I have finally decided why I am alive. And despite this sounding a lot more dramatic than I mean for it to, it’s entirely true. Up until about a half a year ago, I had no real clue what I was doing and was finding my initial introduction into the working world lacklustre and depressing. I questioned if I had even “made the right decision”. I was supposed to be travelling the world, going on adventures, and breathing it all in with young lungs, walking it all with strong legs, photographing every second non-stop. Not sitting in a poorly cushioned chair, finally experiencing back pain for the first time of my life, wondering if it was a sign of me aging or a sign of a really shitty chair and my newfound sedentary existence or some sort of combination of the both.

I was disappointed at the lies sold to me about adulthood. To finally be given some sort of freedom and then be tied down by the simple fact that day to day adult life – or maybe life in general – is not all that eventful. We look to film characters or the few graced with the income and mobility to do and see it all, expecting our lives to unfold just like that movie, just like that person’s. But it doesn’t. Because there isn’t a lighting crew or a perfect script. And no one ever goes to the bathroom in films. (That should have been the dead giveaway if you ask me.)

But a few months into my new job, things sort of shifted. Once I made junior designer, I was finally making a paycheck that I could live from. At 27 I could finally be the kind of adult I always wanted to be. I’m counting every penny, and I have a set amount of days I can take off, but I am okay with that for the time being.

You see, for the first time in my life I have that adult kind of responsibility. I am responsible for getting shit done at work because I have a lot of people counting on me. I am responsible for myself because if I fuck up, I and I alone will be stuck with the consequences. I am sure this sense of responsibility coupled with the fact that I am working really hard on myself on an emotional level has lifted me out of that general 20-something-year-old-malaise that is infecting millions of people my age everywhere. But the biggest part of why I am finally feeling as if I have some purpose, is because I finally do.

I come from a really privileged background, which I am very thankful for. It paid for my college education and allowed me to stay in Germany for as long as I have before making junior. But with privilege comes it’s own set of challenges and chains. You have every possible opportunity open to you, but in a way you cannot fully exercise any of it when you are technically still a child under the thumb of parents with the purse strings. But with financial independence comes actual freedom – even if that freedom is tempered by a 10-7 work schedule.

For so long I dragged my feet, never really making any full professional commitments because I didn’t technically have to. I had the luxury of being indecisive. Dinner was going to land on the table regardless of what I did, and it was probably going to be served by a waiter in one of my favorite restaurants. But this indecisiveness also lead to stymied ambition and made everything fall really flat.

I like to think that I am a conscious person. That I am the kind who considers things and fights against all forms of inequalities. But over these last few months, I have to say that I can truly see things I never was able to see before – hard as I might have tried. And it makes sense when you think of other forms of privilege – but somehow I never made the full connection that just as a white heterosexual will never know what it is like to be a black homosexual, a person coming from a privileged economic background could not actually begin to understand what it was really like to struggle.

But living from my own paycheck allows me to finally see why buying toothpaste for 50 cents less DOES make a difference, or why I can’t actually eat out every night if I still hope to have electricity, or why I cannot afford to be careless because I will go into debt if I am. Granted, if anything really goes pear-shaped, I know that my parents can help me – which means I still do have privilege at my fingertips, should I choose to use it. But I haven’t done so yet, and don’t plan on doing so either.

I think a lot of people who grew up privileged are at an emotional disadvantage. When everything is at your fingertips, nothing is really that meaningful. Of course you try hard and your own merits help you land opportunities. But to never have to truly work for anything of any monetary value – be it your rent or the occasional consumer good – makes acquiring them really meaningless. Having to keep a budget, breaking down and crying after having to pay an 80 Euro fine and knowing you have less than 200 euros to make it until the end of the month is incredibly hard, but it also makes succeeding at work, earning your keep, and paying your own bills that much more meaningful. And when things do work out, you feel that much more victorious.

Listen, I am not saving the world. Nor do I have any delusions that my “work” will further mankind. I work for a payback system, for Christ’s sake. But I am finally the master of my own world and my integrity comes from the fact that I work fully for everything that comes my way. And this has given my life a newfound sense of purpose and meaning. And this, in turn, makes everything else I hope to experience and achieve in life finally have meaning once again.

