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I recently stumbled upon your blog, and I was so captivated by the genuine and sincere tone of your blog and you give amazing advice (seriously, if you ever get sick of blogging, you totally have that as a fallback). Anyway, I am 23 years old, single, have a good job, but feel totally meh about life. I have not that many friends in the new city I’m in because three of my best friends just moved to other cities. I don’t like my current job or coworkers, nor do I love the city I’m in. I’m looking for other jobs, but in the meantime I feel so defeated and lonely and tired. I feel like I have nothing to look forward to and am afraid I will feel this alone for the rest of my life. You seem so put together and I trust you to give me practical and real advice! Help! I don’t want to throw away my twenties but I feel like my life is buffering and I don’t know how to get myself out of this funk!
Ms. Lonely & Searching
Dear Ms. Lonely & Searching,
The path may get crooked, but the journey is long.
I’m so sorry that you are feeling so lost right now. I wish I could sit there with you, take you by the hand, and show you the future beyond your twenty-three years and all the Life that’s waiting for you just ahead. I know it may not seem this way now, but twenty-three is just the BEGINNING! Nobody knows what they’re doing with the rest of their lives at twenty-three, and even if they think they do, their vision of what that is will be drastically different in just a few years’ time. Trust me. That’s what your twenties are about– figuring out what works for you and what doesn’t. And the fact that you are so interested in searching for meaning, happiness, and connection is truly a testament to your own self-awareness and drive. You’re doing better than you think you are! This idea of “throwing away your Twenties” is making me smile. Talk to anybody in their Thirties (or older) and they will tell you that their twenties were A HOT MESS. How do I know that? I’ve been there.
I wanted to thank you for your question because it reminded me of a time in my own life that the brightness and chaos of my life today had made me forget. And I shouldn’t forget it, because the things I learned then inform so much of who I am now as a Woman, Wife, and Mom. I’ve been exactly where you are. Well, of course not exactly where you are – because the details of every person’s search is unique– but I had the exact same feelings you describe at the exact same time in my life.
Twenty-three was kind of a dark year for me. I had graduated from college and was living in a big bustling city. I didn’t have a really solid group of friends (yet), and the friends I did have all kind of dispersed after college and went their own ways to their own entry-level jobs around the Country. Everyone was bad at keeping in touch because we were all doing our own things, busy with bigger responsibilities for the first time, and trying our best to “adult” like the best of ’em. I was working at my own job that I’d had for a while, but wasn’t really satisfied with it. I thought that there must be a better fit for me out there – something I could work at and feel much more satisfied and proud of what I was doing. The only problem was that I was too scared to try anything new. I had been doing the same job for eight years, and the idea of starting from scratch at something else was so overwhelming to me that I just decided to keep on doing what I was doing. I think if my self-esteem had been higher at that point in my life I would have had the courage to take a leap of faith and it wouldn’t have taken me so long to find something that felt as fulfilling as what I’m doing today. Instead, I distracted myself from my emptiness. I hung out, went out, dated some moderate Losers – and a few others just because they seemed to like me more than I liked myself (major advice: DON’T do that). I don’t think I really valued how important my own hopes and desires were– and my own opinions about what I liked or disliked about significant others, or work, or life in general. Everyone I knew seemed to just be galloping through life and I was scared to stop for a moment and really look at myself and my surroundings and wonder if it was enough. My point, basically, is that you are right on track. These feelings are frustrating to have at 23 – or any age for that matter – but they aren’t any indication of where you are going to end up.
Use these feelings as motivation! Try an exercise where you sit down with a coffee, or tea (or cocktail!), and write a list of the things that really, REALLY make you happy. And be honest. Don’t put anything on that list because you think you should or because you want to believe that it makes you happy. What do you actually want your life to look like, as simple or as complicated, or as bizarre as that may look? Now make a list of the things that you really like about yourself. What are your strengths as a person? What do you bring to the table? Identify every fabulous thing about you and write it down to remind yourself. Look over these lists and realize that this is what your future looks like, no matter what your reality might look like today. Do everything you can to work towards your goals. You won’t reach them in your twenties (nobody does…except maybe Kendall Jenner), but identifying what they are is half the battle. You are going to look up at thirty-three years old and barely remember you ever had these feelings…and then you’ll go someplace and order a glass of champagne and toast to Life and all that it offers, and all that it takes away, and all of the heartbreaking journeys we are all on. Order one for me too, I’ll be in my forties at that point and I’m sure I’m going to need it. LOL.
Be kind to yourself, be thankful that you want a life you love, and definitely definitely definitely don’t forget to surround yourself with people who value you and make you laugh. A lot.
I wish you all the best!!
I recently entered my twenties and this is EXACTLY how I’ve felt for the past year. Things weren’t going according to plan and I found myself upset more than uplifted. It’s so reassuring to know I’m not the only 20-something who feels this way and knowing that the bigger picture is really the journey you never know what life surprises are right around the corner.
Lovely advice. I would add possibly getting on facebook and becoming a member of the group “Fempire” It’s such an inspiring place to go. Women discuss being in dead end jobs…they network on the site…ask for suggestions, recommendations…apartment hunting help. It’s so helpful to see other women openly discussing their struggles and also helpful to see them actively navigating through them. I don’t know about you, but sometimes it’s good to see examples and then forge your own path. The beautiful thing about being in your 20’s is you have ample HUGE room to make mistakes…cue the Dixie Chicks song!
Could you send a link to that page? There are a bunch of Fempire Facebook groups and I’m not seeing the one you’re talking about.
great post. great advice for even this woman in her late 30’s that is wanting and needing a re-charge 🙂 Thank you for sharing and your honest advice.
very good advice!! not just for 20 somethings. I am 48 and still have those kind of days..
