How I Went From Being A Depressed 22-Year-Old To A Happy 25-Year-Old (With An Actual Career)

girl sipping a milkshake
Becca Tapert

22.

I remember tossing my graduation cap in the air, not cheering or smiling. I didn’t really feel anything at all except dread. I hated the unknown. I hated change. And graduation day was exactly the start of that.

At my graduation party, I drank too much boxed wine while people congratulated and patted me on the back. For what? A piece of paper that essentially meant nothing? And then they asked me that one question that I hated more than anything in the entire world. ‘What’s your plan now?’

I majored in creative writing. I have no plan, lady.

For half a year I worked retail in the downtown area of D.C. I always arrived early with a cup of iced coffee in hand, ready to go, a smile plastered on my frozen face. At lunch, I sat alone with nothing but my turkey sandwich and my tears to keep me company. I was miserable and spent that half hour always googling ‘post graduation blues’. Google was right. I definitely, definitely had them.

I didn’t want to work retail. I felt like I was failing as I saw everyone around me work for CBS and great magazines as editors and even assistants. I felt so isolated from my peers, and I felt beneath everyone and everything.

And then one day, I put in my two weeks, leaving the retail job for a more ‘fancy’ job in Friendship Heights. I was ecstatic. Finally, I had something to tell my friends and family that wasn’t – ‘oh I’m working retail until I figure things out.’ I had a SALARY. ME. A SALARY.

I took the metro feeling fancy AF (lololol). It was sure to be a breeze, right? WRONG. Cue five months later and I was miserable. Even more miserable than working that retail job. At 23, I worked my ass off and got nothing in return. And when I made mistakes all hell broke loose in the office. I ran, I never walked. I sprinted to the copy machine making sure every client got what they needed. I answered every damn phone call.

I was running on caffeine, and nothing else. And then I snapped. I ended up in the ER with a panic attack that lasted five hours. That was the last straw. I put in my two weeks and I was done.

25.

13 days into being 25, I’m now worlds away from being that anxious and sad 22 year old. I bet you’re wondering, well, what changed?

My mindset changed. I decided to stop working jobs that were causing my mental health to become a death chamber for my brain. I decided to stop being scared of the ‘what if’s’. I decided to start doing what I wanted, no matter what society deemed acceptable or not.

The career I wanted in writing? I went for it. I didn’t give up. I kept at it until I landed an internship. And then I kept at it for another ten months, until I landed a writer position.

It wasn’t all butterflies and smiles. It was hard. I struggled. I still suffered from anxiety, as I still do now.

But what changed was my acceptance of failure. Before, I tried so hard to be what everyone wanted me to be. Before, I tried so hard to be the image of perfection.

Now, I make mistakes and I try harder. Now, I fail, and I don’t beat myself up. Now, if I’m feeling overwhelmed, I take a mental health. I speak up when I’m feeling lost or scared.

What changed over the last three years is not the places or the people I have met along the way. What has changed, is me. What changed, is me finally putting myself first. What changed, is me deciding that I am worth it. That I deserve a happy life and a career that I adore. What changed, is the mindset of believing in myself again. TC mark

Lauren Jarvis-Gibson

For more poetry and writing follow me on Instagram!

Bring magic to your Instagram feed ✨

You look back and you just feel stupid.
You can’t forgive yourself for falling
or believing all the lies.
You reread every text.
You relive every memory.
And it all starts making sense —
he never wanted love.
He only wanted attention.
He only wanted validation.

“It’s just wondrous how every time I go through some emotional trauma, your posts are so relatable and it gives me so much hope. I love the writing and the photos. It’s all a pleasure to read. I can’t thank you enough for it, really.” — DM from @ThoughtCatalog Instagram follower

Bring beauty to your feed

More From Thought Catalog