Throughout my awkward teens I took a great amount of solace in the notion that my twenties would be smoother, more logical, and less populated by arseholes. After two years of being very firmly In My Twenties, I have learned this: your early twenties are the most misrepresented and falsely advertised part of your life.
It's not that I don't appreciate all that is going for me: a good education, lovely parents, nice boobs - but I can't help but feel that for the first half of your twenties, the world simply has no idea what to do with you.
In all likelihood, you don’t earn much more than you did when you were 19. Yet, somehow, the world expects you to live independently, wear suitable office clothing, eat three meals a day, know what B2B stands for, open a bottle of champagne and own a pair of sensible court shoes that go with everything. Which would be fine if after you did all this work, you weren't dismissed by employers outright for 'not having enough experience'.
I left university with an English degree, three years of work experience, and a job freelancing for this very paper. As 21-year-olds go, I thought I was a friggin’ catch for prospective employers. Since then, I've worked two media jobs, where I was paid in 'generous expenses' in central London. I had a blast: made amazing friends, learnt important skills. But am I any closer to succeeding in my chosen career?
Recruiters contact me for jobs in call centres. When I tentatively tell them that I want a job with a potential future, and that I already have a phone job, I'm snippily dismissed with a curt "maybe you should do an internship then". I’ll struggle to reply “But… I’ve already done that.” I can already hear the phone hit the receiver.
I'm not trying to suggest I'm special: I'm not doing anything different to most of my contemporaries. I have friends who have done three internships, only to finish each with a 'Well, you've been a big help. Don't slam the door on your way out.'