It’s hard to believe that I just turned twenty-four! My life is nowhere near where I envisioned it would be as I approach my mid-twenties. I left my graduate program, quit my job, and I’m currently living at home with my mom. In these past few months, I’ve struggled to find my footing and can’t even seem to find a new job that I feel competent or qualified to do. My attempts to re-enroll in another Master’s program have been discouraging, and student loan payments and credit card debt are looming over my head.
It doesn’t help that when I look around I feel like all of my peers are living, enjoying life, and achieving so much. I then inevitably fall into the trap of evaluating my self-worth based on how I stack up against the accomplishments of others, or the milestones society says I should have reached by now. This is the first time in my life where I truly feel lost. As someone who is a planner and has had every aspect of their life outlined since childhood, this whole experience has been devastating. In the midst of all of these disappointments and as uncertain as my future may seem, I’ve learned some very valuable lessons along the way.
It’s Okay To Admit You Can’t Do It All – Growing up, even though I was the youngest, I always prided myself on having everything together. To put it simply, I was, and still am a perfectionist. However, as I’ve learned the hard way, the world is not my oyster and things rarely ever go as planned. And you know what, that’s ok! However, what’s not ok is continuing to pretend that everything is fine when in reality you’re falling apart. Sometimes the best decision you can make is to be honest with yourself and walk away from situations that may not be right for you. Sacrificing your wellness is never worth keeping up appearances.
Today, I realize that we do live in a society that values busyness and overachievers. Everything is so competitive and you are constantly forced to try and do more to set yourself apart from the crowd. In my abysmal attempts at doing so, I lost myself and hit bottom. I was chasing validation, respect, and recognition from all the wrong places, and it has gotten me absolutely nowhere. I’ve since taken a step back from it all, and I’m now choosing to be more intentional with what I dedicate my time to. Most importantly, I’m focusing on aligning myself with the divine plan that God has created for me.
Take Your Mental Health Seriously – Your twenties are such a critical period in life and there is so much pressure to be successful and self-sufficient. Therefore, it’s only natural that stress will arise. However, it’s important to take note of when that stress begins to negatively impact your everyday life and level of functioning. My personal struggles with anxiety and clinical depression have always been a subject that I’ve shied away from openly discussing. I was fearful that others would judge me and perceive me as being weak or unstable. Now that I’m getting older, I realize that I can no longer ignore my issues.
Last year, when I was still in enrolled in my graduate program, I reached a critical moment where I realized there was no way I could continue to try and help others; when I myself, am both spiritually and emotionally broken. No matter how much I tried to overcompensate or stay organized, the more things continued to unravel. Untreated, mental illness can and will wreak havoc on your life if you don’t seek professional and spiritual help.
Despite how others may make you feel, admitting that you are struggling to cope with life’s many challenges is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it takes a certain level of inner strength and maturity to admit that to yourself and others, so you should be proud for taking that step!
Live Within Your Means And Learn To Live With Less – When I think about the amount of credit card debt and student loans I currently have, it makes my head spin. And, I have no one else to blame for this but myself. I desperately wanted to project a certain image to others, so I took out a little loan money here and there and swiped my credit card like the bill would never come. Now that I’m out of school and unemployed, I’m paying dearly for those poor financial decisions.
When you don’t have much money, it’s actually amazing how much you realize you don’t need or could do without. However, we often allow our pride or a covetous spirit convince us into believing otherwise. For the new year, not only am I’m embracing a more minimalist lifestyle out of sheer necessity, but also because I think many aspects of that lifestyle will be extremely beneficial for my wellness. I’m by no means an expert on minimalism, but it’s something that I definitely plan on exploring and educating myself on further.
I still have a few more things to share, but I’ll leave you with this for now. In the meantime, if you too are having a difficult time finding your way, please be confident in this…
“ And we know that all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
– Romans 8:28