Well Sweet Eva, as per usual you are so gifted to give grand advice. As a forty something….closer to that other Milestone age (fifty)…since we share a few friends who are such a blessing to both of us…..during my darker days, they continued to help me see I was a great woman, friend, daughter and aunt…..and shared love and laughter and even their family. I have to say that allowing yourself to feel and experience the highs and lows, realizing the lows make the highs even more precious.
You know I could not wish you, Kyle, Lowie and Baby Boy Martino more love, laughter and happiness. Enjoy your new home, I know you will fill it with many great memories.
Love to all!
Its so refreshing to hear such honest realities from someone, to know that we ALL feel this way at some point. Love your practical, not to mention very useful, advice as well 🙂
Thinking about one’s future plans, brainstorming about what could be and what should be or might be, is all important and sure worth doing.
Let just a 40+ woman (me) tell her view on what might be wisest to prioritize:
as long as you feel lonely, alone, not content with your work nor your co-workers –> parallelly to getting a more fulfilling job with better colleagues (important!!) … which might not that easy to find these days … GO FOR FRIENDS, FRIENDS, FRIENDS.
As soon as you’ve graduated and started the so called ‘adult-life’ you may find that friendship doesn’t come that easy anymore. Those student days weren’t that bad, right?
At least in my bio those days felt richer, fuller, more socializing than during working years later on. Depending on where and what you work, as well.
I had best colleagues in care-giving with good working conditions, where most ppl really stood behind what they were doing and did it with love. It was a home for disabled ppl.
Worst colleagues resp. working place atmosphere was in real etsate, where one department was constantly fighting with another department, as well as in an IT-job, where it seemed most important to nag about other teams or to jump on the latest hot shit trend like buying IT shares (which would go to hell just a couple of years later.)
The IT bubble, that I just mentioned, is a good example. Isn’t it symptomatic for our time? One promise here, that later turns out as a bubble — the next promise there with no better ending.
I’m primarily talking jobs, economics here. In my view there are so many uncertainties these days and only few employees will remain in one and the same company or even the same employment sector longer than ten years. Think back one or two generations –> totally different.
In present times we probably have to figure out how to adapt best to change. How to adapt to ever changing work places, job descriptions, technologies, colleagues … and maybe even family (unstable relationships, divorce of parents,…) and friends in new cities we might move to for the next (temporary) job.
You’d love to have a constant good friend — some permanent instance of love and continuity? I totally agree – this sounds like a good wish and should be tried to find or kept.
Most people keep one or a couple of early childhood/school friends. Great. If, due to moving from place A to B to C to D you finally lost them all, ok, don’t worry.
Random friends, even ‘friends’ for just one joyful, good evening are just as important.
Now an advise from a partly handicapped 40+ … As long as your body is capable of moving: move! You can still dance? Super! Go out, dance! When you come to the point that your body tells you: half a song is already enough dance to exhaust you, things get a lot more troublesome on top of being single/alone and in a not so nice job (if at all you manage to maintain a job while being chronically ill.)
One more fact that I’d like to tell from my past: I had the best time and found the best team of friends in a group, where we were fighting for a common cause. In my case it was an environmentalist group. It could be any action group, a sports/outdoor group, volunteering … many possibilites. The common ground, the common goal is what I found very helpful to find my kind of folks.
As long as you are healthy, you have the best chances to find joy again. When you can’t do this and that, because your body strikes and if your radius shrinks, likeliness to find and stay in contact with interesting people decreases.
Many end up in self-help groups. And then it’s all about the disease. Yawn. Now I totally understand a former friend suffering from multiple sclerosis who would only want to date people without any form of handicap. She quasi had an allergy to people in wheelchairs. It did her good 🙂 I admire her for having the strength to still go out and have plenty of wine and partying despite her chronic illness. Maybe she’ll eventually die of liver failure and not of multiple sclerosis… Let me tell you that this deeply outgoing kind of personality is extremely rare among chronically ill persons.
How many friends in wheelchairs and with multiple sclerosis e.g. do you have? I guess not so many. Most severely chronically ill end up pretty much by themselves plus a hard core of (school) friends and family who’ll keep up with whatever may come.
So, let me remind you to use your body, go out, dance, drink (without ruining your health), try to have fun even with strangers and enjoy to be able to partake.
The older you get, the more difficult it may become.
Stay healthy and enjoy.
Forty Winks….you are spot on! I sadly know how being chronically ill with an invisible disease and sometimes mobility challenged is a curse and a blessing. I wish you good health, love, laughter and many true friendships to bring you through the difficult days.
I’m a huge fan of yours (and Kyle and Lowie’s, too!) and this week’s Answers really spoke to me and made me feel better. I’m also 23, recently single, and my friends and I are all having a hard time adjusting to “adult” life. I look at beautiful families like yours, or relationships like my parents, and I wonder when things will come together for me. I know it takes patience and WORK, but that doesn’t make it any easier to feel how I feel now. I also know I’m not alone in feeling this way, but that doesn’t make it hurt less either. One minute, I think I’m figuring life out, the next I wish I was a little kid again so I could hide under the covers.
Anyway, at the end of this rambling comment I just want to thank you. Your blog and social media always brighten my day. And it is comforting to me to read that you also felt lost in your 20s. I hope you’re feeling well with your pregnancy, and my best wishes to your awesome family.
This is literally my life right now…. I am twenty three on the dot and this is (literally) what I am feeling put into eloquent, coherent words.
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