It’s 4pm on a Sunday and I have just gotten out of bed. My fridge is empty, I’m on my last roll of toilet paper and my floor has become so dusty that it could be sold in an antique shop. There is a Tesco Express no more than a five-minute walk down the road, and if I do not go soon I will be having cereal for dinner. Despite my rumbling stomach, and the mountain of errands I should be doing, I spend four hours playing The Sims 4 until it’s dark outside. Coco Pops for dinner it is.
When you’re in your early teenage years, the idea of being in the adult world is a prospect worth longing for. Free from the shackles of curfews and bacon and cabbage dinners, you can finally decide what time you get up, what time you go to bed, when you go out and what you eat. You no longer have to abide by your parents’ rules, and your independence is the gift the world has granted you for making it through your early life and education. It is often nice to not have to worry about waking up parents when stumbling in from a night out, and having cold pizza for dinner does have its upsides. Yet what many of these college-kid movies do not show is how exhausting modern adult life can be.
I am aware that it is very typical of me, a self-absorbed, hyper-sensitive, politically correct millennial, to complain about how hard it is to be me. I also appreciate that in the grand scheme of things, my life is extremely easy compared to many other young people around the world. Still, I think there is a point to be made about how easily this generation can become burnt out and exhausted by the mundane tasks of adult life. Whether you’re like me, and it’s a simple five-minute walk to the shop that has manifested itself into the Camino de Santiago in your mind, or it’s simply just ironing, hoovering or emptying the dishwasher, even the basic elements of everyday life are suddenly all-consuming.
In Trinity especially, I find there is an added level of expectation, as societies play such a large part in the social aspect of our college experience
As a young person, it feels like we need to be up to date with everything that’s happening in the world, be that news, pop culture, fashion, politics or social issues. This inevitably requires taking at least an hour out of your day every day to read up on the goings-on of the world. As well as that, like any normal person, we must work to survive, although we cannot let this take over from our college work, which we must be constantly on top of. And let’s not forget socialising outside of college and work, which we must be doing about four times a week in order to not feel like utter anti-socialites. To top it all off, there’s cooking and cleaning and eating healthy and going to the gym, which we fit seamlessly into our 24-hour day, while also accounting for the beloved eight-hour sleep that we all achieve every night. We are expected to be superhuman, and never complain, and if we do, we are once again deemed spoiled and reminded that we don’t know the meaning of true hard work.
In Trinity especially, I find there is an added level of expectation, as societies play such a large part in the social aspect of our college experience. I remember being advised to take an active role in at least three societies: one in something you’re interested in, one for sport and one for volunteering. Although this may be very impressive in theory, in reality it can be an exhausting practice for anyone not blessed with superpowers. There’s always extra work you can be doing in Trinity, whether that’s suggested readings on top of the weekly readings you should already be doing, or “networking” for post-college life. It seems as if young people are never expected to have time just to do nothing. And due to this unending list of things we should be doing, we feel unproductive and unmotivated when we’re not constantly striving toward a successful future.
A simple five-minute walk to the shop manifests itself into the Camino de Santiago in your mind, and even the basic elements of everyday life are suddenly all-consuming
At some point, of course, in any discussion about the “burnout generation” there is always a mention of social media. While we exhaust ourselves trying to meet all expectations of what a young person should be doing, it is always important to maintain an image that all of this is effortless and uncomplicated. Photos of us travelling, going out, visiting museums and hanging out with friends must be shared often enough so that people know that we have a life. Our Instagram feeds are usually empty of photos of us crying at 2am while desperately trying to finish an assignment that’s due the next day, and our Snapchat stories tend not to show how sweaty and defeated we look like after an eight-hour shift of our minimum-wage job. Likes, retweets and comments are inevitably the perfect way to ensure that we can compare ourselves to everyone else our age and, once again, feel as though we’re lagging behind.
Being a young person does and always will have its perks. We have so much time ahead of us to discover who we are and who we will be, and life can be so exciting and new, but it is definitely not as easy as it was promised to be. I encourage honesty between young people, to share how sometimes, adult life is just tough. To all the young people reading, I implore you to be kinder to yourself. If you don’t want to go out, just don’t go out, and skipping one lecture because you’re just too exhausted to get out of bed doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Shut your phone off for a day, grab a bowl of Coco Pops and throw on The Sims 4. I promise you won’t regret it.