We all have those days — y’know those days — those days when nothing fits right, those days when you have a pimple the middle of your forehead the size of a small country, those days when you just hate everything about everything and would prefer to stay in bed until these feelings of hopelessness subside. I like to call these days, “Allergic Reaction to the Universe Days” Nothing is going right. Nothing feels right. Nothing would make you happier than a do-over. I’ve definitely had a few days where I wished I could have woken up (on the right side of the bed) and started my day on a better note. Alas, I’m not friends with Dr. Emmett Brown nor do I have a Delorean to go back in time, so I’m left to live each day in the present, and I know how horribly frustrating the present can be, but it can also be completely wonderful. Now, let’s be real, I’m just as clueless as all of you, but I feel like since we’re all in the same boat, maybe I can give some advice on how to survive this trying time.
In our twenties, life just seems like a string of uncertainties and self-doubt. Our confidence levels are up and then down and then up again. One day, we’re grateful to be young and free, but the next day, we just want to be back in college when life made more sense. We had more purpose. We could still get away with sleeping until noon and without being judged. Let me tell you something, those days are long gone. There is no bigger way to travel down a shame spiral than by waking up at 1PM on a Tuesday. Whenever I start to get down on myself and feel an allergic reaction to the universe coming on, the mini-pep talks come into play. “You got this, Katie.” “You’re fine.” “Seriously Crazy Woman, you need to calm it down.”
We’re trying to “live it up” because it’s our twenties, and I heard through the grapevine that that’s what people our age are supposed to do. And while we’re trying to do that, we’re also trying to “get it together,” which is something that my dad keeps telling me to do for some reason. (Like, come on, Dad, I think I’m supposed to be living it up!) It’s all very confusing and conflicting and stressful. Everyday there are new questions to be asked about where we’re “going” and what the hell we’re actually planning on doing with the rest of our lives. If we work too hard and are tired all the time, we get called “grandma” by our friends when we don’t want to stay at the bar until 4AM. If we wake up at noon everyday and eat cereal for dinner, we’re lazy losers going nowhere. Is there a happy medium? Where is it? This is what frustrates me. And even though the frustation is palpable at times, everyday I wake up and go on the job hunt or do some freelance writing. It’s not much, but it’s a start. It’s what keeps me grounded right now. It allows me to feel like I have some sort of purpose.
But right when I think I have something remotely certain in my life, I’m thrown for another loop. Now, I am not complaining about these loops because to be honest, the loops are what make life fun. What I’m trying to say is that I totally understand if you’re over the loops and feel like crawling to the nearest corner, curling up in a ball, and having a good cry. It’s totally fine to do that too. Remember, it’s okay to be sad.
After I graduated, there were a lot of people who looked at me like I was an idiot for choosing the career path I did. “You’re…a writer?…Oh, that’s nice…So like, what are you even going to do with that? You’re NOT going to be a teacher?!” It took me quite some time to not feel the sting from those words and looks of pity, but I’ve found inner peace and a way to battle the nonsensical words from my peers. I feel confident in saying that, yes, I am a writer and yes, this is what I love to do, and yes, it doesn’t really pay all the bills (or any for that matter, let’s be real), but it’s a start that I am okay with. It took some time to get to that point, but once I did, a huge weight was lifted.
I know what I am about to say is up there on the cheese factor scale, but I have learned that you need to have faith in yourself. You need to know that although things are hectic and scary and uncertain right now, it’s not going to be this way forever. Have confidence. Have a plan. Have a plan for your plan. Have some sort of structure so that when you start to feel dizzy and that fear of stumbling takes hold, you can steady yourself. I guarantee that you will have some allergic reactions to the universe, but I also guarantee that if you believe in yourself and have confidence in who you are, you’ll be ready to kick those proverbial hives’ ass and conquer whatever is thrown at you. You’ll be excited for the future instead of completely terrified.
Use this time as a twenty-something to do a little self-discovery. Date a guy who isn’t your “type”. Go sign up for that art/dance/music class you’ve always wanted to take, but just never got around to. Go on a trip. Visit an old friend. Make a new friend. Finally get around to reading that book that’s been collecting dust on your nightstand. Listen to a record from your favorite artist (really listen to it, no simultaneous Facebook stalking). Take a walk. Call your grandmother. Apply for that dream job no matter the outcome. It’s important that we enjoy our twenties. It’s also important that we use this time to figure out what we want for ourselves. Have fun, but don’t forget to work hard.
Be confident. Remember that you’re awesome and special and worthwhile. Be strong. Have faith in yourself and in those around you who believe in you. Hold onto those people. They are going to guide you through this period of madness. They will be the ones you will lean on. They are the ones who won’t judge you or keep score. They love you and only want the best for you. And while we’re at it, there are going to be a lot of people you come across in your twenties that are not looking out for your best interest. Maybe these people have been around for awhile or maybe they’ve recently come into your life. Regardless, these are people that you should say good-bye to. Time to take out all the toxicity and start fresh.
Try to relax. Don’t let the stress become a burden that cripples you from becoming the person you’re meant to be. The anxiety can become so much that we forget what we really want and where we want to go. Don’t be afraid to take chances. Don’t settle. Don’t waiver from your beliefs. Don’t compromise your values for anyone. Don’t stray from yourself just to get somewhere you think you may want to be. Live in your truth. Stay true to who you are, and if you don’t know who you are yet—that’s okay too. Being a twenty-something is hard, I know, but it’s also exciting–filled with love and friendship and laughter. So when you’re having one of those days, just know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Take it from me (someone who has no business giving you all this advice because I’m right there with you), you’re going to be okay. We’re going to be okay.
Katie has recently finished her undergrad at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. She enjoys wasting hours on Facebook and tweeting things no one cares about. When asked the question, “Do you do marathons?” She promptly responds, “Of course! Which show?” Follow her @KatieGarrity! Or read her personal blog where she talks incessantly about Ryan Gosling and hummus here!