Is the glass half empty or half full? When I was younger, I would hear people talking about the life crisis that inevitably came with your 30th birthday but I didn’t really believe in it. I made fun of that generation, so distant and old that I never really thought I would be a part of it. And yet here I am, watching my 30th birthday advance ever closer with an impetuous stride. It really is a very uncomfortable age because you are somehow both a young and immature adult and a grown-up teenager. You have some knowledge of life yet that irresistible impulse to conquer the world still pulses in your veins. You are both aware and unaware of what awaits, grown-up yet not grown-up enough, convinced you have your future perfectly mapped out yet aware that this plan might implode at any given moment. A middle ground which, for minor control freaks like me, sends us into confusion if not full crisis mode.
Following this pessimistic preamble, you must be expecting me to reply to my initial question with, “definitely half empty, if not totally drained”. Yet, due to a series of events—namely various pandemics, crises and reassessments of myself and the world—I actually see a full jug. We’re not so bad in the end. Being not entirely mature adults allows us to experiment and to fail, to come and go as we please. I hear tell of incurable nostalgics who would give anything to return to the puerile naivety and uncontrollable, almost destructive, emotions of adolescence, but what these people don’t realise is that the limbo of being 30-years-old is absolutely incredible. When will we ever be both young and adult at the same time? When will we ever be able to act without too much fear of the consequences? Never. I wouldn’t define myself a positive person by any stretch of the imagination although you might think differently upon reading these words, but I have realised that I don’t want to go back. I don’t think I have the strength to go through those troubled years again, merely for the chance to change the odd tiny thing. Reality doesn’t change. I am quite convinced that if I went back I would do the same things all over again so what’s the point?
It is often said that technology has been our downfall, ruining our ability to interact with other people and the world. However, once again trying to see the glass half full, I believe that technology and evolution have saved us. We are in the throes of immense change that is entirely beyond our control so all we can do is let ourselves be rocked by events and absorb the best bits. Thanks to progress, we are now experts on all the most banal things: how to cook, how to iron a shirt or how to grow vegetables on the balcony. We have also created a community that for many is family, a place in which to talk of diversity and discomfort, a place in which we feel understood perhaps because of the simple fact that a screen stands between us and the problem. We feel both exposed and protected at the same time. We are children of our generation and, despite the criticism of generations past and antiquated, we have learnt to manage the means available to us and create a space in the world, making it our own and making it better.
These are not delusional or groundless thoughts. During 2021, Google Trends recorded a series of searches that would suggest a shift in common thinking towards a more constructive and positive direction. Our generation wants to establish its internet searches and desires in the mainstream and aspires to create new trends for a more constructive future. The past no longer belongs to us and looking forward is the first real trend to define us. Searches for the nearest sunset have reached an all-time high, we have decided to stop and take time for ourselves in the daily chaos. Children have learned to make productive use of their time, developing their imagination by playing jokes on their parents. We are more interested in being anti-racist than rich, just as searches for “how to donate” came in above searches for “how to save”. One of the most searched topics was “how to become a programmer” but “how to cut your own hair” also reached record highs, short at the front and long at the back. “How to change the world” was searched twice as many times as “how to return to normality”. And these Google Trends are simply the reflection of the thoughts of our generation and our desire to move forward. We don’t know what the future holds but we’re sure (we hope) it will be better than the past.
So, as we were saying, is the glass half full or half empty? I like to think that it’s full and I will continue to do so, just until this quarter-life crisis is over.