1. You’re starting to feel more in control of your “twentysomething anxiety.” The anxiety is still there, and you still spend a large part of your time feeling like you don’t know who you are yet. But instead of feeling as though your anxiety is like a giant elephant sitting on your chest and paralyzing you with fear, you now feel like anxiety is just a side effect of being a twentysomething. It’s unpleasant and nerve-wracking, but you know how to deal with it now.
2. When you’re catching up with someone at a family gathering or dinner party, you actually feel excited when they ask you what you’re doing these days. Even if you’re not a fan of small talk, you don’t mind it as much this time around because you feel so energized about your current situation.
3. You feel a sense of inner peace, because even though you still have a long way to go, you at least feel like you are on the right path in terms of doing whatever it is that you want to do with your life.
4. When you’re watching a friend go through a difficult time, whether it’s an identity crisis or just a hard few months at work, you feel both empathy and hopefulness for them. You’ve been in their position. You’ve been in that dark pit and you’re still working your way up and out of it, but you know that they will eventually get through it and out of it, just like you.
5. There’s a consistent calmness about you. You’re busy as hell and you feel like you’re juggling fifteen different things at once. But you’re happy, you’re satisfied, because you’d rather be doing something you’re passionate about, even if it’s hard, than be doing something easy and mindless that doesn’t challenge you in any way.
6. There are physical signs that your hard work is getting you somewhere – you might be physically tired, but you feel mentally energized. Perhaps you’re smiling more. Maybe you have a greater urge to get off the couch and get moving. Whatever it is, something about getting to a good place just makes you want to work harder to continue getting further and further to a better place.
7. You don’t cringe or roll your eyes or pretend to laugh when people talk about life goals. Goals aren’t something you’re afraid of anymore. They’re not things that are hanging over your head or weighing down on you to the point where you can’t breathe. They are things that are present in your life – things you’re working on this very instant instead of putting them in a dark corner and pretending that they don’t exist. Goals no longer give you anxiety and fear; they give you a desire to keep going.
8. It feels like a weight was lifted off of your shoulders that you didn’t even know was there. Through high school and college and your beginning adult years, you always felt this heavy, invisible thing pressing on you from all sides. It made you feel anxious and inferior and unaccomplished and worthless. You didn’t even realize it was a weight you were carrying around, because you just got used to feeling that way all the time. But once you started working hard and investing your time and energy into something worthwhile, the weight began to lift. It’s still there, always trying to make you feel like you’re not good enough, but you know how to fight it now – you fight it by reminding yourself that you’re doing things and trying things and accomplishing things regardless of that weight.
9. You feel less of a need to explain yourself. You never had to explain yourself to anyone in the first place, but it was not until you started feeling more comfortable and excited about your life path that you realized this. But now, you feel more confident in yourself, even if you still feel totally unsure about exactly where you’re going to end up. You’ve realized that you don’t have to know the entire plan, you just have to be willing to keep going.