Just in

The dilemmas of uncertain times

The other day it occurred to me that in these uncertain and troubled times one of the few advantages of being an oldie is that one doesn’t have to worry about how to obtain a decent job and make one’s way in the world.

For good or ill, whether by now one has become a multi-millionaire basking in luxury or a semi-pauper surviving in somewhat strained circumstances, at least one can look back upon both a career and a lifetime of varied experiences.

I remember some decades ago now my father-in-law once smiling as he confided to me “If only I had known what I know now when I was in my youth …

I responded that his thrust didn’t make any sense.

Arguably, to know as much as an eighty year-old when one was twenty would be soul-destroying and horrendous.

The whole point of being young is that – whether on the verge of adulthood (or even a year or two beyond it) and although you know comparatively little – you are not only brimful with energy and optimism but also filled a desire to explore the apparently limitless opportunities available in the world and (hopefully) an ambition to achieve any goal that you can ever imagine or conceive.

From that stage onwards, of course, you collide with reality and then gradually learn to appreciate that inevitably, despite the advances and plusses that you gratefully clasp to your bosom whenever they come along, there are also other factors abroad – eventually the ageing process to name but one – that gradually intervene to impose increasing restraints and limitations.

It’s in the nature of life for every species on Earth.

I do feel for those who are going to be taking “A” levels this year, or facing three years at university, or just coming onto the jobs market this year.

The degree of uncertainty as to what jobs and careers will be available to them – in their present form or perhaps something quite different – must be deeply worrying.

Decades ago now – in my time – it still used to be the case that, after someone had completed their academic studies and then set out to make their way in whatever walk of life they had chosen, they could normally expect to spent forty years or more in the same outfit and then go on to enjoy a comfortable retirement.

More recently – in the past twenty years or so – it has become the norm to expect to have three, four or five different jobs during a lifetime.

The situation facing youngsters today, as we hopefully approach the end of the pandemic proper – it seems to me – is the blanket uncertainty as to what the future holds.

I’ve got to be brutally honest here, I sympathise with them.

If, when I was a youngster going into my first real job, I’d been told that inevitably I’d be moving on to another three or four over the course of my future working lifetime, I’d have found that a daunting prospect.

But to have no idea whether you’re going to ever to get a job at all, still less one you might want, must be worse.

 

About J S Bird

A retired academic, Jeremy will contribute article on subjects that attract his interest. More Posts