Raise your hand if you're in your twenties and have no idea what you're doing with your life.
Hey! Me too.
Well...that might be slightly dramatic. But it's a common feeling I have. And I know I'm not alone. I've discussed this with my friends and they're feeling it too. So I guess it's high time I write about it and get the conversation out in the open.
The twenties (late, almost over twenties for me) are a tough time. I know they are not impossible, and all ages and decades have their challenges, but the twenties are when you're supposed to set up your life. You get an education, start your career, (hopefully) fall in love.
Ok, I've done all those things (yes, I'm lucky and grateful). Now what?
I read the book The Defining Decade last year. I saw the author's TED Talk (thanks, Marika, for sending it my way!) and was inspired. Meg Jay is a psychologist who works with a lot of twenty-somethings. So much so she wrote a whole book about it. Her main point is that people, and I guess society, have been acting like the twenties decade is a warm-up for life. It doesn't really count. The twenties are for fun and adventure. While I guess that's true in some regard, it can be awfully dangerous to view your life - at least a full 10 years of it - as a warm-up. Jay warns against this philosophy and argues how important this stage can be. It is literally the defining part of your life (gulp).
I guess the takeaway is this: if you're in your twenties and you've started "defining" or setting up your life, you're doing pretty good. And if you've been killing time until you think your life starts in your thirties, now is the time to get cracking. Jay says you should start working on identity capital (something that adds value to your future self), use your "weak ties" - i.e. network - and pick your family, because you're deciding your life right now.
And now for my own advice (although I, of course, don't have the expertise of Meg Jay. I do have a bach psych degree though, so there's that ;). I've found writing extremely helpful and therapeutic. Writing and the ocean. Writing while at the ocean is preferred. Before you write, ask yourself deep, important questions and then write out your answers. You might be (hopefully pleasantly) surprised by what hits the page. Also, the Internet is a pretty great resource (who knew?!). Just Google how to find your career path, life purpose, etc. and there are a million websites at the ready.
One of my favourite tips I found was to write down the jobs you wanted when you were a kid [if you're interested, my top five were: waitress (accomplished at 19, what a superstar), actress (only academy award winning actress, I might add), writer (working on it), ballerina (gave up on that one pretty quick) and monkey trainer (don't think I quite understood the magnitude of animal captivity at that point)]. These jobs are different, but there are some interesting similarities. Creativity being one of them. Often it isn't the specific job, but characteristics of that job that interest you. If you don't remember what you aspired to be as a kid, call your mom (actually, call your mom anyways. she always wants to hear from you :).
I know this blog post didn't solve the issue of the quarter-life crisis. That's because I haven't figured it out (sorry! I wish I had). But, I have enjoyed navigating my way through this decade and find the soul searching helpful.
And I think we can all use a little help sometimes.
Hello! I'm Anna, a former journalist with a whole lot of love in my heart and thoughts in my head.
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