We are a Generation of Self Doubt

A generation of self doubt. That is what we are. I am 27, nearly 28. Which means I’m nearly 30. Which means I am an almost, fully-formed adult, and it’s freaking me out. And I am not alone. All over the country we are battling against niggling, stretching thoughts we cannot comprehend, not fully. We are at that age of change. We are all having pre-mid-life crises, start-of-real-adulthood crises, or whatever you want to call it. We feel hard done by.

I, for one, did not sign up for this. This constant battle of knowing what it is I should do next, and never fully feeling satisfied. I blame my parents, we all do; it’s an easy way out, and they accept responsibility most of the time, anyway. Wasn’t it them who told us we could be anything, do anything? That with a little hard work and determination we could be whoever it was we envisaged when we were covered with acne and bushing on a Friday night. Truth is, hard work and determination just equal self doubt. Even when we are accomplishing something we feel like some kind of fraud, that one day somebody will ‘discover,’ will ‘find out’ we’re just winging it. It’s even worse when you choose a flippant, mind-fuck of a career as I have so cleverly done.

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And we are on the dawn of regret. Our 20s are nearly over and now we have to march, stone-faced into a serious world, and we are already one foot into the water and it’s too cold. We tut-tut with envy at the teenagers who smoke weed and complain about the leaving cert. We openly scathe new undergraduates who whinge about having too much coursework. We want to go back to the time when we were old enough to do what we wanted but had that comfy fallback.

Even when we are accomplishing something we feel like some kind of fraud, that one day somebody will ‘discover,’ will ‘find out’ we’re just winging it.

Then there’s that big old fat future that is as unwanted as a fart. It lingers at the forefront of thought and we try and swerve around it daily. Those who moved in their early 20s are looking for a way back. Those who stayed at home are contemplating a move. The ones with proper jobs and degree certificates and marriage certificates and mortgages (I mean, really!) are contemplating ripping it all up and running off to Italy to work on a vineyard and live a simple life. Those who have spent the years travelling, who have ‘wanderlust’ tattooed upon their wrists are confronted with the idea of a J.O.B. And everyone’s off getting pregnant, willy nilly. Is that what I should be doing, then?

That big, shadowy figure of self doubt is waiting at every corner like a Dementor (am I too old to make Harry Potter references?) We secretly wonder how much everyone else is making, if their relationships are better, if they too, find it hard to sleep at night because they’re not really sure what it is they have to do tomorrow. It all comes down, really, to this one thought: I thought it would be easier. I thought I’d know who I was by now and what it was I had to do, and what exactly made me happy. Who was it that said ‘naivety in the young is a beautiful thing’? Beg to differ.

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Undergrads don’t know how lucky they have it, image source

That future that we conjured up as we packed our bags to head off to university did not include a crisis; it did not include working jobs for a wage we deem inappropriate for bosses we deem incapable; it certainly didn’t include this crystal ball of questioning that sits in the stomach for the better part of the day. We just thought being an adult would be easier. We thought love would be easier. Work. Sex. Making a bloody living. Naivety in the young is a beautiful thing, until it catches up on you, knocks you sideways and laughs its face off.

The ones with proper jobs and degree certificates and marriage certificates and mortgages (I mean, really!) are contemplating ripping it all up and running off to Italy to work on a vineyard and live a simple life. Those who have spent the years travelling, who have ‘wanderlust’ tattooed upon their wrists are confronted with the idea of a J.O.B.

The endless doubt is crushing. I try and figure out where it comes from – was it something we inherited, like the blue in our eyes or the ginge-tinge in our beards? Our cyber-selves certainly aren’t helping. Each day we log in to check the lives of others, and it is always the same story: one constant orgasm of life. Everyone is always smiling and travelling and eating in the best restaurants; we are so in love and we declare our happiness and hash-tag the fuck out of life. It leaves us wanting.

The Facebook fairytale, Instagram idealism, Snapchat scandal, they’re all a way to pretend we’re not all freaked out by our very existence. They face us off against each other to compete on who is winning. A moment doesn’t really exist unless it’s been photographed, uploaded and has 100 likes. #lovinglife #ohsohappy #thisisperfection. And then the self-doubt grows silently. We think to ourselves, am I as happy as them? Am I really accomplishing anything? #Ifeelimaypuke

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Our grandparents worked to work. They were happy of a job and of being able to support their families and just live. Our parents, they worked to have. To have golf-clubs, beauty-products, cars, holidays. Us? We do it all for show.

We didn’t inherit it. At least I don’t think so. Our grandparents worked to work. They were happy of a job and of being able to support their families and just live. Our parents, they worked to have. To have golf-clubs, beauty-products, cars, holidays. Us? We do it all for show. Our lives have become an unending reality TV show and we don’t want to be voted off. I just don’t understand who we’re doing it all for. #Voteforme

They say to solve a problem you have to face it. Well, this is me, facing it. I’m not really sure I see a way around its obesity but I’m going to give it a shot. So, younger people, early-20-something-year-olds, go mad, enjoy it all. Older people, you’re probably laughing at me, thinking, it only gets worse from here on out! Well, yes, I’ve been informed of that fact. Doesn’t make this self-doubt malarkey any easier to deal with. Nearly thirty-year-olds, you are not alone. We’re all screwed, so let’s just admit it to each other.

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