I woke up one Monday morning in a funk. I couldn't decide what it was, but it fell somewhere between waking up on the wrong side of the bed and seasonal depression - whatever it was, it was getting progressively worse every time I hit snooze.
It was exactly eight months since I'd graduated from college, one month after the holidays, and when I opened my weather app, it read 4 degrees.
This wasn't the first morning that I'd woken up (and spent a good chunk of the day) feeling like this. I started realizing that this discontent all related back to the fear that I was neither where I was supposed to be nor doing what I was supposed to be doing.
But on the surface, you'd never have been able to tell. My life seemed pretty great. I loved my job, I was living close to my extremely supportive family in a cute house with a porch and a lot of close friends, and I had a great boyfriend who truly wanted to help on mornings like these. I had nothing to complain about - and telling myself that was just making me feel guiltier and more depressed.
I started thinking that if I was feeling this way now, when I had no real need to take care of anyone but myself, when would it ever get any better?
I realized that if there was ever a time to practice pulling myself out of these holes, it was now. And no, it didn't mean joining a gym, or moving somewhere that was always sunny and 75, or drinking less boxed wine.
It meant making a conscious effort to change the way I was thinking about my life and developing habits that would hopefully last until a day when the Kardashians no longer rule television. This isn't a quick fix, and by no means do I expect it all to happen at once. But I'm desperately seeking a new perspective, and here's where I'm starting:
1. Giving myself the grace to learn.
Since I've been out of college, I've been experiencing this annoying sense of both wanting to immediately be the best at everything and being scared shitless of actually succeeding.
I'm trying to accept that our early-twenties are a time to learn. Whether you're working in the job you always wanted, or you're currently barefoot learning to play guitar on a beach in Thailand - it really doesn't matter. Right now we're judged not so much on what we've decided or achieved, but rather on what we're learning and how it motivates us to move on to what's next.
2. Not getting too stuck in the day-to-day.
Taking a page out of the bible of Sheryl Sandburg, I found myself a professional mentor. The last time we met, we discussed the importance of developing a "three year plan" to help get you through those days when you question what you're working towards. He talked about people he'd seen "zigzag through their careers" with no real sense of purpose or direction. This made me think not only about my career, but my life. I realized I had no idea where I wanted to be three years from now.
What I do know, and what this conversation made me think about (several days later, after my blood pressure returned to normal), is that there are several people I'm inspired by and several things I love to do. By observing those role models and allowing myself time to figure out what I like and what I'm good at, I'm starting to be able to see beyond this Monday morning.
3. Snapchat is not in fact the key to happiness. (Sorry, DJ Khaled.)
I know that social media has its place, but one thing I'm (trying) to stop in this search of a new perspective is making social media my instant go-to when I don't know what else to do with my hands. If you're doing it to unwind or take a break, have at it. But the second you start to feel yourself comparing your naturally imperfect reality with anyone else's deceivingly perfect Instagram squares - cut it off. Fill your mind with something more beautiful and worthy of your time. Like inspirational Pinterest quotes.
Just kidding...sort of.
4. You can do whatever the hell you want.
For the first time in our lives, we're not being told what to do. And it scares us. Everyone our age is suddenly and completely doing their own thing, and we're all feeling blind and exposed, searching aimlessly for someone to tell us we're still on track.
We're starting to lead our own lives, and part of that means we need to start becoming our own best advocates. There really is no guidebook to being a human on this confusing planet, and I imagine the only thing to get us through it all is the freedom to choose how we want to see the world and the ability to create our own roadmaps.
So please. Stop letting people judge you for staying in on a Friday, or for not knowing how to cook, or for not having a perfect system for organizing your emails. Or better yet, stop judging yourself, because chances are, no one is actually judging you. If they are, take it from Ellen Degeneres, and say thank you, give them a courtesy, a smile and a silent but pleasant f-you. Maybe those weren't her exact words.
When it comes down to it - As divided as we may feel, we're all essentially looking for the same thing. We want to find meaningful connections with undisclosed people and passions and proof that we'll make it out of this weird time in our lives stronger than we started.
Who am I to say that we will? You bring up an interesting question, and I'm working on figuring it out. But I will say that you're not the only one trying to make sense of it all, and I'm starting to believe that by finding the strength to change our perspective, we might just have a chance at figuring it out.