Today’s media is all-pervasive. Mainstream media, in all its forms, from broadsheets to adverts, is perpetually telling us things. And what they are telling young women constantly is this: be afraid. Be afraid of dying alone, be afraid of getting fat, be afraid of being poorer than your friends. We are told that there is a single path to happiness and success, and that we really ought to be further along it.
I refuse to be afraid. I refuse to worry about every decision I make, panicking that the consequences will see me dying in a garret like some sort of sexually unfulfilled Fantine. So, without further ado, here are ten media monsters that seem shit scary but in fact are absolutely nothing to worry about:
1.) Being single and unemployed in your late twenties
Being single in your late twenties does not mean that you will never amount to anything, or that you’ll have to live out the rest of your days in my parents’ basement, emerging blinking into the light just in time for your night-shift at the local ESSO garage. (Ironically, of course, you will not be able to afford a car, and therefore your ‘employee discount’ will go to waste). So you’re picky? So what? It’s good to be picky. Maybe you’ll get married, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll be rich (unlikely, but surprises are good), and maybe you’ll always run out of money a week before payday. Does it, in the grand scheme of things, really matter? Nope.
2.) Eating that Snickers bar.
If you choose to eat a snickers bar, it does not mean that you will never be able to have children, or that you ill-gotten children will be feral and ASBO-festooned tearaways. Nor will you become immediately obese or get cancer. All those things MIGHT happen (and I hope they don’t), but not because you popped into Londis for a blood sugar boost when you had a hangover.
3.) Your kids turning out shitty
If certain media is to be believed, this will all be down to you being a working mother. Or a helicopter parent. Or somewhere in the middle. You can’t win, so ignore them and don’t try. To be honest, I have never worried about my (hypothetical) kids being anything but truly, magnificently excellent. ‘Don’t watch ‘We need to talk about Kevin’, My friend told me anxiously. ‘You’ll panic about what you might give birth to.’ ‘I won’t,’ I replied staunchly. ‘I already know exactly what my kids are going to be like. Tremendous.’
4.) Marrying the wrong person
People seem frantically worried about this. I’m not sure why. All you need to do is find someone who is kind, thinks you’re hilarious, and will always bring you a sausage sandwich when you’re hungover. In an ideal world, they would also like the other part of the chicken to you, but marriage is all about compromise. Sometimes, you simply have to buy two chickens.
YOU’LL BE INVISIBLE! INVISIBLE! AND NO ONE WILL WANT TO SHAG YOU! Actually, FYI, I’ve been preparing for old-lady sex my entire life. It will be spectacularly effortless. I can’t wait.
6.) Never finding love
Are you afraid of never finding love, and everyone else coupling off and leaving you? I mean, obviously they won’t leave you all alone forever- they’ll still need you to bitch about their partners, babysit their kids, housesit their lovely family home whilst they take idyllic vacations, and you’ll certainly be invited to all the dinners and parties and so on, but you’ll have no-one to dissect these events with, or to fetch you a glass of water the morning after. Basically, you’re not worried about this at all- you’re worried that you’ll forget to pay the water bill, and that your hangover will never go away. The worry is actually about water supply, not love. You’re basically Bono.
7.) That you’re Bono
You’re not Bono. The impending environmental apocalypse, Third World drought, overpopulation and nuclear holocaust are all valid concerns. Worrying about them does not make you a twat, or, as the loveable James Dellingpole at The Telegraph would have it, a deluded climate change evangelist. You’re green on the outside but RED ON THE INSIDE. YOU’RE A COMMUNIST! You dirty Pinko hippie, it’s all made up nonsense, and we can carry on milking the earth’s natural resources faster than a six year old whose mother won’t stop breastfeeding, and it’ll all be A-OK. IGNORE THIS, and go to the Guardian for environmental info in future. Yes, it’s scary. But it’s a more productive use of your time than worrying that your eyebrows aren’t plucked symmetrically.
8.) Your Pension
Newspapers have a tendency of making you worry that everyone else is making sneaky financial plans and that you’re the only one who isn’t. This doesn’t matter at all at the moment, as nobody I know has any money whatsoever and those who have even a few quid are forced to spend it feeding and watering their poorer friends in a ‘forced and entirely grudging Robin Hood-type model’, but I think it will matter enormouslyin the future. To avoid this, I have been asking my friends about their pension and ISA plans, but everyone has been deflecting with blank stares and confused faces. Turns out, no one has their shit sorted.
9.) Having it all
I have never met ONE person who is worried about this. Women I know who have children and a career almost never speak of ‘having it all’. They are too busy. In fact, very little of what I see in mainstream media corresponds with what I see in my actual, real-life life. I am yet to meet anyone who ‘eats what they want, but just keeps active and is a healthy size 4!’ So you can stop worrying about that, too.
10.) Things no longer being fun
They will be. If only because we won’t all be worrying so much. I imagine we will waste most of our adult lives still panicking about this, but there must come a time, when we’re tucked in our futuristic beds, gnawing on post sex roast chicken with a plentiful supply of water, our angelic children asleep in their rooms, that we realise that everything’s going to be OK. Well, better late than never.
See? There’s no reason to be afraid. We, as educated, independent, informed women, are in the best position possible to create happy futures for ourselves. We have choices- real, meaningful choices that good women and men fought for us to have. We have possibilities- possibilities which include refusing to accept a single path leads to happiness and success. We do not have to accept the fear they are trying to make obligatory. Douglas Coupland, in his novel ‘Generation X’ speaks of a ‘paralysis of choice’- the inability to make a decision because it means turning your back on other options. I don’t care what choices you make- but be brave enough to make them. And today, right now, make the choice to stop being afraid. Maybe everything will be OK, and maybe it will be dreadful. But at least you had the courage to make your own choices. And that, in and of itself, is a tremendously good shield against fear. Believe it, ladybros.