turned 26, fulfilled a childhood dream of visiting Austria, had a good long break and visited friends and in-law family in Northern Ireland.

Most significantly of all, it was my first Christmas as a wife, and living with my husband in our own place. This is something I had been looking forward to since we got engaged 2½ years ago! It was a real joy to decorate our own house, pick out a real Christmas tree, and collect or DIY our decorations. It was a privilege to be able to host some big Christmas dinners with friends, and even our last minute shopping was more festive than ‘stresstive’. On Christmas Eve we made up our own mulled wine and feasted on it alongside sausages and mince pies while watching the Cambridge carol concert followed by a Christmas film. Christmas itself and the following days were spent with my family in a food filled, relatively relaxed haze that was a nice removal from the usual hectic worklife.

Although this all sounds, and in many ways was, pretty idyllic, in the background of all this my job situation has been completely unknown. After being hit with a redundancy, I was due to finish for gardening leave the week before Christmas. At the last minute, as I planned my goodbye email to colleagues and handed over the last of my work, my contract was extended to January off the back of a slight possibility of an internal role – something I’m still waiting for news on. In the December run up to Christmas, I had 5 interviews – encouraging, but stressful – with another booked (and to be prepared for) for early January. While unsettling, and difficult against the Christmas season – a time when you want to be generous, and also relaxed! – I also recognize that this is petty compared to the difficulties Christmas brings for many people, so I’m certainly not writing this as a sob story. Social media and blogging usually displays a “highlights reel” so in response I think there’s value in honest accounts, however un-ground-breaking.

Although it didn’t turn out to be my ideal first married Christmas, it was still a great one.


Observations and Tips for (Your First Married or Otherwise) Christmas:

  • Don’t expect it to be perfect (or put pressure on yourself to make it so). Besides job issues, I didn’t get to do everything I thought was required for a perfect Christmas. I didn’t make homemade mince pies, or Christmas cake, or Christmas pudding, and my impatient attempt at drying oranges (above) ended up a little ‘chargrilled’. We didn’t get to a carol concert, or ice skating, or see Love Actually or even get a festive coffee! But – that means we can look forward to these next year.
  • Don’t force traditions. I see all over Pinterest tips on “15 Christmas traditions you HAVE to start”. Hmmm. Traditions don’t have to start year one of your marriage. I did enjoy our Christmas Eve home-made mulled wine. Maybe that will become one – maybe not. Just enjoy it for the moment.
  • Homemade gifts are great… but not the be-all-end-all. There were a couple of projects I didn’t finish – but these will turn into Birthday presents instead!
  • Being generous is nice… but no one does (/should) expect lavish gifts in your first year of marriage. Focus on small, thoughtful pieces – like special Christmas ornaments or a framed family photograph. Homemade biscuits can be as good as any expensive chocolate box!

As a Christian, I’m trusting that there is a good job lined up for me, and I will not be left in the abyss of unemployment. It’s easy to forget how previous problems actually do work themselves out from what seems an impossible situation. Post-uni, I found the job search dire, and spent nearly a year working a minimum wage zero-hour shop assistant job, before landing (what for me then) was a dream job. All the job rejections up to them had avoided me accepting roles I largely wasn’t actually interested in or well-equipped for. I believe God has a plan this time round too and I am keen to see what it turns out to be.

Hope you all had an excellent Christmas – and if not, then a better 2016.

DSC_0200 An unfinished felt chalet DIY ornament

DSC_0299DIY porcelain clay decoration

DSC_0009Vienna – more on that another post