1. You get anxiety when you have to go to family parties. Because the parties are filled with great aunts and random second cousins who don’t know much about you and are thus forced to ask what you’re doing to pay the bills and contribute to society. And it’d be too awkward for you to say “NOTHING LEAVE ME ALONE!” so you give a polite smile and say something about being “in-between” positions.
2. You cling to any and all articles about how to get your life together and figure shit out. They may only be helpful for about 5 minutes, but those are 5 glorious minutes where you feel like you are doing something remotely helpful in terms of heading in some sort of direction.
3. You change your mind every other day when it comes to your future. One day you’re certain you’ve figured everything out, and the next day you have a complete mental breakdown. It feels like you’re always taking one step forward and two steps back when it comes to solving the mystery that is your life.
4. You have a hard time being happy for your friends. You really want to be happy for them, but instead you’re often overcome with envy. You wish you could be as sure as they are. They seem to have it all together, whereas your life seems to become more and more of a shitshow with each passing day.
5. You resent people who’ve always seemed to know what they want to do with their life. Your cousin who’s the doctor. Your childhood neighbor who went right to cosmetology school. Your friend who simply got a business degree and then got a job. How did they do it? How did they always just know? You wish it could have been that crystal clear for you. Instead, it has been the complete opposite.
6. You still ask yourself the question “What do I want to be when I grow up?” even though you’re in your twenties. You will probably still be asking yourself this question in your thirties and in your sixties . Because “being grown up” sounds like this far-away task that you’re never going to quite finish. You wake up every day wondering if today’s the day you’re going to figure it out. And you go to bed every night saying, “Maybe tomorrow.”
7. Sometimes you wonder if you should go back to school, just because it’s something to do. You have brief moments where you even consider programs you thought you’d never try in a million years. Criminal justice? We’ll see. Massage therapy? Why not!
8. You spend hours looking at job applications for dream jobs that you think you’d never get in a million years. You just like the fantasy of it… reading through the job description and imagining yourself in that role. Sometimes, instead of watching Netflix or reading a book to relax before bed, you do that instead.
9. You actually miss being challenged the way you were in school, and wish you could find that in real life. It doesn’t matter whether you have a job or not. If you’re not heading in the right direction and you don’t know what to do with yourself, you actually miss the late nights you spent working on papers or studying for mid-terms. Because someone was challenging you and guiding you in a direction that you knew was going to make you better.
10. You take fortune cookies way more seriously than you should. And you get a lot of fortunate cookies. Because you order a lot of Chinese food. Because Chinese food always loves you back when you’re feeling directionless and unemployed.
11. You actually consider reading the self-help books that your mom sent you. Until now, they’ve sat on your book shelf or been used as coasters for your large glasses of white wine. But now, you may need help that no Pinot Grigio can solve.
12. You don’t like talking to “adults.” Yes, you’re an adult too. But like, not really. When you talk to an actual adult, such as one of your parents’ friends, they usually go right to asking what you do for a living, because they don’t know what else to talk about. Suddenly you’re rambling and talking about student loans and the crazy job market in this economy, hoping that if you talk fast enough, they won’t realize that you didn’t give them an answer.
13. Relaxing doesn’t really feel like relaxing anymore. It just feels like more time you’re wasting not figuring out what to do with your life or what kind of career path to take. It doesn’t feel like you have your entire life to figure out what you want to do, the way everyone tells you. It just feels like every moment you aren’t figuring out your game plan is another moment that you’re falling deeper into a pit of confusion and uncertainty.
14. You put too much of your self-worth into your job. Yes, jobs are important. They definitely have an effect on a large part of your identity – you spend 8-10 hours of your day at your job, after all. But often, when you’re unsure of what you actually want to do with your life, you spend too much time obsessing over what you do to pay the bills, instead of what you do outside of work that makes you happy.
15. You feel occasionally jealousy towards middle schoolers and high schoolers. Not because of the painfully awkward ways in which they flirt with one another, and not because of the rows and rows of brightly-colored braces. But because they have so much time to just exist and explore their interests without any pressure. Their main job is to just try and grow up. Technically that’s your main job right now too, but most people are making you feel like you should have finished by now.
16. Small talk is the death of you. You hate it. You dread it everywhere you go. You suddenly wonder if anyone has anything to talk about besides what they do for a living. Why isn’t it socially acceptable to introduce yourself to someone and then immediately follow it up with a question like “So who do you think is the most annoying person at this party?” as opposed to “So what do you do for a living?”
17. You eat a lot. Because sometimes, when you aren’t sure what kind of career path to take, a cinnamon bun is the temporary answer.
18. You yell at your parents for not making you take more extracurricular activities as a kid. If they had forced you into dance classes as a five-year-old, perhaps now you would be a world-famous ballerina. You could even star in Step Up, Part 16. No acting skills necessary.
19. Not living vicariously through other people becomes a full-time job. You have to consciously focus on not living through your high school bestie that’s traveling around the world or your former college roommate who seems to be in love with her job. Social media is a dangerous game, especially when you’re uncertain about your own life. So you have to consistently make an effort not to spend all your time wishing you were in someone else’s life.
20. You wonder why you can’t just have a reality show. It’s worked out for so many other people who had no other idea about what to do with their life. Their full-time job basically became existing. Why is that not YOUR LIFE?!
21. You actually use LinkedIn. Out of sheer desperation. And you hope that someday, you no longer have to send random messages to people asking if they’re hiring.