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I Am Becoming What I Want To Be


By the very fact of being in your early twenties, living is naturally inseparable from the unimpeded forces of transition. It's almost like a grown-up version of being a toddler, except we are re-experiencing the world, now with autonomy, more money, and legal access to alcohol to help us numb the near constant existential panic. We exist on a slowly crumbling fence, conflicted between our own childishness, and an idealised, adult version of ourselves that we are told to become. We create new versions of our own reality, cosplaying as different people with different interests until we find something or someone that feels more like home.

In all honesty, I’m finding this whole process quite difficult, and I know most of us feel the same way.

Navigating these pivotal years is challenging enough without a vicious pandemic or an increasingly destructive environmental crisis. And now Ukraine is being invaded. Yemen, Palestine, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Syria, Ethiopia and dozens of other countries are still in active conflict. The rights of my fellow LGBTQIA+ peoples are yet again up for public debate. Victims of assault are being consistently retraumatised and blatantly harassed on a national scale. Immunocompromised and disabled peoples are being left out in the cold by our national health policies. Not to mention the continued systemtic discrimination and violence experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. All coming up to a national election. Aren't we so lucky?

Day after day these issues compound and grate away at our very being, granting us the lovely gift of burnout. But hey, we still have to hand in assignments on time and perform well at work and maintain friendships and find love wherever we can and appease our families and see the world while it's still beautiful.

How am I supposed to “live, laugh, love” in these conditions?

It's agonising how there isn’t enough time in the day to take care of myself, go to work, spend time with the people and places I love, all while trying to keep up to date with whatever atrocities are currently unfolding. And somehow I’m supposed to simultaneously figure out who I am and what I want to be, if only for the next few years of my life.

How can young people even make choices about our futures when everything is near-constantly in flux? It's no wonder that we have been experiencing a Y2K, indie-sleaze and emo renaissance as we young people fixate on eras gone by, in all their rose-coloured glory. Because in a crisis, nostalgia is the only thing that makes sense. We are trying to establish ourselves by creating a vision of what our past selves wanted to be so desperately if we’d had the money (I’m looking at you @ChrissyChlapecka).

To be a young adult is to be pulled in so many directions. It's painful, nauseating and seemingly endless. As the future barrels forward, I find myself screaming into the void between what was and all that could be. So many of us want to follow the less beaten path, to enjoy the thrill of hoisting our middle finger to society, again and again, until it leaves a mark and the messed up politics we inherited is a faded memory.

I must admit that I am scared that I will never be the kind of changemaker I dream of being. I am afraid of being held back by the things that are (mostly) outside of my control. I am terrified of becoming just another burned-out, bitter adult, immune to the noise of a news feed full of bombs and fire and heartache, living in a mental bliss of privilege with the ability to put the phone down and choose ignorance.

I fear becoming an apathetic adult like the Boomers and the Silent Generation that destroyed our economy and filled our lives with plastic. I would much rather walk through the world holding onto a childish exuberance, glad in glitter and tattoos and an all-encompassing wonder for the land I walk on, than to allow its destruction just because it would be a lesser personal inconvenience in the short term. I would rather someone call me naïve or stupid than to be complicit in turning the whole world grey.

Why can't young people rewrite the rulebook for adulthood, given that everything seems to be falling apart so rapidly? Why not live our lives in the sun, clad and glitter and whatever hedonistic form of self-expression we choose, for as long as possible.

Maybe childishness is what will make the chaos bearable.

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