The Fear of Being Average

Last week, I went to an open recruitment event at a giant international company. It took me 3 hours to get there and 3 hours to come back. And after a day of networking, pitching and talking to the professionals, I expected to return home buzzing. High on the prospect of being employed there, or at a company similar. 

Instead, I found myself on the train home having an existential crisis. 

I'd walked into a room of people, and found myself faced with 25 different versions of myself. Versions of myself at different universities, or who studied different subjects. But all of them with the same drive and motivation which had landed me a place at the event in the first place. All of them with work experience under their belt and a wealth of extra curricular activities. 

When you're at school, or university, you hear about statistics. You know about the lack of jobs for young people and hear the stories of James, the golden boy at school who's back working at the local spoons with a 2:1 from Cambridge. But do you really, ever think it will happen to you? Almost definitely not. 

Last week was the first time I felt like a statistic. I'm set to get a 2:1 in my degree, I work a part time job, I just finished a year as a Marketing Director where I attended business meetings with big shot scary people in central London, and I play football for the university. 

And yet I sat in that room and felt as awkward as Taylor Swift when Kanye shaded her at the VMA's. 

I actually read an article on this, in which the writer talked about 'special snowflakes' and how my generation feel entitled. When I first read it, I guffawed. Excuse me, writer, but I study a politics degree. I know better than most how shit the world I'm about to graduate into is.

And yet despite this, the possibility of being one of those who has to move back in with their parents until aged 35 was never really a 'thing'. I felt untouchable. I felt like a special snowflake. 

I think it's much the same as being an Oxbridge fresher. At school, you're top of the class, you're the bee's knees with 8 A Levels and an extended project to shout about. And then you start university, and suddenly find yourself in a sea of people with 9 A Levels and an extended project and a golden D of E. 

I don't feel awkward or embarrassed about writing how I thought things would just come to me. I spent my teenage life thinking I would just end up the wife of Leonardo DiCaprio, but I see now, I have to go and get him. 

The good news is,  once you've realised you're not entitled to anything, that everyone doesn't 'win' and that you don't actually deserve X over Y, you can start to challenge it. You can start to work harder and push yourself and pick yourself back up when you don't get the job you want or the life you thought you'd have by aged 25. The chances are, things aren't always going to go your way, and if you're able to pull yourself together and move on, there's no reason it won't be you. 

I did feel inferior in that room of 30 me's. But I also earned my place and had no less reason to be there than anyone else. Statistically, as a member of Generation Y, I'm going to have to fight the hardest for a job, for a house, to have a living. But ultimately, my success is not determined by how much money I bring in, and neither is yours. The special snowflake analogy misses this. It focalises on whether you've got a full pocket and not a full life. I'd personally rather have the latter. 

Ciao for Now!