Disclaimer, this is not a guide on how to deal with your quarter-life crisis. I’m sure if you’d want to hear me talk about how you simply shouldn’t sweat the small stuff, you would have just grabbed one of the many self-help books, filled with generic, ‘one size fits all’ advice. Besides, I just wrapped up a two-hour overthinking session five minutes ago, so handing out advice would be unnatural to say the least. To be honest, I’m not even sure where I’m going with this, I’m just thinking out loud about something I know most twentysomethings deal with at some point.
When you graduate, the expectation is that it will feel like a soft breeze of fresh air. You know exactly what you want, companies are begging you to come work for them and your parents are as proud as they can be. And I’m sure that this is how a lucky few experience it, but I know that for most of us, graduating feels like someone releases you from a safe hug and pushes you into a black hole. The following years are filled with stressful decision making and the kind of worries that keep you up at night.
And while you’re figuring it all out, comparing yourself to the ‘I’ve got my whole life together at all times’ illusion that you observe on social media and often consider reality is inevitable. The goal is to live your best life and the deadline was ten minutes ago because time is running out, so you need to perform better and faster. Because, how can you be in your twenties and not have 18 different projects running, a job that you’re in love with and a solid, fool-proof 10-year plan? Meanwhile, you’re juggling a free internship with a stressful, low-paid weekend job and on top of that, you’re thinking about making a career change while your first career hasn’t even taken off yet.
Also, let’s not forget about your overbearing parents, who are nervously eyeing you from a corner, not sure what it is that you’re doing exactly. Growing up as a Muslim woman in a Moroccan household, you just know that there is no such thing as making decisions that will only affect your life. At birth, you’re automatically assigned the role of ambassador of everyone that carries your last name. It’s a position that you never applied for, yet there you are carrying all the disadvantages that it comes with. Every decision that you’re trying to make, feels like it will affect about 5 generations of your family. This leads to the fear of disappointment and the crippling guilt that goes hand in hand with making decisions in your own interest.
And with all the pressure, there are days where you simply want to exit for a while. Grab a few things, book a single ticket to Bali and do the whole ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ thing and never look back. Unfortunately, we’re not Julia Roberts so not only could we barely make it to Bali given that we’re financially challenged (read: broke) in this stage, but it’s also quite unhealthy to get stuck in a delusional episode for too long. And I know I said I wasn’t going to hand out pieces of advice, and it’s mostly because I don’t want to create the illusion that one piece of advice can take away all the uncertainty that comes with figuring out your future.
There IS one thing, however, that keeps me positive and motivated towards my future when I’m in a rut. I envision myself in a few years and ask myself a few questions. What occupies me? Who am I surrounded by? Where am I living? It’s the kind of mental picture that is based on what you’d like to achieve, not on what you should or must according to whoever it is that you feel pressure from. And then the next step is to ask yourself how you can make that vision reality, baby step-wise. Because most of those steps could involve life-changing decisions like moving or cutting off a few people out of your life. So, it’s not going to be the easiest, smoothest ride, but it’s one that will be worth it in the end.
There’s one thing that I’m learning as I’m getting older. When it comes to your life and your happiness, there are times where you have to make the kind of decisions that might not make everyone around you clap and cheer excitedly. You might have to choose the path that isn’t the one that your parents envisioned for you or one that doesn’t come as easy. But I’d rather have it that way than be 50-year-old, look back onto my life and regret never having chosen the life I wanted for myself. So, choose you. And these last words are a reminder to myself in the first place.
23 years old communication student who is all about fashion, women's empowerment and good memes. Current goals? To be Carrie Bradshaw minus the excessive heart-breaks. And above all, dismantling the patriarchy would be nice too.