Saturday, 4 June 2016

Perspective: The Right Way To Live

As I sit at home on a Saturday morning feeling overwhelmed by life, I consider what it means to live the right way. For many of my close family and friends it seems to be the usual aspirations; a well paid job, marriage and home ownership. For my parent’s generation there was an order to things which many of my peers continue to use as a model for their own lives.

The reality for many young people today is that these goals are less important or too far out of reach. Occasionally I browse online listings for property in my area and consider how I might be failing because I can’t afford to get on the property ladder. At other times I wonder if being in a relationship with an artist is going to provide the financial security I might want for my family. Why do I do this when these things are beyond my control? I can’t choose to have a wealthy family, any more than I can choose who I fall in love with.

Every day we are told what to aspire to. We are told that we should be buying that package holiday, that new car and the latest smart phone. Advertising seems increasingly insidious in its methods when phone adverts are tied to stories about capturing happy moments in our lives. We are fed a glamorous high definition version of the world which could not be further from the lives we actually live. What about the mundane daily tasks which make up more of our lives than the grand moments?

I have to take a step back and look at my own life increasingly frequently. Of the earlier list I’ve achieved the well paid job but often feel unfulfilled and as if I am waiting to find what I really want to do. In a recent appraisal my boss asked me what I wanted to do next and I had to answer honestly that I just don’t know. That pressure of not knowing in a social media world where it seems everyone has it figured out can be quite difficult to deal with and often leaves me feeling empty and isolated from the community.

And what about the things that go wrong in life? An ill partner, a poor decision, sheer bad luck? Life does not work in a way that allows us to make firm plans for each decade of our lives, and yet there seems a tremendous pressure to do this.

For now I think I need to focus on the small things I can do to lead the life I want to (write, make art, explore) and to shake off people’s expectations. After all, we only have a comparatively short amount of time on this planet. We’d be foolish to waste it trying to conform to societal norms.


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