I want to travel the world on my own budget (even if I have to do it constrained to my working contract). I want to see it all. Every god damned last beautiful thing that this earth has to offer. I want to be a mother. To raise a family. To live consciously, and most importantly, with kindness and integrity. Because as lacklustre as real adult life is, life is what you make of it.

Now I’m not going to feed you any of that “If-said-“successful”-person-can-do-it-so-can-you” bullshit, because let’s face it. People living picture perfect lives have generally worked hard, but have also had luck or some sort of privilege which has helped speed up the process. But what I am saying is that we define meaning in our lives, and we decide if we grow to be people worthy of our own respect. We also decide what perspective we will view the world with. And even if those weekend adventures are only that and not a year-long excursion through, say Southeast Asia, it is no less exciting or meaningful. I mean, I’m still trying to convince my boyfriend to pitch our tent in the living room and have a staycation one weekend with me. Because with good company, a good heart, a bit of imagination, and a positive outlook, every day turns into an adventure.

photography: Sandro
editing: Rae Tashman

Stay conscious, Rae


Rae Tilly

Rae the EIC of LFB and YEOJA Magazine. She is also a photographer and social media influencer.


  • Great post. I, too, have always had the privilege of my parents to help me up when I fall, and I admit they came to my aid a few times during my first few months in Berlin… but one of the reasons I moved away was to experience life without a safety net, so to speak, and I’m so glad I did, because I think it taught me a level of responsibility beyond what I already knew. Good to hear that you are making it, and finding joy and satisfaction in doing that on your own!

    • rae

      Thank you so much, Natalye. I think that the only real true way to grow is to do so without a safety net. I have learned more in these past few months than I have over years. How are you liking live in Berlin by the way?

      • I am loving Berlin. I have been here almost four years and am pretty settled in now, so I don’t always feel the need to go out and do and see everything like I did in the first year or two. Sometimes I guess that makes me feel unhip, or like a homebody, but at the same time, I guess that’s the true mark of feeling comfortable some place–that you can be happy living there and not always “taking advantage” of all it has to offer but just loving the every day. What about you? Do you see yourself staying here?

        • rae

          Oh Wow I had no idea that you have been living here for so long. I have been here around the same time (5+) – Honestly, I think that going out is a lot of fun in Berlin, but a lot of the people whom you see going out all the time are living here for only 1 or 2 years so their mindset and approach is going to be more the “get everything you can out of berlin and party hard” mindset. I came here originally to work and live here so although I do love going out and coming home at 10 am, it’s not a priority. And honestly, you should never feel “unhip” because of it.

          Recently the last times I have gone out in any case, I feel like the clubs are just full of teenagers and early 20 year olds trying to be find their identity. It’s all a bit too try hard to me.

  • What a great open post about reflecting yourself!
    Adulthood isn’t always piece of cake. Just like you
    I am counting and saving all my hard earned
    penny’s, making time for good fun things and rest
    Anyway, I wish you a good job life c: Love the
    self pic of you! Xx http://icepandora.blogspot.com

    • rae

      Thank you so much!

  • Alissa Gromova

    I cant read english very well dear, but I love your pictures, its so expressive and you are so beautiful girl!!!



    • rae

      No worries Alissa, and thank you so much for your sweet comment.

  • You have such beautiful photographs on your blog! You’re right; adulthood can feel a bit of a let down at first, and it’s certainly a struggle, but it sounds as though you’re learning some important truths and making the most out of your life and opportunities given to you, which can only count as success! xx

    • rae

      Thank you so much Miranda. I am so glad that you enjoyed this post and my blog.

  • Augusta Mikkelsen

    Wow! Just found your blog and it’s completely amazing. Im so.. inspired, must be the right word. You totally got a new follower<3


    • rae

      Thank you so much, Augusta, I am so glad that you enjoy it.

  • One of the most authentic and raw posts I’ve come across recently!

    • rae

      Thank you so much :)

  • Such a relatable post, and couldn’t agree more about the first step into adulthood.

    Annabel ♥
    Mascara & Maltesers

    • rae

      Thanks so much Annabel.

