Feeling Overwhelmed In Your 20’s Is Normal
March 2023 | Written by Lydia Sweetser
When I was younger, I pictured my 20’s as the decade I would have it all together: I would have my dream job (whatever that was?), a one-bedroom apartment I could afford in some posh city, a cute well-trained dog, the perfect relationship, a flourishing social life, a workout routine that kept me at my peak, and a wardrobe straight off the runway.
Then I actually entered my 20s and realized that vision was created out of false ideals created in movies and TV shows.
First of all, if you go to a traditional college during the first couple years of your twenties, you still feel like a kid– you’re kept in the ‘safer’ bubble of college life. You have responsibilities, but there is some security and control over your schedule because classes, extracurriculars, and jobs take up most of your time. But don’t worry; most people are in the same boat as you– pulling all-nighters to study for a test because you wanted to hang out with friends or had to work a late shift.
When you are solely working or even going to school part-time, you have more and more control over your free time. This leaves many, including me, feeling lost and overwhelmed with the possibilities of how we can spend this time.
Being in our post-college twenties, most of us are hit with the inevitable identity crisis. At any age, especially with the hit of the COVID-19 pandemic, you can reach a point of feeling lost. Your twenties are a time of transitioning out of a life where you had less control over your own time to a life where you can do whatever you want with your time while also taking on a load of new responsibilities.
During this stage, feelings of anxiety and confusion are more common than ever. There are infinite ways I can regurgitate what the self-help books and self-awareness gurus tell you, but I am here just to give my personal experience.
I’m here to tell you that you are not alone.
There are so many outside pressures to fit into a predetermined box, to live a certain way. I mean, isn’t everyone on TikTok and Instagram having more fun than you? Living their best life while you are still trying to figure it all out?
When we enter our twenties, we hope to stay in touch with college friends, do our best at our new job(s), spend time dating, stay in shape, and don’t forget all those hobbies you want to explore. Sometimes it feels like there is not enough time in the day to do it all. And truthfully, there isn’t.
It is okay to feel like you’re getting pulled in a million directions. Just take a deep breath (trust me, it truly helps more than you’d think).
I know I said you can’t do it all in one day, but you can spend a little time each day on different aspects of your goals. Avoid spreading yourself too thin by finding a personal balance that will leave you feeling fulfilled.
Your breaking point may be reached if you don’t pace yourself and understand that you don’t have to do it all in one day.
Set priorities so you don’t overcommit and exhaust yourself.
There are many aspects of your well-being and health that you may need to prioritize over others, and that is okay. It might depend on the phase of life you are in or simply how you feel that day. Don’t feel guilty for wanting to spend more time working toward your professional goals, networking, and building up your resume, even if that means saying no to GNO one night. Communication is key when learning to balance all of your goals and aspirations; true friends will understand and support you. For a happy compromise, ask to meet up for coffee the next day so you can spend time with them within your schedule instead of trying to make it fit where it may not.
Speaking from personal experience, as you learn what works best for you, the balance will get easier and easier.
For example, I spend two-three nights a week with my boyfriend. Usually, one of those nights is with him and friends; this way, I get to spend time with my boyfriend and friends! I don’t schedule it out day to day, but every week I take a look at what I have to do and really prioritize; this way, I can visualize where new plans can fit into my schedule. Whether that is meeting up with a friend for coffee, taking my dog on a long walk to the beach, watching a movie with my boyfriend, or getting my nails done. Things that you care about can all fit into your schedule as long as you are adding things into your life as they fit– not forcing something to work because you can’t say no.
Remember, “no” is a full sentence.
At the end of the day, do what makes YOU happy and what fills your cup. Your twenties are the beginning of controlling your life and spending your time the way you truly want. Not everything will be enjoyable 100% of the time, but things you have control over and choose should bring you joy! Enjoy your twenties; it only happens once.