You stopped.

Unbenannt-1

This group of people called “the Millenials” often have a problem. Or several problems.

Not all of them are completely new or may seem unimportant – yet, it bugs us. After reaching a certain age somewhere near the twenties, neurologists tell us that our brains change. We cannot learn so fast anymore, we forget things we have learnt before, and so on.

This phase happens to coincide with a stage of “higher education”, namely college or university. I will just assume, representatively for most of my peers, that we decide to go there for some kind of purpose. Many may imagine a crazy, party-filled, druggy lifestyle for a few years. Some may even go there with the expectation of broadening their horizons. Meeting people. People who are interested into the same little details that fascinate them about the subjects they chose.

My question to all of you out there: have these imaginations become true?

Did you dig deeply into the literature for your seminars? Did you get the chance to do extracurricular activities? Activities that made you a person more interesting to the companies you want to apply for? Can you now finally name your favourite theorists; do you know their birthplaces and last words?

I wouldn’t answer any of these questions with a direct “no”, yet my “yes” wouldn’t be too enthusiastic either. Of course, I had some interesting lectures. I met some people I would die for. And especially my year abroad helped my personal development. Often there are phases where I try to increase my knowledge, buy magazines from all over the world and download apps to correct my weaknesses in geography.

But I sometimes feel that all of this is not enough. I am about to write my BA thesis and feel like I haven’t gained half the basics I should have. One of the magazines I read shows me that I forgot how to math, that the statistics that I remember from my economics class are completely outdated (specifically: China’s economic power is a LOT higher now than I remember) and that I don’t update myself enough on the situation in the middle east.

It is hard to realize that school actually did a good thing by pushing all these different subjects on me. It is even harder to realize that the speed in which I learn can never match the speed that new knowledge is found by smart people all over the globe. And maybe the hardest lesson is that I have all this knowledge at my fingertips while choosing to watch funny cat videos instead.

Have I stopped learning or trying? No. I still have things I care about, specific areas of knowledge I can impress at least non-experts with. And If I keep trying, I hope to make the step to an expert in at least one of these fields. The path may look dark and scary now. But then again, I often have the feeling that I am not alone.

Am I ready for life?

It all boils down to this question. Maybe this isn’t even specifically a Millenial thing – but rather an issue for all people suffering from one crisis or another every quarter of their lives.

Any tips how to stop that from happening?

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I need pressure – will I fail?

That social influences shape every person’s practices, judgments and beliefs is a truism to which anyone will readily assent.

Solomon Asch, Opinions and Social Pressure, 1995

Pressure is something I need, I have to admit it. I’ve grown up in a society and scholar system where you weren’t rewarded for extra work that you do on your own. You need to fulfill certain aims instead: reading some chapters of a book, answering the right question or writing an essay until a set deadline. But I never imagined my “real life” to become like that – I always did extracurricular things which made me happy.

Now that I am getting closer to the end of my education – I will finish my degree by the end of the year – I have to start thinking about my future (scary stuff).

What can I do with my life? I have many things that I want to try, but most of them sound like naive fantasies of a six-year old. And the problem is: the kind of creative life that I imagine cannot be taught to me in books or lectures. How I can support myself from here on without my – luckily – generous parents still riddles me.

It’s like one of these timed tests on the internet. The pressure makes my brain race too fast – and that takes every rational thought away from me immediately. I know I can do it, but I need time and courage to finally break out of my childish cave of security and jump into my own, independent adventure. Because now that no one puts pressure on me, I am the one who has to force my way into the future.