Can I be 18 forever, please?

Can I be 18 forever, please?

I think I’m having a quarter life crisis.

It all began when I realised 21 would officially be my last significant birthday till I turn 30. T-H-I-R-T-Y.

Then my dad gave me the papers to my car. I read over the papers, confused. Why did he give me these? He deals with all this car stuff…. Then I read my name on the papers. Oh shit. The menacing statement that had been dangled over my head for the past three years replayed in my mind, “I’m only paying for everything up until you finish university.”

3 years ago that seemed such a distant threat, but now that I am finishing uni in June I can already see the bills – phone bill: $100, car insurance: $1000, health insurance: JUST TAKE MY SOUL.

Or at least I will be.

Oh and did I mention I’m moving houses too? You could say I’ve had some sleepless nights recently.

When I thought about turning 21 as a kid I thought I’d definitely have my shit together. Ignorantly I thought I’d be working at some glamorous magazine, or travelling the world doing press for my bestselling book. So to still be at university and interning for free around working for actual money at my retail job, makes me feel like I’ve already failed.

So not only do I have my dad’s dialogue playing on repeat in my head, I have my own which tends to go a bit like this:

What am I doing with my life?

Should I have a proper job by now?

Why aren’t I rich and successful yet?

Maybe I’m not ambitious enough?

No, no that can’t be it.

Okay, maybe that’s it.

Maybe I should look at the jobs available?

Omg there’s nothing. I’ll just die now.

It’s a weird age, 21. All of a sudden you’re in the real world. People expect things of you. They want you to actually do stuff – adult stuff, like cook and wash your own clothes. People I know are even getting engaged and having babies and successful careers. And I’m like WTF I caught a train to work for the first time the other day and it was the proudest moment of my life thus far. True story.

You’re engaged? I can’t even commit to what I’m having for lunch.

It’s weird because you want to be treated like an adult, to be respected and taken seriously. But you also would still like pocket money, your clothes washed and ironed once a week, and dinner on the table by 7pm. It’s also weird because I’ve found that 50% of me is content being the girl who does yoga, drinks green tea, reads books, and goes to bed early; while the other 50% of me wants to wear my sexiest outfit and do shots in a strip club while dancing to dirty music until I black out #YOLO.

It’s a catch 21.

With overachievers talented people like Mark Zuckerberg around – who created his $80 billion dollar company (that little thing called Facebook) by the time he was 21- it’s easy to feel inadequate. Or Lauren Dekker who sailed around the world solo when she was just 14. And here I am thinking it’s an achievement to learn how to catch public transport.

When all these comparisons and expectations flood my thoughts, I often think back to being 18. Ah, the good old days. Where metabolisms were fast, responsibilities were low and alcohol-intake high. No one expects anything from an 18-year-old. Well, apart from being irresponsible. Yes, it was only 3 years ago that I was 18, but the days where I could stay out past 12am without thinking about work the next day seems like another life time.

I can, but I don’t wanna

So there you have it. My quarter life crisis – if I live till 84, that is.

But hey, you’re only as young as you feel, right?

Memoirs from a Media Student

I don’t know about you, but when I say I’m studying media at uni the common response is, “Oh media. Isn’t that dying or something?” My answer usually ranges anywhere from “Well actually I want to work in magazines which have only dropped 13% compared to newspapers which have dropped 20%” to “Yep its dying.”

I remember the first time I knew I wanted to write. I was 16 and I had just finished Mia Freedman’s book, Mama Mia. I fell in love with the way she wrote, with lashes of humour and real life pain. At the time I was seeking direction with what course I should do once I finish school. My dad recommended I email her asking for advice on university courses and what I can do to fulfil my dream of becoming an esteemed writer. Days later I received an email me saying she is too busy to reply personally and the tips I need are in the book. They weren’t.

So I remained uncertain. I mean what’s the difference between a Bachelor of Arts Media at Macquarie and a Bachelor of Communications at UTS? Neither of my parents went to university and there wasn’t a whole lot of information coming from my public high school at that stage. I had to take a chance and picked the university that most suited me. Not because of the pretty trees that everyone seems so fond of at Macquarie, but because I couldn’t fathom the idea of catching public transport to UTS everyday.

