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Entering your twenties is like walking through a door leading you to a myriad of paths you haven’t taken yet. It’s scary and unpredictable, but you have to get your act together and go inside that door because there’s no other way out. Your teenage years have officially ended and your priorities will now change.
Life doesn’t care whether you’re ready for it, but you know it’s coming for you.
Whether you choose to prepare yourself for the challenges to come or not is your decision. You’re now entering through that door along with everything you choose to carry with you: the lessons, the experiences, the knowledge, the skills, and many more you hold dear. Hopefully, you wouldn’t bring along baggage that isn’t relevant and significant anymore. Hopefully, you’ve finally mustered the courage to leave toxic habits and people behind. Hopefully, you’ve discovered the purpose of the hurdles before and have learned from them.
Through this door, you will learn far greater things and meet way worse people (or better if you’re lucky). But to those who are currently on the brink of transitioning or have already gone inside the door say the world beyond the barrier is full of pain. They say it’s filled with loneliness and fake happiness. They say it’s draining them, sucking all the energy they gathered before they crossed another lane. They even say it gets worse when you put all your hope into that hobby or career, expecting to get the results tantamount to the amount of effort you’ve put in, and still fail. Regardless of what they think, it’s important to talk about the factors that make them despise their twenties so much.
WHAT MAKES YOUR TWENTIES SO DRAINING?
HAVING NO IDEA ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT TO BECOME
Staying up all night thinking about what you want to become is stressful on a different level. You’re conflicted with the lingering questions in your mind. You’re confused about whether to set goals based on practicality or passion. You’re having second thoughts about whether you should go all-in or consider the limits of your capabilities. For some, the reason they still have no idea what they want to be is that they still haven’t discovered their talents.
For most, they still haven’t chosen because they feel like they’re not a master of a certain field. They feel like they’re only average, and that discourages them from committing to a career choice. There are just so many to choose from, aren’t there? But you’re not exactly sure if you’re fit for all those choices. At some point, you have to stop widening your imagination and start narrowing it into three factors: money, passion, skill. Although it’s good to encourage yourself to dream higher than your fears, remember that dreaming is only a part of the process. You need to do more than just dreaming if you want to make it happen. It’s daunting to finally make the choice, and that’s because we don’t know if it’s the right one until we do.
If you want to venture into a career path that you have no idea about, I suggest learning more about this through intensive studying and researching (reading, watching videos and documentaries, interviewing real-life people who have done this) before even attempting to make a career out of it. It’s so easy to let your mind loose into the infinite possibilities of your dreams, but it’s also a matter of the course of action you’re going to take to achieve it. Think smart and do smart.
You should take some time to ponder if you want to do this. List down the pros and cons of the career path you want to take and weigh down its consequences and the impact of change it can bring onto your life and to the people you’re affiliated with. If you find yourself finding excuses for the disadvantages, that’s more or less a sign you’re not quite into it. But if you find yourself finding reasons why you should continue doing it despite the challenges, then it means you have the guts to commit to it. That speaks a lot more than you think.
FAILING TO MEET EXPECTATIONS
Expectations can come from anywhere — from society, friends, parents, or yourself. The ridiculous expectations to choose the right path and excel in it perfectly, to get married, to have kids, to buy a house and a car, and many more is daunting. Somehow no matter how much you shield yourself from being affected by this, still, inevitably you will be.
Even if you do achieve one of these expectations, you still feel like you’re not doing enough and you need to do more. You feel the urge to satisfy their expectations much more than your own, even if you don’t want to. Usually, you tend to create these impossible expectations without considering the circumstances in your life. You allot an unrealistic time to finish them and try to challenge yourself even if it’s logically impossible to do.
Subsequently, when you don’t meet such expectations, you resort to breaking down in self-pity. You make poor choices and leaning towards giving up because you feel like you’re lost and unable to find the right track for you. But the truth is, it’s because of your doing that causes it. You’ve not been taking care of yourself by bombarding your mind with such aimless goals. You’re not putting enough into your accomplishments. For some reason, you’re more focused on creating expectations instead of goals, and that’s when you started going the wrong way.
