Lots of things have been running through my mind lately – questions about what I want to do with my life, what my passions are, and how I want to build my life. And whilst I realise that only I have the power to discover what I truly want and to build the life I want I am unsure of what it is that I want.
Yet again I find myself at the crossroads of life, and it seems as though each choice I make now will impact me – forever. But really this is a stupid thought – nothing really lasts forever and changing one’s life course is not as hard as one might expect, but it is scary. As humans, we are naturally conditioned to enjoy stability but to me stability is… boring. I think this discord is what lies at the heart of these feelings of insecurity and uncertainty. Naturally I want stability, a life plan because this is easy, but another part of me wants spontaneity, unexpected surprises, and adventure. I guess I just need to figure how to balance this out.
At first I was nervous and anxious because it seemed that everyone around me had their life figured out. Social media is partly to blame for this – picture-perfect Instagrams, updated LinkedIns, and active Facebook feeds mask the realities and internal struggles people are going through. You never really know what truly goes on in people’s lives or in their heads, but it can be hard to remember this on a daily basis.
After looking into this some more, I realised this really is not a new problem, and that these thoughts are a lot more common that I thought. Apparently Soviet authorities in the 1920s, upon establishing health clinics where citizens could come and talk about things that disturbed them, were astounded by the huge amount of young people coming to them with complaints of ‘nervousness’, some being disillusioned and desperate to the point of wanting to commit suicide. The Soviets put this down to the trauma of the social and political upheavals Russia had gone through, but also underlined the impact of young people being involved with a lot of ‘intellectual work’ as well as ‘extensive social responsibilities’. Sounds a lot like university life if you ask me. The idea that ‘youth is the best part of your life’ hides the reality that young people are often stressed and anxious because they are going through so many experiences and learning new things in life.
And then there is the issue of modernisation impacting mental health. More ‘intellectual’ rather than manual work means our brains get stressed out, making us more susceptible to anxiety. The age of information means we have more choice than ever before but it also means we are constantly being bombarded by information we cannot process fast enough. Social media and the internet in general has made us used to instant gratification and straight-forward answers from rapid search results, but has made us forget that big questions and decisions take time, and effort. Also, sometimes life just decides things for you without you asking it to do so.
There are hundreds of videos about the ‘Quarter Life Crisis’, all which reiterate the phenomenon that the current generation of ‘young adults’ is increasingly concerned with finding a meaningful career they can engage with, and how we are more open to non-conventional types of work, but how this is not that easy to find. Yet knowing that I am part of this generation has made it a little easier to cope with my thoughts.
So the takeaway from all this? Nobody, or very few people, know what they are doing with their life, and you are not alone. Talking to others and sharing worries makes the crisis you are going through a little lighter. And sometimes it is good to step back and take time to reflect, whilst other times it is best to simply not dwell on large questions so much and just live life as it comes, and grab the opportunities it throws at you. Now all I need to do is take all this advice and apply it to myself.