  • This was a really interesting post to read! You seem happy which is good! x

    Josie’s Journal

    • rae

      Thanks Josie, glad you enjoyed it!

  • What a great and honest post! I can only imagine how liberating it must feel to love what you’re doing!

    • rae

      Thanks so much carolyn!

  • Adulthood is scary. Nobody prepares you for it so I totally get where you’re coming from. I graduated last year and it was like BANG, I’m in the full-time working world now. Scary stuff lol X


    • rae

      Adulthood really is scary. I hope you are enjoying life after college though!

  • I really enjoyed this post, Rae! Adulthood’s definitely something that I’m coming to terms with, and think about a lot. I’m glad to hear that you sound really content at the moment, though :)

    • rae

      Thank you so much, Mani! So glad you liked it. I think that coming to terms with being an adult is as long process – I mean when you think about it, we stay a kid for about 12 years and a teenager for another handful and then enter what is actually young adulthood (contrary to this label being used for books geared towards 12-16 year olds!) in our 20s and then somehow transition to full adult hood which we remain in for a few good decades, so it is natural that it will take us some time to figure it all out!

  • I loved this post. And it’s something that I’m facing every day here.. although I’m not yet at the stage where I can actually live and save off of my paycheck. I’m happy that you’re in the place you are, though :)

    • rae

      I am so glad that you enjoyed this post. And I am sure you will get there. :)

  • McKenna

    Thanks so so so much for sharing your story. I love how honest you are, I’m still in high school, trying to figure out this whole college & career thing. It’s going to be tough and I’m so happy you have found what it is you are looking for.


    • rae

      I am really glad that you enjoyed this post, McKenna. I am sure you will do just fine in life and I wish nothing but the best for you in your college years. To be honest, it is so rare these days to actually go into a field that you majored in in college, so just enjoy this time as a period to explore more about yourself and your interests. And in the end, if you want the honest truth, your 20s are going to be a lot of the same – really finding out who you are but without the cushion and safety of a university with a dorm room and a meal plan. But it is so exciting and very worth it.

  • You are absolutely stunning and your blog is amazing!!! I get where you are coming from, its hard to figure it all out, I def still am and I really doubt myself sometimes. Being in your 20s is so difficult and confusing, I’m 22 a senior in college.


    • rae

      Thank you so much Heather for your kind words. 20s are some of the most confusing and shitty times but also the best and most eye opening. Wishing you all the best in your senior year and onwards.

  • I can totally relate to this post. I know how you feel:)
    Thanks for checking out my blog. I am following you now

    • rae

      Really glad that you were able to connect with this post and thanks for following!

  • This was beautiful to read Rae, and so inspiring and uplifting and I share so many of your sentiments, I live paycheck to paycheck and at 26, I want to find more direction.
    Also, you really make me want to re-open my septum piercing.

    • rae

      I am so glad that you could connect to this post, Erin. And you should definitely go for a septum piercing! It is one of my favorite piercings to date!

  • alessia sica


    Alessia Sica

    Blog The New Art of Fashion

    • rae

      thanks alessia.

  • Stephanie Louise

    Hey Rae! x Really strong and meaningful words. I know a lot of readers can relate. Our fortunate backgrounds are very alike. After having everything paid for and given to you up until you’re early 20s or later, it’s like, “Oh crap, how do I enter the ‘real world’?” Its a little difficult at first. For me the problem is not to spend all my money on clothes plus having my generous parents. I don’t think ahead to needing my own place one day because there’s a home here. Having your own paycheck puts so much in perspective, every penny counts and saving is a big thing we all have to learn :)


    • rae

      Thank you Stephanie. I am really glad that you enjoyed this post.

  • Sonia Verardo

    Great thoughts! I agree with what you’ve said, it means growing up and being responsable and wanting to create something out of your life.
    xo from Italy,
    Sonia Verardo

    • rae

      Thanks Sonia, glad you could connect to this post.

  • KK

    Found this blog via Rotten-One. Great entry. Really thought-provoking.

    • rae

      Really glad that you enjoyed this post. Thank you.

  • This post is beautiful :) I can only say: Same here. Same background, same story. Only that I’m 22 and just started working at an (stylist’s) office besides going to university and I experienced the same things. I wonder if I will ever find a job that makes me happy – I really hope so. But travelling the world is still on my to-do-list.



