[Disclaimer: These thoughts are somehow coming to me right at the tail end of a jam-packed and fun-filled NYC weekend. Kind of unrelated to the content here but I felt like sprinkling in some weekend footage in here to lighten things up lol.]
For some reason, few young adults or recent college grads seem to admit the extent of their insecurities or existential life crises — to themselves or to others. I’m all for the fake-it-till-you-make-it mentality but sometimes it’s difficult to keep that act up. It’s hard to feel confident or comfortable with your decisions when there is no guiding north-star for what you should be doing. This is me trying to articulate my confusions and is a true brain dump of some looming thoughts over the past several months — whether self-induced, prompted by certain conversations, or as a reaction to my circumstances. Perhaps writing them down will free up space in my mental reserves for new understandings.
I feel somewhat lost and directionless in many senses. Uncomfortable, fun, exciting, self-fulfilling, are among the slew of emotions I’m struggling to place right now.
Socially, things seem to be all over the damn place. To put it simply: I love spending time with new and old friends, traveling to meet up with people, and doing/seeing new things. When I observe certain friends living the lifestyles I think I want, I tend to rabbit-hole into a thought process of ‘hmm what do I need to do to achieve something like that in <insert X time-frame>?’. Separately, I am so energized by the presence of the friends I don’t get to see or spend time with super often, since I’m soaking in our interactions, their jokes, the comfort of shared silences or laughter, and all-around good vibes.
Geographically, I am continuing to warm up to the notion of living in California but it is hard at times. In a recent Return-to-Office (RTO) pilot work study, we had to go around the room to describe where we live, why we moved, our goals with RTO, and some background or personal details/justifications. I admitted to a bunch of strangers that I moved cross-country primarily for work purposes/to build a work identity after 1+ year of remote work, plan to work in-office at least 3x a week, and that I’m kind of just taking things day by day.
I’m acutely aware that I’m in a transitionary period — trying to build a short-ish term social & professional life in the Bay area. Regardless of your social tendencies (introvert/extrovert/ambivert/etc.), doing this in any location is not easy, let alone in a pandemic. The context in which we get to know each other and our surroundings has dramatically changed. At this moment, I need to stop comparing and contrasting a handful of vastly different romanticized lifestyles [not sure why I do this, but everyone probably does to some degree] — and just live in the present. It’s easy to forget that there are non-glamorous parts of just about every lifestyle. There’s also no shortcut to some of these things. Sometimes I literally combine all the self-proclaimed desirable things about a handful of disparate lifestyles when I’m romanticizing my ideal lifestyle. This is simply not realistic and would likely require a ton of time, energy, and hard work to build!!
Professionally, I feel a bit aimless as in I don’t know what or who exactly I’m working for. As others have eloquently put it, I can’t believe this is the beginning of the rest of life. I need to determine for myself what makes me wake up every morning to work and what would keep me there or how to generate more of that feeling at different stages of my early career. I miss the jittery new-employee energy since it creates an urge to prove yourself (and consequently produce high-quality deliverables).
“Comparison is the root of all evil” was drilled into my head at a workshop I attended in sophomore year of college, and while it’s cheesy it will ring true most of the time. It’s easy to witness people from university (only a year or two older) announcing engagements left and right on Instagram posts. Hearing of friends going on trips you might be envious of. Seeing digital wedding or baby shower content of former employees. Feeling as though others are progressing on the fast-tracks in their desired career tracks. For me, these sorts of things generally instill an internal feeling of “why am I not doing more with my life?” if I’m not careful. I think in college it was easier to mentally perform lateral comparisons since a similar “rubric” applies to many of your peers, but the same does not apply once everyone has graduated — there’s so many more variables and deviances.
I recently listened to this podcast, which said something along the lines of “every second you waste looking at someone else’s life is reducing the time you could be spending to improve your own”. This hit me with the sobering realization that I need to work hard at creating the sort of life, lifestyle, and mindset that I want. Personally, much of this was predetermined in college — having friends located nearby, living in the heart of a city, living close to family, etc.
I guess on a more meta-level I’m just struggling to accept the pace of life and understand my place in my surroundings.
If you’re also experiencing similar thoughts by chance, I’m willing to bet we’re not alone in these confusions and am confident that these confusions will ease with time.