The down days will come. They will always come. You could be (in your opinion) completely behind in life compared to your peers, or somewhere in the middle, or leaps and bounds ahead of where you thought you’d be at this age. And still. There will be those days where you feel lost and worthless and like you have nothing to show for where you are in your life.
The feeling can be suffocating, paralyzing, disheartening.
Sometimes it’s all of those feelings, sometimes it’s none of those. Sometimes you just go through your day feeling functional and okay and above water, but still not alive. Just chugging along, paying the bills, doing what you need to do to be an adult, being ‘fine.’
But while that’s all happening, there’s a part of your brain that’s begging to be heard, the part saying Why am I in this place, this situation, this job, this relationship, this career – when I truly thought I’d be somewhere else? Why haven’t I done more yet? Why is my life still so unimpressive compared to everyone else’s?
It’s a feeling I particularly struggled with in my very, very early stages of adulthood – when I walked off my college campus the day after graduation and immediately began working at a job that I absolutely hated, and continued to hate, for the year and a half that I was there. And all I could think was This isn’t what I want. This is not what I want to do. This makes me feel nothing. This is taking me nowhere. I am doing nothing.
The actual experience of having a full-time, you-have-to-show-up-every-day kind of job, though not fun or pleasant, was something I was able to get used to, simply due to the logic behind it: if you want to afford to live on your own and contribute to society and not be a parasite to your parents, you have to work. Fine, totally fair. But what I struggled with was being on a career path (digital marketing) that I did not want to go down, that I had no passion for, and that I was not good at. I was not happy in the city I was in, I was not happy in the line of work I was in – I saw no future with either one.
Leaving that job and finally starting to pursue what I actually wanted in life (comedy, writing) is another story for another day.
But the important lesson I learned during that time, that has changed my way of thinking every day since then, is that I stopped focusing on internally whining and instead focused on how far I had come.
Sure, I wasn’t happy or full of passion over what I was doing. But I was living on my own, in a city I moved to alone. I was paying the bills. I was working a full-time job and taking care of myself and learning how to depend on just me – I was miles and miles away from the once aimless, slightly lazy, dependent and unfocused college student that I used to be.
And that’s what I would think about every single morning, when my alarm went off and I was already cranky and the thought of showing up to the office made me want to slide onto the floor and never get up. Sure, I wasn’t loving life there. But I was different now, I was further along than where I used to be. I wasn’t necessarily where I wanted to be career-wise, but I was becoming a person I liked more, a person I respected more, a person I was happier to be.
And that’s what I think about now. Career-wise, things are still scary and challenging and overwhelming. When I think about where I still want to be, where I still have to go, I very quickly become nervous and intimidated. But I’m also at peace – not with exactly where I am, but with the fact that I’m on a path I want to be on. I’m going somewhere I want to go. I’m not in the same job anymore, I’m not in the same city anymore.
I’m not the same person anymore.
There’s always going to be another thing to accomplish, another thing to get better at, another thing that someone else has done that you haven’t. But don’t worry about them, don’t worry about comparing yourself to those people or those timelines.
Just think about you. And who you are now. And how there’s certainly something about you, or about your life, that you never thought you’d have reached or attained by now. And how, if you keep chugging along, there will be something like that in a year, and in five, and in fifty.