Thoughts

We Need to Stop Following ‘Guides to Life’ and Just Live Our Lives

guide to life

A peppy infographic has been doing the rounds on social media recently. Dubbed ‘The Ultimate Guide to Life’, and first published by the Daily Fail in collaboration with Amigo Loans back in May 2015, it would appear that the infographic (which, sadly, was created in total seriousness) is still causing a stir, even almost a year on.

Even though I’m fully aware that Amigo Loans are way off the mark with their presumed milestone ages, reading The Ultimate Guide to Life remains a depressing exercise for anyone in their 20s. There’s a lot of BS in here, namely getting engaged at 25, and the small-minded assumption that everyone should have enough money in their late 30s to be able to buy property to let. The most worrying assumption is that you’re supposed to be financially secure enough to be able to buy a flat at the age of 27, and then miraculously find the funds to go on to buy a house two years later. Honestly, if I’m a homeowner by the time I’m 27, I will be absolutely buzzing. Unfortunately, merely the word ‘homeowner’ sounds too fancy to most people under 35 these days.

Although Amigo Loans’ infographic was only produced last year, and apparently based on a survey they commissioned, it’d be easy to mistake it for something conjured up ten years ago. First full-time job at 19? Since university education has become much more accessible to the masses, many young people go to university at 18, straight out of college. And buying property in your late 20s before you even begin to earn the average wage? For Generation Rent, it’s a laughable concept.

As a girl who loves a good trashy magazine binge, I’ve been raised on this sort of scaremongering through the media. Even today, online lifestyle publications love to reveal things like the right age to get married, have kids or move in with your other half. Interestingly, but hardly surprisingly, these clickbait articles are somewhat conflicted, each referring to different, highly scientific ‘studies.’ Can you smell the BS? The obvious answer is that there is no right answer: it doesn’t matter when you hit The Ultimate Guide to Life’s milestones, or even if you hit them at all. The only thing worse than comparing yourself to others is comparing yourself to some fictionalised list. After all, life’s too short to tick boxes.

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