The Fear: Trapping Myself In Teaching

Is it just me, or does being in your mid-twenties feel like a balancing act? Desperately clinging onto friendships, trying to find love on the most soul-less selection of apps and the pressure to find the perfect job.

I thought that by starting a blog, I could share the experiences, the questions and the achievements that I have in my twenties in the hope that it might help the feelings of imposter syndrome and occasional loneliness, especially if other people feel the same!

As a teacher, my job is incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. But it’s also time consuming and anxiety inducing, and thanks to Corona Virus, this has been multiplied by, what feels like 1000. Everybody is feeling the stress, whether you’re in retail, hospitality, the NHS or something completely different. But regardless of our jobs, when this is supposed to be the time to find yourself, being a twenty-something in 2020 is terrifying.

However, this post isn’t about the difficulties we are facing due to Corona Virus; I wanted to express the observations that I’ve been making about beginning a career in your early twenties.

After starting my role as a Newly Qualified Teacher at just 23, I often wonder whether I made the right decision in beginning my career so early on in my life. The love for my job does not mean that I’m completely doubt free, and I think that this uncertainty is something that needs to be spoken about more. I worry that I haven’t given myself the chance to explore the world of employment and sometimes I worry that I’ve made a mistake by going into teaching too young.

Having Fun and Making Friends

I think that many of the worries about ‘not having fun’ come from social media, because it increases the chance of getting FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). That FOMO is then intensified when you’re beginning a typically ‘adult’ career in your early twenties because you’re reminded of the carefree fun that you used to have that no longer exists.

Since returning from University where I was lucky enough to have multiple friendship groups and constant stimulation, I have walked back into a lonely home-town. I don’t have many friends from my school days, and the ones I do have? Our schedules are either completely different or we’re just too busy to meet up. I tried to make new friends through other means and joined the gym two years ago. I love my exercise routine, but haven’t made a single friend.

I think it’s important to recognise that you can make friends with anybody, regardless of their age. I would say that I’m beginning to make friends with all of my colleagues and I value their friendship, but many of my colleagues are getting married, having children or are waiting on grandchildren. Despite my love for my friends at work, being surrounded by colleagues who are at a different stage of life than me can be hard, because I feel stuck between being at the tail end of my teenage years and not quite ready to take the leap into adulthood.

I’m only 24 and I want to enjoy being 24. I’m still young, yet I often feel like I’m being forced into a box labelled ‘adult’, and maybe my career choice hasn’t helped that. My job means that I can no longer party until dawn. I can’t become TikTok famous, even if I wanted to. I can’t even go to the supermarket without a teenager recognising me as their teacher.

“I often feel like I’m being forced into a box labelled ‘adult’”

Beginning a career in your twenties comes with certain restrictions, and whilst having a career is an incredible achievement, I don’t think it’s wrong to crave the life or the friendships that are plastered all over social media. Reminding myself of the falsities of social media doesn’t make me feel better either because it doesn’t fix the worry that I’m living my twenties ‘wrong’. I know other people must be feeling the same way, but the fear of feeling selfish for not appearing grateful rears its ugly head and it doesn’t get spoken about.

Having a Responsible Job in your Twenties is Not Limiting

Although I have moments of feeling stuck between a rock and a hard place, I know this is part of learning. I spoke about the restrictions of having a career in your twenties, but I don’t ever think an experience can be limiting, whatever it is. Experiences make you who you are. Each freckle, scar and scrape changes you as a person, and even if in the short term you don’t enjoy something, in the long term it develops your character. It never limits it.

Adulting in your early twenties can make you feel trapped, especially when you’re one of the first people you know doing it. The only other people that you can compare your career to are those 30 years deep into their careers, or, the colleagues who are young themselves, but are married and settled down at 29. I don’t want to become that person. I want to travel, meet people from different backgrounds and cultures. I want to take photos, write stories and eat lots of food. I don’t want to relive the same groundhog-day until I retire.

“Adulting in your early twenties can make you feel trapped, especially when you’re one of the first people you know doing it.”

What I’m worried about is losing myself to a career too soon. I understand that that is usually the way, and I’m not denying that it’ll happen, because a career usually does become your life. I’ve seen it happen, but I don’t want it to happen to me yet.

Changing Your Mindset

The thought of a 40 year-long job ahead of me is daunting, so I had to stop thinking of it as the rest of my life, and started taking each day as it comes. As soon as I realised that ‘career’ didn’t equate to ‘life-long job’, I felt free.

So, no. I don’t feel as though it is limiting to be in such a responsible job at a young age, but I do think it’s important not to lose yourself. It is important to hold onto your dreams, and to fulfil them.

When it comes to feeling trapped in a career, we have to remember that quite often, those feelings are fuelled by thoughts and expectations, which we don’t have to stick to. Everything could change in an instant and we could be the ones to change it.

Over the past few weeks when I have been writing, researching and pondering these questions about my career, I realised that I could still do all of jobs that I have dreamed of. I can still have a career in writing or publishing or journalism and I can still have a career in teaching. But I have to make it happen myself. I’d like to continue teaching, at least until I’ve completed this academic year, or maybe even the next. I’ll always have this career to fall back on, but I also know that I’m not contracted for life and I can do anything I want.

Being scared is okay, but never let it stop you. We’re only in our twenties, we’ve got time and we’re still learning.

And I’m not sure I ever want that to stop.

I’ve got lots more to share and even more to learn, so if you want to join me on my journey of navigating my twenties to hear how I’ve come to understand love, mental health and even a few recipes then why not sign up to my monthly newsletter! I’ll be sharing stories, tips and asking the questions that’ll make us all feel less alone.

Stay safe, keep going and I’m looking forward to seeing you all again soon!