When Erin turned 28 in January, her post about birthday blues really struck a chord with me. I turned 27 in February and definitely felt the weight of an insurmountable list of things I want to accomplish or experience. But the important question is why we feel this way. Where is all the pressure coming from?

I recently read an article about the ‘Beyoncé Clock’ in response to the ‘You have as many hours in a day as Beyoncé’ meme, exploring how hyper-productive people achieve so much. The short answer: hard work, sacrificing sleep, and being focused on goals. This is encouraging, because it means that you hold the power to achieve all that you need and want to. But is it really that simple?

I read pretty much every article with a title like ’20 things you have to do in your 20s’, and I’ve noticed the same three popping up consistently:

  1. Start saving
  2. Travel
  3. Follow your passion and make it your career

Does anyone else notice an incompatibility here? How are we supposed to travel when we have to save? How are we supposed to make our passion our career when we’re on the other side of the world working behind a bar to fund our travels? And how on earth are you supposed to follow your passion and make it your career when you’re working so hard to save money that you come home exhausted?

Last February I quit my poorly-paying job and moved to London to pursue a career in the arts. I knew I needed to do this because it was my passion. And guess what? It’s been a year and I don’t work in the arts. In the last year I have frequently felt as if my life has already passed me by and I should have known what I wanted to do when I was younger and started working for it earlier. I look at people like Bey and think, why didn’t I start following my dreams at the age of 9? Why did I only start to worry about this when I hit 26? Why do I need so much sleep, why can’t I make myself work harder?

The thing is, I kind of feel like I don’t have as many hours in the day as Beyoncé. There’s nothing I can do to change the past, and I’m not going to wake up one day suddenly needing less sleep and less money. So now I’m writing when I’m inspired, getting out as much as I can and trying not to blow all my money on things I don’t need. I’m beginning to accept my own limitations and avoiding comparing my life to other people’s, and the pressure has lifted somewhat. I feel like I’m making progress, maybe not at lightning speed, but I’m doing as much as I can handle.

What I’m trying to say is: hard work is the key to getting everything we want, and your twenties are the time to put the work in and to sacrifice luxuries to get where you want to be, but you can only work as hard as you can. You can’t always work as hard as you feel you are supposed to, but you’re doing what you can. It’s okay if you want the world but can’t always find the energy, money or motivation to push towards it. After all, as much as we all wish we were Beyoncé, there can be only one.

pbr