    • rae

      Thank you so much, Malin. I am sure that you will find a job that will make you happy and I really hope that you are able to travel to all the places you would like to visit as well.

  • Corinne C

    I can relate to the first part of your post, the lies about adult hood. It’s so strange to think I’m 28 years old and I’m still thinking of ‘when I’m an adult’, like I’m still a child waiting for things to click into places.

    Glad things are going well for you and good luck,
    Corinne x

    • rae

      I think it is actually quite normal in our generations to not really be fully settled until 35. So many of us in our mid to late twenties are still trying to figure it out but I also think that is okay and even though it is difficult, is in some way a luxury to even have the time to have these worries.

  • Ah this and and all of this! I totally get you with the privilege thing. While my parents aren’t millionaires, we were never ‘without’. I never asked for much but that’s because I already had everything I needed. I wasn’t the spoilt only child but I wasn’t disadvantaged either and as a result I think I’ve been conditioned to this idea that everything will just be there for me, waiting for me on a silver platter. Life ain’t like that though (as I’m sure you know). Stepping out of university into full time work was such a culture shock and I no longer had my safety blanket around me and I struggled emotionally for years and still do this day I suffer anxiety. It’s strange how it works but I’m only just starting to see the benefit of being my own person, my own adult and I feel like it’s only going to improve as I start to move out and settle down in my life.

    Thanks for writing the words I’ve been meaning to say for a while x

    • rae

      It means a lot to me, Samantha, that you were able to connect to this post. Entering the real world can be very scary and I can only imagine that having to deal with this as well as anxiety is not easy. I wish only the best for you and am glad you are beginning to see the positive aspects of being your own person and being an adult :)

  • Kris

    What a beautiful soul you are and this honest post.

    • rae

      thank you so much Kris, it means a lot to me.

  • Nancy Wilde

    “But with financial independence comes actual freedom – even if that freedom is tempered by a 10-7 work schedule.” – Yeah, we can’t have everything, can we? Sure some can… privileged ones, I guess. In order to save money to travel, I had to renounce my freedom and privacy aka living with parents in a very stressy atmosphere. I totally get your struggle, it’s not easy being an adult, specially a young adult. It’s challenging and scary and if you’re a pessimist like me then it’s even worse ahah! My parents never had the funds to help me – I guess I could blame them for the fact that I never had the money to pay for the Photography School or something like that but they can’t help their own misery, really. I’m actually quite proud of me being the one helping them. The thing is, someone was luckier than me and made it because there was a way to make it possible. I always think the worst thing that might happen to me is ending up in utter misery, begging on the streets, and even then… I’ll still be alive! If there’s life, there’s hope, or at least, survival. It’s comforting that so many people our age feel the same way and we can all relate, bond and connect… And it’s not a good idea comparing our lives to others, like “Oh, that girl has a career and has been to Asia and I never left Europe…” and I tend to dwell on self-pity and comparation, which only makes one unhappy and frustrated. Now, if you’re feeling down, just open the window, raise a glass of wine and shout “YES WE CAN!” like Obama but funnier. Because some of us can, right? Great post babe! xx

    • rae

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Nancy. I think this is something that many people in our generation struggle with – whether they come from privileged backgrounds or not – we just are exposed to so much through social media and old fashioned media as well that make us constantly strive for a life we might see on instagram or a blog or on reality tv that seems so much more full of opportunity. It can be difficult not to but the best thing to do is to focus on ourselves and making our individual lives (and the lives of our loved ones) the kind we want to live. At the end of the day living with integrity is so much more important than having a new car and although it is hard to see that when you are struggling to pay the bills each month, it’s important to remember that the lives people tend to envy are only curated snippets.

  • dsfvd

    Great styling. You look perfectly. You have a great figure. I’ll be here often to look and wait for new styling.


  • Vaida Tamošauskaitė

    your writing and yourself, and that picture at the top – all so dreamy, so perfect. i think i got a crush on you, haha! :)
    Vaida @ http://www.donttellanyone.net/blog

    • rae

      Aw you are too sweet! Thanks so much, Vaida!