I’m exactly one month shy of my 24th birthday and I won’t lie to you – I am totally lost. It’s a completely normal phenomenon for people my age and yet I didn’t expect it to feel or look anything like this. In fact, I was the type of little girl who always knew what she wanted, always had a plan laid out in front of her, always the one with a bright picture of where I saw myself all grown-up. So, you can imagine my surprise when starting this year people would ask me what I had planned for the future and my response was, “I’m not really sure.” At first I was hopelessly in denial, finding myself in long conversations with older adults about grad schools, traveling, and going back into campaign politics. The truth is, while all of those sound like great ideas I’m not sure if I want to do all of them, any of them, or none of them at all.
It isn’t just career-wise either. I’m all over the map when it comes to my love life too. It’s like I don’t even have a type anymore. I couldn’t tell you what I was looking for in a hook-up buddy let alone a boyfriend or future husband. While most girls my age have a deal breaker list, I feel like mine is a ever changing document that I’m not even sure when to follow. It feels like this part in my life is just one big search party where no one can tell me what we’re supposed to be looking for in the first place. It’s not a comforting feeling. The worst part is when I look around at some of my peers, and while most of them are in the same boat, there are a select few that make me feel like I’m flunking out of school. You know the people I’m talking about – the engaged ones, the ones with amazing jobs with nice salaries, the ones who always have instagram pictures in different countries while I spend a good portion of my lunch break wondering how they afforded to just…leave. Those people get to experience that while I can’t handle making bigger choices than if I want to order pizza or drive to Chipotle.
After a while I stopped being in denial and started accepting it for what it is – the lost years. Then I got to a point recently where I started to think that being this lost meant I wasn’t moving forward in life. I blame my birthday coming up for me realizing that I’m heading into an entirely new portion of my twenties where shit’s supposed to start making more sense not less sense. The thought only fills me with an anxiety so thick I legitimately have to lay down afterwards in order not to throw up. It’s like all of a sudden when I picture my future all I see is blurry images surrounded by fog. I’m sitting in the unknown waiting for something, anything, to point me in the right direction.
What I do know is there are a lot of things I’m ruling out by experiencing them. Places I want to live, things I do and do not want to have in a potential relationship, areas I am interested in pursing career wise. It’s as if by a process of elimination I’m figuring out each next step as it comes along. Except this process seems filled with hot mess situations and all around chaos. Yet, maybe, the things in my life that feel like failures are actually helping me little by little to begin to see things as they come into focus. Do I still feel lost? Yes and no. I’m no longer that little girl with a linear step by step plan for what and who I want in my life. I allow things to happen and even if they don’t work out I use it as a map that is slowly but surely leading me out of the lost years and into something better. How do I know I’m headed in the right direction, especially when sometimes things happen that feel the opposite of good? Because you’re only going in the wrong direction is you stop living, if you stop taking chances, stop searching for answers to how to live the life of your dreams. As long as you’re doing that, even if you’re lost, you’re headed in the right direction.