With the holiday season in our rearview I’m sure I’m not the only one who experienced a holiday hangover. Mine however, was not due to too many spiked egg nogs, but instead a product of curious relatives, friends, friend’s relatives, and relative’s friends wondering what exactly I am doing with my life. Twenty-somethings are all familiar with the string of questions that start with your education and spiral quickly into the personal depths of your sad attempts at love lives. Maybe Uncle Tom asks what you’re going to do with your arts degree and Aunt Helen jumps in to question: “Whatever happened to that boy you brought around here last year?”.
We don’t talk about him Helen.
If you haven’t heard at least three of these questions in your brush with big groups of people who look nothing like you and maybe share your last name, then you probably spent your holidays traveling to Thailand despite your student loans (as most twenty-somethings should): Are you in school? Have you graduated? What are you doing with your degree? Where do you work? What do you want as an ideal career? Are you still living at home? When are you moving out? Are you in a serious relationship?
After responding to a whirlwind of questions I hardly knew answers to myself, and making up several as I went along… I began to realize that these conversations are so panic-inducing for myself and other young people flailing about in the world post-post-secondary because we are in transition. One thing I have learned in my own state of school into the “real world” flux is that large changes make us pause and evaluate then reevaluate ourselves and our lives. Going from living with an apartment full of girls, running to a scheduled day of classes, working towards a degree and throwing up my grad hat in celebration, to sitting in my pajamas on Indeed and watching The Bachelor with my mom, was quite the reality check. “This is it” I would think, a world out there full of possibility and my time to explore it. So what are we so afraid of? These are a few things to remember when you are stressing:
“Don’t compare yourself to other people”
It is easy these days to log into Instagram and scroll down a newsfeed of glam Saturday night outfits, gym posts, and job successes only to feel like you are already failing at your New Years resolution to get your sh*t together. However, they call them filters for a reason. Social media is a place for people to filter out their struggles to success and share the final product instead. That girl you found on your popular page may be flaunting her newfound job at a high-end magazine, but she didn’t post the 17 rejection letters that pushed her to make it there.
You’ve just emerged after decades in the education system and maybe expected to exchange that rolled up degree for a pay cheque straight out of the graduation ceremony, but the world has different plans for you. Now you find yourself folding clothes at the mall, mixing foaming lattes at Starbucks, or serving beers to old classmates. This may not have been the “career” you aspired to, and it certainly might not please Uncle Tom who thought you were going to law school this year (which you may have told him last year to get him off your back), but the truth is, it is okay. Saving money, not knowing what your future has in store, and being in transition is normal. The key to success (move over Dj Khaled) is to keep moving, although you shouldn’t be discouraged by your current situation, you should not settle for years in a place you are unhappy with.
“You can’t score without goals”
You may not know where you want to be in ten, five, or even one year but you do know the aspirations that have always been important to you. Maybe you always dreamed of traveling, having a shredded body, moving to a big city, starting a Youtube channel, or actually making it to law school. Even if you are unsure exactly where you want to be in your life, you can make a daily effort to be better. Wake up early. Get to the gym. Forget about that shirt you don’t need and save your money. Make new habits until you are closer to your goals and closer to being the person you are proud to be when Christmas 2016 rolls around.
In the wise words of Meg Cabot (ie. author of The Princess Diaries): “Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgement that something is more important than fear; The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all.” Basically, you can’t avoid applying for that job because you have sweaty hands over the interview and you shouldn’t be staring at pictures of the European trip some co-worker is posting up and wishing you had the courage to get on that plane. Fear is helpful in some cases (running away from predators for example) but in present day it can stand as a huge road block in the way of our personal successes. Having the courage to go for what you want is ultimately the most rewarding experience.