What the hell am I doing with my life? Why did I pick this career? Why do I care so much about what that person thinks of me? Is my resume updated? Who can I call to fix up my LinkedIn? Who can I call for, well, anything?
These are the questions I ask myself on the daily. Ok, maybe not the LinkedIn question, but similar questions that revolve around making myself appear more professional and competitive for the next opportunity. These questions surely do set up permanent fixtures in my mind, collaborating exquisitely with my anxiety.
If you’re anything like me, which if you even clicked on this article you must resonate to some degree, then you know that these questions not only hound you but consume you sometimes. Maybe it’s this idea that as blossoming adults in this capitalist society, the only way we can show that we are successful by any standard is to constantly excel in the next “phase” of our lives. For example, I’m fresh out of college with a full-time job and some would say that by society’s standards, I’m right on track.
Honestly, screw society’s standards. My job, quite literally, fell into my lap, and I altered my life to its needs because on a scale where “working to live” and “living to work” are the two ends, you can imagine which I chose as a millennial with an ever flexible degree in Elementary Education.
No, I’m not necessarily here to complain about my life. Yes, there are times where I’m like, “Literally, I could’ve been a doctor.” But then I snap myself out of it because I can barely fix my own body, let alone someone else’s. But that’s neither here nor there.
I’m writing because I want you, yes you, to know that’s okay to not know what’s going on. It’s okay to not be sure of the next step because there truly is no “next step.”
There have been moments where I’ll stop and wonder when I’ll find the love of my life or when I’ll settle down or when and if I’ll have kids. I would drive myself crazy believing that I was behind the curve because not one of those things has happened yet.
My advice for anyone in a similar situation? Stop. Sit down. Breathe. It doesn’t get easier. Hell, the future doesn’t get any more clear, but it can (please note I specifically did not say “does”) get more manageable. We are navigating this twisted world the best we can, and the last thing we need to do is continuously compare ourselves to expectations that have manifested themselves based on outdated standards that clearly didn’t even suit those who composed them if they had to change.
Sit on that for a minute. Don’t chase a version of yourself you were never supposed to be just because some article you read, other than this one, told you do so.
It took me a really long time to be comfortable not knowing what’s going to come next, as well as accepting that, while I can’t control much except my reactions to situations, I have to trust in myself that the path I am on is the right one for me.
I don’t know what your path is, reader, and I don’t even know if you’re going to read this article and see it as a stream of consciousness from a person you’ve never met, but I can tell you this:
I believe in you and hope that peace finds you in the form of obliterated expectations and self-love. You deserve it. We all do.