This is the second post in a three-part series by writer and mental health advocate Louise Jones. For Rose & Butterfly, this is an experiment in writing about personal development while being coached. In this second installment Louise confronts her own quarter-life crisis.
I hit rock bottom two months after I’d moved back home after finishing university. On the way to being dropped off at my temporary admin job in a hospital, I told my mum to take me to our GP surgery. I’d been in such a foul, disoriented state for so long – particularly that morning – that she didn’t argue. She pulled into the carpark, I stumbled into reception, and the waiting room ground to a halt as I had a breakdown and was taken straight in to see my GP. It was horrendous.
In my last post, I detailed how I was a seriously high-achiever as a kid and teenager. The world was my oyster and I was expected, by myself and others, to continue to thrive at university. Reader, I didn’t. I very quickly became wrapped in anxiety for a number of reasons, slowly fell into depression over the three years, and had some unfortunate experiences. I couldn’t wait to leave. I’d move back home, graduate, and start again. I was obsessed with the thought of hitting the reset button and carrying on from where I left off pre-university.
Obviously, that didn’t happen.
Anxiety and depression don’t necessarily fly away once you’re in a different environment. Life carries on. It’s pretty linear, we think. I was still the anxious and depressed person I was at university, just now at home surrounded by my family who expected me to fall into a career, never mind a job. I went to university to get the degree for a high-flying career, right? So, why was I panicking? Why didn’t I know what I wanted to do? Why did I feel totally lost?
We can experience what feels like pressure to make a lot of decisions as children on what we want to do when we grow-up, and these decisions are often influenced by a tiny little bubble, consisting of family, friends, teachers, and social media feeding the instant gratification culture. It’s easy to go along with the consequences of these decisions through standard schooling when there are processes and goals put in place for you, but as soon as you’re drop-kicked out of this system you can get stuck. There’s no safety net, unless you decide to get another degree, then another, and another…
It’s no wonder people insist on the existence of a second puberty in your early 20s. Another time in your life full of decision-making, newfound independence, hormone surges, complex relationships and friendships, and a multitude of changes. But instead of accepting and dealing with this ‘puberty’, we shame it. If we don’t know what to do with our lives by 22, we’re struggling. We’re on the fast-road to failure. We screwed up.
We’re the generation of instant gratification. We’re used to fast pace. We buy with a click and receive the same day, we watch a whole TV series in an afternoon, we have hundreds of people validating our lives and experiences on multiple social media platforms. It makes sense that we panic and react quickly when we don’t get that job, when we don’t get a pay rise within six months, when we don’t try to move on and up within two years. We’re terrified of waiting and the idea of settling. We want more and we want it now.
We’re also acutely aware of the moves of hundreds, thousands of people 24/7 – the good moves, that is. We constantly watch people succeed. Friends, family, and people we don’t even know. We’re jealous of them all. We’ve no idea how they really feel, how often they actually ‘fail’, and how hard they’ve worked to nab another success; we only focus on the outcome: the achievement.
Two years after graduating, I feel I should be doing more. I should be earning more. I should be more responsible. I should have more contacts. I should have had more jobs. But… why? I’m 24. Why am I so obsessed with continuing to succeed, and why are all my worries career-focused? Who says that my value of success and achievement should be solely focused within a career? Screw that. I succeed every single day in being me, and I’m constantly growing and learning and finding my worth and happiness. In the final part of this series, I’ll brag about those successes and show how YOU can shift YOUR outlook on life during your Quarter-Life Crisis. Remember, most of us don’t know what we’re doing. We’re all constantly making it up. Embrace that.
Tips from Rose & Butterfly
Helen says: “Remember that what has happened to you is not who you are, nor does it define what you’re capable of or what possibilities are available to you. Louise experienced significant anxiety and depression in her first twenty or so years and yet has been able to take ownership of her life and move forwards to explore new possibility. The depression still rears its head but her response to it has shifted. This ability is not because she has superior character traits, but because she is operating from a position of courage and is willing to challenge her thoughts and feelings, rather than give in to them. If you’re interested in working towards a new mindset, the following may help.
- Feel as if time is running out? Check out our post: Patience is not the ability to wait.
- Start to build a picture of your resilience by listing 10 things you’ve done to manage in challenging circumstances.
- Contact Helen at Rose and Butterfly for a free 20-minute discovery call to discover how coaching could benefit you.
- Sign up to Rose and Butterfly’s 2018 You First: Self Care and Life Goals Workshop. Early Bird Tickets on sale until 1st Dec 2017
Want to catch up on the rest of this series?
Part One: The curse of the over achiever