Entering the “real world” is a slap in the face. All your life you were told told you had to work hard in school to get here. You studied hard during the week, maybe partied hard on the weekend, you spent summers volunteering or interning. You edited your resume or ran through countless practice tests. You made it.
Er, not quite. Living at home? Wrong job? It’s not what you expected. At least, that was my experience. Stuck between familiar and unfamiliar, I felt like a child under the pressure of the professional world. I wanted the independence and privacy that my friends had. I walked downstairs everyday, and was subjected to the fashion police… that was my mom approving my outfit by saying “Oh, you look cute!”
It only took me a few months to realize, I needed to do some soul searching. Living at home bought me time to research what I really wanted in a career. It gave me the confidence to decide I needed a new city to branch out and test myself. How exciting!
Er, not quite. On my next “career path,” I start out on my own, but suffer the loneliness of needing friends in a new city. I struggled to stick to a budget and living with a random stranger. I spiraled into some form of mild depression, and I didn’t know what to do with my free time but cry. This wasn’t want I was expected it to be. How many tries does it take to get post college right?
Post college is a perpetual trial-and-error experiment. However, that doesn’t mean it needs to feel like a hopeless black hole of possibilities. That just means that you have to keep working at it. You have to keep figuring it out.
In my first three years after college, I have learned the harsh reality of those low moments. That you and only you can help yourself. That you have to pull yourself out of the trenches through a series of positive changes and positive thinking.
It is these low moments that allow us to come back stronger, more aware and more appreciatative. It’s so easy to hide under the shame of feeling lost. This is a moment to lean on your family or friends for support. Tell them what you’re going through, ask for solutions, ask them to check in on you.
In a rut? Get back to the things you enjoy! Ask yourself, what are my hobbies? What do I do for fun? You’d be surprised at how hard it is to remember your hobbies in moments of low desperation. Think back to what you used to do before everything went chaotic. For me, I dove back into cooking and reading. I signed myself up for new activities and made an effort to exercise by forcing myself to join a real gym. What a relief to finally have something to harness your energy towards!
Don’t forget to focus on taking care of yourself! Allow yourself simple pleasures that make you feel relaxed and at ease. If you like to be pampered, get a mani/pedi. Take a yoga class and find your zen. Buy yourself something pretty (that doesn’t break the bank). Make an effort to put you and your wants (not needs) first.
Your twenties are not a time to have it all figured out. Be sure to take that pressure off yourself. You are not perfect and no one expects you to be. Anytime a friend comes to me in a rough time, I always say, “don’t beat yourself up.” I try to remind myself not to do too much at once. This is a time to enjoy life. We must continue to develop ourselves, and make an effort to learn how to enjoy this stage in our life. That is what I know for sure.