"What Am I Doing?" Says Every 20-Something Ever

"Does my family think I'm a failure?"

"What am I doing with my life?" she said...

Hi, my name is Julia. I’m 23-years-old and I have no idea what I’m doing with my life. Alright, perhaps that’s a bit of an exaggerated statement but nonetheless, there is a lot of truth in said statement.

Welcome to adulthood, ladies and gentlemen. In other words, welcome to that time in your life where you’re on this continuous roller-coaster that will seem enjoyable and exciting, yet has the ability to make you want to throw up. Sound fun? Oh yeah.

“How do I eat healthy if it’s expensive?”

“How do you cook salmon?”

“How do I redeem my debit card?”

“Will my degree actually get me the job I want?”

“What’s the point of college if everyone says it screws you over?”

“How do you make friends as an adult?”

“How can I travel and go on adventures when I’m poor?”

“How are they going on adventures if they’re poor?”

“How exactly do you make a professional looking resume?”

“Why am I all of a sudden sporting this pooch belly?”

“I didn’t have this pooch belly when I was a teenager”

“Why can’t I eat Taco Bell anymore!?”

“How long does this pain and agony go on?”

“Why do I feel guilty when I enjoy myself once in awhile?”

“How do I know when I can ‘treat myself?”

“Does my family think I’m a failure?”

Oh, and the big question that we all are dying to know:

“How in the world do I become happy and not live a miserable adult life whilst still adult-ing and being responsible?”

So, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. I live in my own apartment and pay for rent. I have two semesters left of college. I have a job. I was published this past summer. I’ve already had my first paying internship as an editor assistant under my belt. I try to stay on top of school work. But at the same time, I stay up until four in the morning for no reason other than terrible insomnia. I have skipped the occasional biology lecture. I eat in my sleep and wake up to candy wrappers scattered all of my bed like a child. I’m stubborn and lazy, and I spend money on frivolous things like salted caramel lattes when I should be saving up for things after school.

What am I doing? They say I am an adult, but I feel like I’m in this foreign in between— and this is worse than my teenage years. And what could be worse than being full of angst and be sixteen? At least as a teenager, my irresponsible behavior was expected. As an adult, I’m mixing in juvenile tendencies with grown-up actions and there is hardly any consistency. Is this normal!? And don’t go on telling me that “there is no such thing as normal,” because I’m really at a loss here; I’m stuck. If you’re in the same boat as me, I honestly don’t know what to tell you, but try and stay afloat. That’s all we really can do, huh?

One of the things that I really don’t like is when young adults just starting off in the world go to an older person for advice, or to just simply vent— and when they do that, the mentor just tilts their head back, laughs, and says, “This is just the beginning. Get used to it.” I mean, come on. Is that really necessary? We’re not stupid. We already know that our future will be filled with more existential crisis', followed by midlife crisis’, bills, debt: the whole-nine. So older people, for future reference, don’t tell us youth what we already know and are currently dreading. It’s not helping. You are not helping. Want to know what I’m most afraid of in this journey called adulthood? I’m afraid I won’t get to do what I truly want to, like traveling— or genuinely, authentically, 100% letting go of fear and worry and just live in the moment. I’m not only a confused twenty-three-year-old super-senior enduring her fifth year of college— I also struggle with obsessive, irrational thoughts, anxiety brimming to no end, and the casual depressive episodes. Mix that all together with the immense stress of our society and how expensive things really are and voila— you have me. Right now, my world consists of constantly stressing out over what I want to do with my degree after I graduate. And that’s half because of people always asking me, and the other half is me wondering the same thing. Do I know? Here’s my one worded answer: Kinda.

You know what I really want to do? I’ll tell you. All I want is to graduate college next fall, slowly start paying all of my college loans back even though I’ve come to accept that I’ll be in debt after I’m a corpse, keep writing on the side and try to get published again, work the occasional coffee shops as a barista, and try to find a “big girl” job that has to do with my field of interest, i.e. creative writing, English, literature. Anything. I could turn this whole thing into a self deprecating, dark humored rant, but I’ll save that for stand up (my boyfriend keeps telling me that I should pursue stand up comedy because apparently I’m funny and people can relate to me). Anyway, I just want those who are reading this to not feel like they’re stranded out on this twenty-something Stressville Island all by themselves. And if you feel like you’re a failure (like I do most of the time), stop being so hard on yourself. So if you ask yourself “What am I doing?” on a daily basis, I guess my best answer would be something I would want to tell myself: “What am I doing right now?” That’s the part where you should focus on the accomplishments currently in your life, emphasize the good aspects, the ones that made you feel great about yourself. Start there and see where you go. And when I say accomplishments, I don’t mean huge ones like “I went on a cruise to Italy,” or something extravagant like that. Be honest. It could be something as humbling as “I studied hard for that exam and I know I did my best regardless of the outcome,” or “I’m really short on money right now, so I’ll save what I can and if I mess up I’ll keep trying.”

One more thing, twenty-somethings. I am the queen of being mean to myself about my life and my future. On a daily basis, I tell myself that I am stupid, lazy, worthless, annoying, a failure, immature, and that I am going to end up a homeless person living on a bench next to a fast food restaurant on the outskirts of town. (I know, that was weirdly specific). If you’re anything like me, we need to knock it off. Yeah, easier said than done. But dammit, we are wonderful people, and I love our generation. We’re messy, and it’s all messy and complicated and confusing, but we’re doing our damn best. Realize that, okay?

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"What Am I Doing?" Says Every 20-Something Ever