I was greeted with open arms at Macquarie university in 2011 by the much-loved MMCS115 (Academic Cultures) MMCS115 taught me the fundamental key of group work which is: Make sure you do the entire project yourself because your group members will drop off the face of the planet two weeks before it’s due. It also taught me Freud’s theory. Overall two things I could have lived without. Half way through this subject I had a quarter-life crisis; I dropped out, cried a lot, partied a lot, ate everything in my path and had to start all over again the next semester with four fails already under my belt. Joy.

I made it through the next two years by the skin of my teeth. Designing a video game, really? I seriously considered paying someone to do it for me. I struggled to find the motivation to even attend class and my marks reflected my lack of interest. By MAS215 and the whole psychoanalysis thing I was ready to throw in the towel. I mean I didn’t really want to know that the 7 dwarfs represented Snow White’s unborn children.

But I stuck with it (obviously) and was pleasantly surprised by literary journalism and travel writing in the first semester of this year. My tutor, Bunty Avieson, reunited my love for writing that had been lost on the way. In my third year I finally began to write the articles and gain the guidance and tools that I expected in my first year. I started to realise some of the things I had learnt weren’t completely useless. I mean there’s power in higher education, right Foucault?

This semester Michael Sheather from Women’s Weekly was a guest speaker at Macquarie for MAS316 (Media Futures). Michael reaffirmed my hopeful belief that the magazine industry isn’t dead, just a little bit challenged. He said he believed in magazines’ future, despite broadening platforms because they are tailored to their audience. He talked about how roles are changing, and convergence is ever present. Which got me thinking… What’s really changed for our generation? We hear about this ‘new age’ of online media in pretty much every MAS subject. But who is it new for? As Gen Ys, the ‘online world’ has existed most of our lives. Posting updates on Twitter or a photo on Instagram is simply common knowledge. Our smart phones are an extension of who we are.

We are the product of this convergent evolution and because of that we have the modern skill set to match. We take selfies, we travel, we create subcultures around the world, and we even watch lectures online… We understand media on a deeper level. We can be creative with it in new ways that stand to resuscitate the industry that those before us couldn’t. Armed with my shiny (upcoming) media degree I truly believe success is imminent if the hard work is there.

Media has opened my eyes to a whole new and diverse world of being an active consumer and a critical analysis of the news society is fed. It might not write my blog for me but it taught me HOW to write, and placed me in an environment where I started to consider how the hell I was going to separate myself from the hundreds of other people with the exact same degree, and that sometimes seem a little smarter than me.

It has given me the basis to explore career paths and expand my knowledge of an industry I realise 3 years ago I knew little about. This year it pushed me to finally apply for an internship after hearing countless teachers and guest speakers stress the importance of knowledge within the industry. I landed an internship at Prevention Magazine within Channel 7’s Pacific Magazines, and it was one of the best things I have ever done. The office at Prevention has harboured creativity that had been stifled by years of media theory and boring classroom activities. On my first day I transcribed an interview for three hours and by the end of it I was dying to write the article myself. I can’t say that usually happens in the creative hub of my study at home.

Media studies has also has helped me answer the age-old question that is asked of me at every family lunch or by anyone over forty…

“So what do you want to do when you finish at uni?”

Right now I want to finish this year, continue my internship and continue to post on my blog weekly. Through my internship I am gaining the experience, making the connections and getting the insight I need to eventually work within the magazine industry.

New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell recently wrote an article saying that it takes 10 000 hours to master complex fields. I calculated the hours I will have spent at university by the time I have finished my degree. It’s about 700 hours on class and lecture time, factor in time spent on assessments and studying, and I might have JUST cracked a thousand hours.

I think it’s safe to say I have a long way to go before I am the master of media and magazines. But at least now when people ask me what I want to do once I finish, I have an answer for them. I can’t shrug it off any longer as the end of my course is just around the corner. So now when I’m asked that inevitable question, I say I would like to be a feature writer.