As with any other significant period in life, your 20s can be somewhat of a roller coaster. Much of the last five years of my life has been a series of ups and downs, of three steps forward and seven back, of feeling the weight of life suffocating me, of drowning in doubt, sinking in my own insecurities, of settling, of feeling stuck in my own perpetual existential crisis. I use that phrase rather often; it’s the only description I feel truly encapsulates the experiences I’ve had in the last few years. That’s not to say that there haven’t been beautifully blissful moments, because as we know, storms often end in rainbows. The fog always comes and goes. Sometimes, I feel lighter, more settled, more hopeful. Sometimes I’m stronger. Sometimes I’m energized and eager to take on whatever comes my way. And then sometimes, the noise is too much. Sometimes, it’s too loud, too strong, too much to bear.
I had to turn off the noise for a little while. I had to disconnect from this little piece of the internet and figure out what the hell was driving me right into the fog. I needed to sort myself out, to gain a little bit of control and perspective on the situation, and then revisit this place. So much has changed in that time. So much of who I was has grown into who I am in just a matter of a couple months. Part of me thinks it’s wrong to back away from a spot that I created in order to express myself, but another part of me knows that sometimes writing everything out in an attempt to piece together a puzzle doesn’t always work out. Sometimes, you have to piece together that puzzle on your own.
I have a fearless, nothing-can-hurt-me exterior, and I often come off as stone-cold, frigid, emotionless. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Underneath it all, I’ve always been sensitive to the world – I just choose not to bare it all. Life is never without a range of emotions and a collection of emotion-provoking situations, and I fall victim to being unable to deal with these emotions all the time. It always strikes me at the most inconvenient times and in response to the situations that you wouldn’t look to as emotional. Who could predict that when I left a job in retail of over nine years I would feel a little lost? That without a rigid schedule and something to do other than homework, go to class, or intern, I would lose a part of my identity. Who knew that having a little bit more time would turn into more free time to think, to observe and subsequently compare, and to feel inadequate?
In the month and a half after leaving that job, I was stuck. I was doing what I had to do in order to get ahead in my career, but I didn’t feel like it was enough. I was (and still am) working tirelessly at this goal – the goal that ends in a Master’s Degree, and hopefully a job. But I felt so far removed from everyone around me, and despite my best efforts to not compare myself to others, it’s so so so hard. I’d like to think it’s human nature to crave what others have. I was stuck in a rut – stuck feeling like the co-dependent, clingy friend who needed her friends more than they needed her. Stuck feeling like everyone has someone, everyone has their own agenda, everyone’s got something and I’ve got nothing. I was concerned about doing enough internship hours to graduate, passing exams, getting licensed, finding a job in the field and eventually making it on my own, while I have friends who are concerned with when their boyfriends are proposing, friends who struggle with their rent, friends who juggle school, work, and children. I struggled because I couldn’t relate to their struggle, and vice versa. But in retrospect, it was the most ridiculous low I’ve had.
At the point of breakdown, nothing in my life had changed, except for my job. Isn’t that odd? I suppose it was a domino effect of suppressed feelings. I found that no matter how self-serving it is to feel any of the aforementioned feelings, sometimes, you can’t help it. And it’s okay. It’s okay to be jealous (so long as you’re not green with envy) of the people who seem to have their shit together while you are struggling just to get to the halfway mark of your own race. But don’t ever let what you don’t have keep you from achieving more. Don’t ever let what you don’t have destroy what you do have.
I owe a lot of who I am to the company I keep. If I didn’t have the friends that I do, I would be drowning in a sea of my own self-pity. My friends keep me in line. They remind me of the important things in life. This was no different. I’m grateful to my best friend who listened to me bitch about how stuck I felt, how alone I felt, how shitty I felt that everyone was moving on and doing these great things. She listened to me talk about how sad and lost I was, but she didn’t allow me to stay fixated on it. She reminded me of the things I do have, and to get my shit together. To not let the fog win. To never overlook what I do have. I mean it when I say that everyone needs at least one, if not two, good friends who challenges you as much as she supports you. It’s one thing to love your friends and to be there for every up and every deep, dark, low and agree with them on everything – even when they’re wrong. But friendships that force you to look at your own shortcomings, friends that tell you to cut the shit and get it together, friends that tell it like it is – are so much more important in life.
So, I dropped the pity-me act and the fog started to lift. And one of the most important things I’ve learned throughout this entire situation, is to keep trudging through it. Even when the noise is loud, even when the odds are against you, even when you feel lost and pathetic and hopeless in your own affairs, don’t stop reaching. I was sad, and bitter, and angry at the hands I had been dealt, but I never stopped working. I still busted my ass in school, I still aimed high, and in that process, I found meaning in my own life. Trust the process. If you are working towards something and are dedicating yourself to that goal, trust that whatever is meant to be, will be. I don’t believe in miracles. I don’t believe in unearned gifts. I do, however, believe that light trumps darkness and that if you keep working and leave it up to fate, you might get exactly what you want.
My life is so different than it was a couple months ago. My schedule is the craziest it’s ever been. I’m as busy as all hell, interning full time, going to school full time, and working part-time (the biggest change thus far), but for the first time since I was 15, I’m enjoying my weekends. The friends that I am used to seeing every single day, I see a little less. My heart aches sometimes missing those moments – the moments when we were all in the same place at the same time, but on the other hand, my heart has never been so full. My friends are still my
friends family even when we don’t see or hear from each other daily. I am so happy and hopeful and eager for my future. I’m so so so SO incredibly grateful for the opportunities that have been given to me recently and as cheesy as it sounds, I am excited about my work every day. I’m happy for myself, and for my friends who are all equally succeeding in their endeavors, and I’m excited to see what’s next for all of us.
And isn’t that what life is all about? Growing old with the people who go from being friends to truly being family, but never growing apart from them? Cheering them on when they take on big life changes and getting excited for their triumphs and good news?
My life isn’t perfect. Your life isn’t either, and we can’t expect perfection. We can expect that what we put in, we’ll get out. So work. Be present. Be appreciative of what you have. Be grateful. Be humble. Love the people who love you. Leave bitterness behind. And trust the process. Bust your ass, and you’ll reap the benefits.
I made it through the fog and I’ll be back to posting regularly. Thanks for hanging around while I figured it all out. xo
“I think for the most part, if you’re really honest with yourself about what you want out of life, life gives it to you.” -Ted Mosby, How I Met Your Mother