I'm getting frustrated and increasingly upset by others' rose-tinted, idealized notions about youth and the pursuit of happiness (e.g.,
I'm college-educated and in my late twenties. My job is demanding, time-consuming, and neither particularly rewarding nor lucrative. I have no real opportunity for advancement. My skill set is fairly specialized, so I'm lucky to have the job I do. I live and work in a suburb of a large city, where rents are expensive (relative to my salary, even with roommates) and entertainment is scant. I'm far enough from the city that a night on the town takes advance preparation. I take evening classes and spend much of my limited free time on homework. The classes don't seem to be adding up to a credential, and I suspect that I'll have to return to school full time to get ahead. My leisure activities are pretty few. They're things that are cheap or free and don't take much time or special supplies: literary reading, music, random websurfing, jogging, biking, etc.
I get the feeling that acquaintances, busybodies, and "people in general" consider this period of my life to be the flowering of my youth, and expect me to have fun, go out, relax, and kick back. I get comments to the effect of "why are you working so hard?" I work hard because that's what I feel I have to do just to stay in place.
But you know? I do want to take language and painting classes. I want to master a musical instrument. I want to go to the theater and the philharmonic. I want to live big. I want to cook using complicated recipes with strange ingredients. I want to develop an encyclopedic knowledge of artisanal beer. I want to have a wide circle of friends to party with. I want to have a fulfilling romantic relationship. I want to run a 5K and go to arthouse cinema to watch foreign films. I want everything listed in this song
. I just can't afford to… and don't have the time to… and don't live conveniently close to… and…
Have you had to deal with criticism, explicit or implicit, that you're letting life pass you by? How did you deal with the feelings of shame and anger that come as a result? It's unfortunate enough to lead a drab, unexciting life. It's certainly harder if you keep hearing that you're doing it wrong.