Coming of Age
17 January 2017 - By Francesco Granati, alumnus: 'I think that it’s either the 9 to 5 life, or the travel the world scenario (which tempts me every day).'
I once read in a Stephen King novel: ‘Do men ever come of age, or do they only grow up?’ This quote stuck with me, because how do we know if we are only growing up, or actually becoming adults? Do we just wake up one day with a house with a white picket fence, a garden, a few babies and toys spread all over the living room? Is that the ‘A-Ha!’ moment that comes as a sudden realization that we are indeed adults now?
I just turned 31 in December. I cannot help comparing what kind of life my parents had when they were my age. They were married, had a young baby (that would be me) and both had jobs that would have eventually - more or less - developed into lifelong careers.
Where does that leave me? Where does that leave the infamous Generation Y or Millennials? Disillusioned, spoiled and yet ambitious? I have changed two jobs in three years, still am not able to afford to have my own place with my girlfriend (God bless you, London), let alone things like marriage and babies. Though there is no particular pressure here, these are things I tend to think about quite often. Everything seems to be massively delayed for this generation. Leaving Mom and Dad’s house, getting married, having babies and work on that white picket fence. All can wait. Until when?
I spent a few days in Gent with some friends for New Year’s Eve. Aside from the main question that everyone asked (‘why did you go to Belgium for New Year’s Eve?’ I also know there are a lot of inside jokes in the Netherlands about the Belgians, and most likely vice versa), I listened in on a conversation between two of them. They were commenting on the boyfriend of a girl they knew. ‘He is a bit of a loser’, they said. ‘The classic guy who is already old with a 9 to 5 life.’ Besides thinking that it was a very easy thing to say when you are 30 and still live at your parents’ and don’t have a stable job, I thought it was quite a fascinating comment.
I live that 9 to 5 life. Does that make me ‘old’ or a ‘loser’?
I guess the point of coming of age in this case was the acceptance of the fact that yes, they definitely have a more enjoyable day to day existence than me (or perhaps simply less repetitive?), but where does that leave them in a few years from now? I think that it’s either the 9 to 5 life, or the travel the world scenario (which tempts me every day), but my two friends are not doing either. Does that sound too extremist, pretending there is no in between? If there is a grey area, I cannot see it yet.
Long story short, what is it that I want to say today?
Coming of age is unavoidable, but I don’t think there is a clear line to cross to go from ‘youngster’ to adult. It’s an ongoing process and I believe that sooner or later, you better get started with it. Eventually, it catches up with you and leaves you even more disillusioned with that uncanny feeling of ‘this is not how my life should have been by now’. Point is, it is your life and you just have this one. Unless you want to go and travel the world (absolutely legitimate and super cool) – there is not that much you can do in between. Is a 9 to 5 life exciting? I wouldn’t say so. But then again you have to start somewhere.
Francesco Granati (31) completed the Master’s programme in Communication Science (track Persuasive Communication) in 2014.