When I published my post about money last week [you can check it out here if you haven’t already] I expected backlash. In my overactive imagination companies far and wide would somehow get my number to inform me I was on every blacklist in the land. Angry mobs of rich people would turn up with gold plated pitchforks because I’d dared break the unspoken money mentioning rules. What can I say? I’m a worst-case scenario person.
Instead, I’ve received a wave of support from other people who all feel the same way as me but didn’t think they were allowed to speak up. Which, I won’t lie, made me pretty darn proud of myself for taking a leap of faith and pressing ‘publish’. It also opens up another can of worms as to why so many of us are being made to feel ashamed about a way of life completely out of our control.
So, this week, I thought I’d elaborate on some of the amazing discussions I’ve had with people over the past seven days, which have raised even more points about living as a working-class young person in today’s society. There are, of course, an endless amount of topics I could (and will!) write about but these are the top three points that came off the back of last week’s post:
- Living with your parents is common and valid.
Living at home has always come attached to the stereotype of a forty-year-old virgin (let’s also file away ‘why are people so interested in other people’s sexuality’ for a future blog) living in his mum’s basement and touching himself at the thought of alien boobs.
The truth, and in fact my own truth, is all sorts of young people are living with their parents now through no fault of their own. And most of them are embarrassed to say so.
From the discussions I’ve been having this week, people living at home are made to feel lazy and unworthy. Sometimes this comes from strangers or family and sometimes just from peer pressure and social media. Each person I spoke to were relieved I’d mentioned living at home as they felt they were the only one—they felt panicked, as though they were running out of time, and I’ve definitely felt the same.
The issue is, a lot of people in their twenties have no other choice due to finance and the lack of job opportunities. In a recent Instagram poll by Black Tea Books 67% of ninety-five voters said they had stayed with parents during university or whilst working because they couldn’t afford rent (www.blackteabooks.com). That’s a huge percentage of our society, the sort of percentage that could mean the difference between leave and remain (ugh), so why are we still living with such outdated prejudices?
- People take the piss with freelancers.
I’ve been undertaking freelance work while I look for a more stable income (insert laughter here at the idea of such a thing as a stable income now) and people really do take the piss. I’ve been offered as little as $1 for a thousand words which is mere pennies when converted into the Queen’s coinage for hours’ worth of work. Needless to say I turned these people down but I’ve also spoken to friends and readers who’ve mentioned being asked to produce goods for free. Or, should I say, for experience. Because we’re all well-versed with taking our experience cheques to the supermarket for our daily bread, right? Now-a-days people want things quickly and they want them cheap. That mindset is damaging small businesses everywhere.
- YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
The overwhelming message to come from all my interactions this week is none of us are alone in our struggles. Beneath our aesthetically pleasing Instagram feeds and witty tweets we’re all fumbling along trying to do our best in a world seemingly set up to see us fail. All the while making us believe we can’t talk about our failure when it happens. It feels like a sick psychology experiment.
Desperately we scramble to find how we fit in this new world, whilst worrying ourselves sick about money, work, and relationships in total silence. We all spend our days online comparing our achievements to everyone else’s. Yet what we’re doing is comparing the worst parts of our lives to the best parts of someone else’s. We all know social media is a highlights reel but still we’re taken in by it. Everyone’s scared they’re being left behind—that they’re the only ones in the position they are in. Myself included. Too many of us are miserable and we need to start talking about it.
It’s not easy to talk about the parts of life we don’t have sorted out—the unfiltered, messy parts—especially when we’re often told not to. However, I believe it is of vital importance that we open up this long overdue discussion. Only in talking about the mess can we begin to organise it and feel less alone.
I want to finish by thanking everyone who’s got in touch this week. It genuinely makes me so happy to be told something I’ve written has made another person feel less alone or a little more understood. I nearly didn’t publish last week’s post so the reaction has been astounding. Let me know if you have any other points to raise regarding things I’ve mentioned in this blog or my previous ones. I’m always up for talking about our unfiltered realities.