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Opinion It's hard to survive as a 30-something in a millennial’s world

It is only now, in my thirty-second year that I realise – I really am up to my neck in this millennial world and sinking fast, writes Leah Quinn.

I WAS FULLY prepared to feel like an outsider in society when I reached my eighties.

I always imagined a silver-haired woman, who resembled me, sitting in a rocking chair,  grandchildren gathered around, her recalling her youth, a time dominated by football stickers and Saturday morning TV.

Oh, it was a simple time when kids used their hoodies as goalposts and only came home for dinner. A time when cornflakes and white sliced bread were the staples of every Irish kitchen and consumption of them was not associated with feelings of guilt. 

My grandchildren would follow the spectacular tales with wide-eyed fascination, tales of knock-and-run and Zig and Zag and playing ‘stop the bus’. 

I was prepared for that chapter of my life – and in a way, I was quietly looking forward to it.

But feeling like an ancient relic in your thirties doesn’t sit quite as comfortably. 

I often find myself gushing to some poor unfortunate of the great days spent in the nineties and early noughties, only to be met by confusion, boredom and occasional pity.

‘It wasn’t supposed to be like this’

I am 32 years old and I did not mentally prepare myself to feel like somebody’s Nana at this age.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. We were the children who happily lived on nothing in the eighties and then found ourselves on a ski slope wearing Ralph Lauren socks during the Celtic Tiger.

We were the kids who were dragged to mass every Sunday only to be told at age 13 that our parents were having doubts. 

We saw Riverdance live, Gay Byrne do the Late Late Toy Show and Nadine Coyle search for her passport. We remember Italia 90 and wish we could forget Saipan 2002.

We witnessed Ireland’s rise and then fall again, but look at us now, lost in a world where millennials reign… with nothing to cling to for comfort only our Snow Patrol albums and an old episode of Top of the Pops.

I am writing this piece as I feel compelled to voice my concern in the hope that I am not alone and that perhaps, somewhere out there there are others like me.

Those who also do not know the difference between a meme and a GIF and who lament the days of browsing in Xtravision on a Saturday.

This feeling of exclusion did not hit me like a ton of bricks but rather snuck up on me gradually and silently like water from a defrosting freezer.


It is only now, in my thirty-second year that I realise: I really am up to my neck in this millennial world and sinking fast.

I’m drowning in Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, iClouds, hashtags, bloggers, influencers, protein shakes, podcasts, fitfam, filtering, streaming, contouring, failing, goals, and #livingmybestlife. 

It is, of course, quite possible that I am the only one who feels this way – I was never up to speed on the latest technology or trends. But I think there might be others who are the same.

I recently watched Trainspotting 2 and it seemed that this was an underlying theme of that movie, all of the characters seemed to be constantly looking back on their lives, finding themselves lost and out of place in the now.

Of course, their heavy reliance on class A drugs accounted for a lot of their feelings of exclusion but Ewan McGregor’s famous ‘choose life’ speech seemed to be a great source of medication and release for him – in the 2017 world of smashed avocado and clean living.

I will leave you now with a similar mantra for other 30-somethings who may be wandering the streets, desperately trying to access the iCloud their nephew set up for them at Christmas.

Choose Life

  • Choose learning about sex from teen problem pages.
  • Choose spending half an hour flicking through the poster selection in your local music shop only to end up buying another poster of an alien smoking dope. 
  • Choose asking your friends to draw all over your school bag in Tippex.
  • Choose drilling holes into your study desk with your maths compass instead of studying for your Junior Cert.
  • Choose wearing runners, a rugby shirt and O’Neill tracksuit pants to a disco.
  • Choose being sent to Connemara for three weeks and actually writing letters to your mother.
  • Choose tie-dying t-shirts or getting a black sack full of your cousin’s cast-off clothes 
  • Choose carpet burns, Father Ted quotes, not being allowed in the good room, Christmas biscuits, pints of Fat Frog, Sunshimmer instant tan and Penney’s socks.
  • Choose just calling round to your friend instead of making a mind-numbing ‘playdate’.
  • Choose admitting your kids like chips, nuggets and slushies and don’t crave quinoa and lentils.
  • Choose buying clothes because you like how they look – not because some influencer wore them.
  • Choose physically meeting up with your friends and laughing so hard that you snort like an unattractive pig.
  • Choose taking zero photos of that interaction – because you are too busy having fun.
  • Choose giving hugs instead of likes.
  • Choose not posting photos of meals or taking videos in concerts. 
  • Choose living in the moment and simply being you. 

Leah Quinn is a freelance journalist orignally from Clare and living in London.

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