I'm 28 years old and have only held down a full-time job for five weeks. I still live at home, whilst my younger brother left close to a decade ago. I always imagined that life would be different to this. I had high expectations and was constantly pushing myself to achieve so that my life looked perfect to those around me, but I now have no experience of working for close to three years and I feel woefully inadequate.
I was always very good at covering up my inadequacies. I wanted to look like I could hold it all together. Now, my social media feeds are filled with announcements of engagements and babies born to people my own age or younger, whilst all I see is what I’m not achieving. I see just how far I still have to go. I tell myself that who I am isn’t enough when those around me are doing so much more with their lives.
Who decided that having a career and a family of your own are the only route to fulfilment? I don’t tell myself how far I have come, believing that getting to this point in my life is nothing. I’m one of many who live with suicidal thoughts, crippling depression and anxiety. Still fighting, we have so much to be proud of and yet we write off our days because we’re not where we thought we would be. #Stillbreathing isn’t trending in spite of the numbers who can claim this as their greatest achievement because we fail to see it as one.
What I am beginning to realise is that achievement can be seen in so much more than having lots of people around you and thousands of pounds in your bank account. Achievement is in being kind to those around you regardless of how you feel. Achievement is in looking after yourself even when you want to die. Achievement is in doing the very best you can at this point in your life, even if that is through breathing in and out again and again.
Life doesn’t follow a roadmap or a point by point checklist of age-related goals. I’m not where I thought I would be at the age of 28. I haven’t worked a full-time job for longer than five weeks and I still live at home. But I am breathing and that is my greatest achievement of all.