FEELING EXTREME PRESSURE
Pressure is a fickle motivator, and it may potentially be a great push to being consistent with your actions but not all the time. When you do things out of the outburst of your emotions, it will be hard for you to control its outcome. You couldn’t execute the tangible objectives you’ve planned effectively. It’s likely to be always working (because you’re pressured internally and externally) but not producing quality content anyway. As a result, your time is wasted by the illusion of productivity when it was really mediocrity.
Although it is healthy to feel a little pressure to perform better, be careful not to make these pressures the sole reason why you work. If you do things for the sake of pacifying the internal pressures, the fire inside you will eventually put out. When this happens, you will lose focus on your direction because the energy that’s fueling you to work isn’t organic.
You need to work because that’s what you want for yourself and not only because you’re pressured by someone else to do it. If you live like that, you’re training your mind and body to work only when you’re anxious or excited about something which is not the right motivation. Whether you don’t feel like doing the work, you must do it because you have to be consistent with your actions.
COMPARING YOUR JOURNEY TO OTHER PEOPLE
This has always been a negative value in each one of us. It’s incredibly easy to make fun of ourselves and compare it to somebody else’s. Why do we do this? Because we are afraid to not succeed, to not make progress, or to not accomplish more of what other people. You are no exemption. You take a sneak peek at other’s routines, then take a look at yours and sulk about the difference.
Instantly, your brain gives you a list of your weaknesses and insecurities. As a result, you feel bad and discouraged. You allow negativity to linger and make you talk bad about yourself. Then you start asking yourself why you bothered to start in the first place and mock at your audacity to join such a saturated competition where you know you’re going to lose. The cycle goes on.
Stop comparing your journey to someone else’s mainly because it doesn’t help you in any way. It won’t give you peace of mind and it certainly won’t make you feel good about your progress (even if you’ve been doing absolutely great). Think about your progress and how many fears you’ve overcome to get to that place.
Think about the enormous character development you’ve achieved because you’ve managed to go beyond your and other people’s doubts. Think about the many successes you’ll make because you decided to step out of your comfort zone. Think about how you’re still starting but you feel like a different person, a better person. Remember not to sour grape on other’s stories, too. Get inspiration from them, study their ways, and see if you could apply that to yourself.
FOLLOWING SOMEONE ELSE’S PACE
Of course, you get tired when you’re not running your race. You get even more exhausted when you continue to move and force yourself to make progress in someone else’s time table. Heck, it’s even tiring to follow your own pace. What more of someone else’s? This is something you don’t usually notice that you’re doing. You see someone’s story on Instagram and feel pressured that she’s done something productive today, but you know that you’ve set this day mainly for rest (because you’ve worked so hard the past few days). Then you feel like you’ve lost your game and you’re not doing as much as you’ve done before.
It’s always about feeling conscious of what you and others have to say. Sometimes, you have to not care what their plans are and start thinking about only your own. They may have worked very hard on your rest day, but that’s okay. You’ve also done a good job because you’re taking care of yourself. Start managing your time and making the most out of it. Stop relying on everybody else. Stop waiting for someone to do something for you to get out of bed. Stop following someone else’s pace because all of us have our own adjustments. Just because you start your journey at the same time as someone else, that doesn’t guarantee the same destiny. Respect your progress and finish your race.
They say your twenties are the most difficult, free, confusing, upsetting time of your life. People say have fun, some say save and invest, while others say go where the wind takes you. If you don’t start taking control of your decisions at your own pace, you will feel forced and rigid when doing your work. That will go a long, exhausting way until you become a slave of your own poor choices. Eventually, you wouldn’t be able to rise above your failures because you’re used to being disappointed. Start deciding for yourself. Start making your own independent choices.
“If you spent your life concentrating on what everyone else thought of you, would you forget who you really were? What if the face you showed the world turned out to be a mask… with nothing beneath it?”Jodi Picoult, Nineteen Minutes