• Katie Thomas

"None of us get out of this life alive"

Time is the surest thing we have. It’s as sure as the changing seasons, the sun rising and a new series of MKR returning to our screens. It moves us forward and brings change, ticking the seconds off as hours and days go by. But the most daring thing about time is that it insists we grow up – how annoying!

For many people, 'growing up' is an exciting concept, they're excited for the future, looking forward to the things they will achieve: the adventures, the wisdom, the love, the amazing job. But as you inch closer to 'another year older', nerves start to kick in. Rather than thinking of all the things that we want to do, as we did with childish awe once upon a time, we focus on all the things we haven't yet done and panic sets in. Stepping over the divide from childhood and all that lays beyond is a scary thought, right?

‘Tis the season where many of us are preparing to walk the stage at graduation and receive a piece of paper that proclaims you are now, a qualified individual. YAY! It's an exciting time that calls for celebrations (grad party, here we come!) and is the only time in your life where dressing up as a Harry Potter character, complete with gown and hat, is encouraged.

Feelings of relief/pride/excitement and nervousness will be creating waves in the pit of your stomach. Especially, when you realise this occasion signals something much larger – another beginning – entering the real working world. Cue scary, dramatic music: Dun dun dun!

This daunting yet exciting realisation makes way for that unavoidable question you’ve probably thought about, and have been asked, countless times since you were little.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Some of you have it figured out and are on the path to getting it; currently in your fourth year of medicine, working at a news station or maybe starting a plumbing traineeship. To you I say both congratulations and you suck.

For me, and perhaps many of you too, those plans haven't yet aligned. The question of 'what do I to do with my life' causes anxiety and some serious self-interrogation – good cop, bad cop style – preferably Miss Marple alongside James Bond.

Thoughts begin racing: maybe I should do teaching? Is it too late to start training to be an Olympic synchronised swimmer?

There's a worry, bubbling away in our minds, that it's somehow already too late. We're already behind the eight ball. Everyone is more prepared, more accomplished, more specialised, than us.

Obviously, this isn't the case. We have an abundance of time up our sleeve, we just need to use it wisely. To gain some perspective on this all-consuming predicament, I asked some young individuals to bestow upon Twenty Something Humans their life lessons by answering the question: What do you think about growing up and knowing what you want to do with your life?

Sharing her wisdom is a 26-year-old nurse who has just completed her second Master's degree.

“I think we are forced to make a decision about our future too early in life, a 17/18-year-old is heaps different to a 26-year-old. The pressure of getting the right mark in year 12 is too immense and you can always do something different for a little while, then change over. I think life goals change overtime, and when maturity [kicks] in, you realise the value of what you are doing is important. I think travelling is important part of “growing up” seeing how the world works in other places and how great we have it here.”

The next insight comes from a 21-year-old who is straight off the university express train.

“As I’ve neared the end of my time at university this is something that has played on my mind quite heavily. I think when we’re younger we believe that once you’re an adult you’ll have it all worked out and truly have a handle on your life, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. As I get older I realise no one has any idea what they are doing. [They] are kind of just working it out."

Lastly, we hear the prophetic words from an individual going through his self-confessed mid-20s crisis.

“Recently, I had this jolting realisation that no one truly grows up…I remember as a high school student, I would look at uni students and genuinely believe that they had their lives together. Now, having just finished uni, I'm all too aware of the fact that no one - especially myself - truly has their life together. And that's not a bad thing. Everyone goes through life with an element of pretending and guessing, like a person in a dark room feeling around the wall for a light switch that may or may not be there. That's what life is about."

Whether you are a first year uni student or a supposedly "grown up" sixty-year-old mother of two, every day we are thrown into situations of vulnerability and oddness. These situations demand us to feel uncomfortable and challenged, and mean we never really quite are ‘grown up’. As humans, we are pre-programmed for joy and wonder - the same qualities, I believe best epitomises childhood. The stresses of being an adult - be that a tedious job, or the obligations of meeting rent - place a significant strain on an adult being about to experience joy and wonder in this world. So, to be honest, I still have no idea at all what I want to ‘do’ with my life. I think society places too much emphasis on ‘doing’ in life. All I know is that I want to be in situations and jobs that can best allow others to expand their capacity for joy and wonder in their own lives, and in the world around them.”

It is here, at the ripe age of twenty-two, I would like to impart a life lesson of my own. None of us get out of this life alive. The fragility of life was taught to me in the harshest of ways, when a true and great friend recently passed away. She was only twenty-two.

Life moves so quickly. So take your time, don’t panic, and enjoy it. Be positive and enthusiastic, be grateful, dream big, push limits, talk to many, learn from experience, and never miss a moment. After all, all we have is time.

Here are some more life lessons from Tim Minchin, they're absolute pearlers.

Courtesy of The University of Western Australia/ Youtube.

Katie Thomas has long been suspect for being the maker of crop-circles due to her professional wheelie skills. She is a major fan of vanilla milkshakes and enjoys gallivanting in the sun. Kate is loving this wonderful thing called ‘life’.

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