This post is a two-parter – – – Part (1/2):
Hi, i apologize if this question isnt relevant to your blog, please feel free to disregard. Actually before I get into it, I wanted to whole heartedly thank you for spending so much time writing for this blog, it has helped me IMMENSELY over the years. Also, wish you success in all your endeavors in 2016 and beyond. So my question is actually two part, don’t want to clog your ask box so if either seems like something relevant I’d love to hear your insight but completely understand if not.
One – do you have any tips on being okay with getting older? I know it is silly, but I cannot help but feel like with every year (in my 20s) I’m losing my youth, becoming less relevant/cool. Even though I am getting my master’s, I’m not 100% sure about it, so I’m kind of all over the place, no set goals, can’t FIND any set goals in regards to career/what I truly want to do…idk feels like I’m just existing and getting old with occasional moments of happiness.
Thank you for reading and for the kind words! Any question is welcome on the blog as long as the reader thinks I might be of some help.
When I read your question, this is what I imagined in my head:
If you can relate to this I think I have a diagnoses. You’re a normal 20-something. You’re going to live.
Because that’s what being in your 20s is like. You have absolutely no idea what you’re doing and as you creep further and further away from the things that you do know, you get closer and closer to this black sticky unknowing. Suddenly it’s not the Spice Girls or Usher on the radio, it’s Kelly Babeybabe and the Trio of Naenae’s and the cashier is going on and on about the rad super flux of the intestine trend and how do you feel about chia seed pudding and holy shit what happened to my life. How long do I need to listen to NPR every day to feel relevant? When will the kids on the bus start calling me ma’am and giving me the elderly and handicapped seats? (This has already happened, I’ve lost control of my life.)
You hear it all the time but it’s true. People have no idea what they’re doing and if they look like they know what they’re doing they’re probably really good at pretending. And that’s the thing. PRETENDING MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD. If you pretend long enough you can kinda start to believe that you have your shit together, too. I could wake up in the morning and submit to the feeling of ten thousand sandbags on top of me, roll over and scream “EVERYONE THINKS I KNOW WHAT IM DOING HOW HAVE I MISLED THEM SO QUICKLY” and then start crying.
Sometimes I do this. I think every adult should have at least one day per month like this. Where they just give up completely and sit on the couch in their pajamas and cry about how unfair life is. I have no idea how I got here. I have no idea where I’m going. Are other people just innately motivated to do something. Who are these people and might they mentor me like one of those karate movies except in the end I just finally know what my personality is and what skills I favor most?
I could wake up with the sandbags and the screaming or I could wake up and think to myself “today I’ll be better than I was yesterday.” Because as we pretend to do the things we think we can’t do, the secret is… we could do them all along.
Here’s how it is for me: I only have a vague idea of what I want to do. But I like what I’m doing right now. And I make small decisions every day that help me continue doing what I’m doing right now, but better. This helps me battle that feeling of overwhelming gloom, and it also helps me feel relevant.
For instance, every day I like to:
- Do my job. In doing your job, you become better at it.
- Do something that advances my job. How can I do my job better?
- Strengthen my skills or hobbies. For me this means writing, studying french, practicing coding, doing graphic design, photography, social media, hand lettering, things like that.
- Turn your skills or hobbies into a career. If possible, turn number three into a job. If not possible, find a way to balance it with numbers 1 and 2.
- Find ways that help you stay relevant. I’m obsessed with this. Because I hate not knowing what is going on in the world.
How to stay relevant:
- Listen to new music, the radio, the top 100. At least know who these people are.
- Listen to radio stations based on artists you already like. Find new ones.
- Read books. Read the NYT bestsellers. Join a book club.
- Keep an ongoing list of vocabulary words to strengthen your voice. Always be better.
- Pop culture. Film, television, magazines, books, sports, I don’t know, there’s tons of it. The internet, baby. Absorb it. Because you’ll keep hip to slang and memes and that’s going to take you a long way.
- Have 1 on 1 time with your friends where you connect. People are what help keep you relevant. Because in this case, relevancy is just feeling companionship with someone. Take the time cellphone free to have a conversation with someone else about your life, and their life, and life in general. Share those little worries that make you wake up screaming.
- Read the news.
Secret: all of these things will help you find direction in your life. They will show you your passions. They will inspire you. They will fulfill you.
I think it’s good to have longterm goals. Let’s say you’re getting a masters in psychology. You’re almost done with your masters and you’re realizing that you’ve spent all this time and money studying psychology and it’s exhausting. You’re not sure you love it anymore. You’re not sure what you even want to do with it. That’s okay. Take a breath and instead focus your attention on doing something every day that does interest you. Re-discover your love for psychology. What initially drew you to it? Have you had a chance to really love it like you used to? Find ways to love that thing again. If you really totally and completely hate it, focus on doing it the best you can. And do things on the side that do make you happy.
Think about what you want to do, but don’t feel pressured to do it all at once. If you have a job but you don’t want to have that job forever, think about what you like about your job and what you don’t like about your job and start looking at other jobs. Read job descriptions. Do it without pressure to “pick a life.” You can’t pick a life. Sorry. You’ve already got one and you’re in the midst of living it. It’s the little decisions we make that help us have the lives we want, eventually. That’s why they call it a lifestyle. You have to make little changes to little things over time.
I said this in a previous post, but think about how far you’ve already come. Remind yourself of that regularly. All the freedoms you have now. All of the knowledge. All of the experience. What would previous versions of yourself be proud of. What would previous versions of yourself be disappointed in?
All of that terrified, sad, unsure, frustrated, unknowing future gives you this feeling like you’re going nowhere. In my opinion, being cognizant of such feelings means exactly the opposite.
Stay tuned for part two, coming up tomorrow morning.
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