It’s been a while hasn’t it. The longest I’ve gone without blogging. Thank goodness Google remembered my password. I’ve been going through a thing. A self-discovery-cum-crisis thing. So here I am, opening up about it…
You are not the first person to feel afraid, and you are not the first person to feel unworthy, but that is where your story begins, not where it ends. There is no roadmap. There is only faith. The act of it, if not the feeling. Keep going.
– Meg Fee
Sweating from a heaving journey of armpits in faces and elbows in sides, she came through her front door to an empty flat. She ripped off her bag pulling out strands of long tangled hair, stripped off her jacket, hurling it as soon as it stretched off the wrist onto a pile of strewn clothes. She inched beneath unmade covers and she cried. Sobbed. Clenched fingers grasped at her crumpled forehead and she wept. An hour later he crept in and sat at the end of the bed, a hand lightly resting on the lump of a covered foot. I feel lost, was all she could muster. I don’t know who I want to be. Mascara bled from her eyes, pools of black misery soaking into the pillow. And I don’t know how to begin finding out.
That hysterical girl, not yet a woman, was me. Is me.
All I knew is that I’d woken up and realised that everything I’d been so sure of in the past was now completely uncertain. I had no idea what I was doing with my life anymore and what version of myself I wanted to be. I still don’t. Do I want to be the girl who does yoga in the morning? Who wears slogan t-shirts and patent red boots? Who has stories to tell of spontaneous nights in London or road trips in Europe.
The first twenty or so years of life are somewhat laid out. Education, a home with bills and food you don’t even consider the cost of, a few interviews for weekend jobs to provide that first step of independence. You discover which subjects leave you hungry to learn more and they become your career choices, your hobbies. You try new things and fail, you succeed in ones that surprise you.
There are decisions to be made, naturally. What to study – and where to do it – but like the other stages of my academic life, choosing a degree was so clear in the moment. I want to be famous, I said when I was five like it was an obvious aspiration. I want to be a lawyer, I announced as I reached my mid-teens. I want to be a wedding planner, I assertively declared as I picked out a course that I was assured would be my future.
But then the life I’d been building towards stopped making me happy. It crept up on me and shook me from my core. Any successes and recognition suddenly felt pointless because I didn’t want what they represented. I’d spent years slowly gaining self-confidence through verification. And now it didn’t count for anything. There was no result. I wasn’t the best in my class anymore. My adventure savings remained stagnant. I opened Netflix rather a Word Document. My bad hip ached and lazy meals became the routine. I looked back and saw two years of passive living but the disappointment equalled the fear to change any of it. I became too scared to dream. Because I was 25 and all I saw was failure.
When you’ve dreamed of creating a life you are confident will result in happiness, and it doesn’t, how do you then find out what does?
Before my early twenties, I very rarely had to give anything up through choice. Yes I freely decided to stop childhood ballet lessons, but everything else came to forced end. Part time work left as you move to university, student houses come and go with each year complete, every big change a part of a plan.
To change any aspect of my life would require me to do so alone, without exterior forces. No expiry dates imposing such change, no plan to follow. Endless possibilities to many would be so enthralling yet I was left simply terrified.
Through the twists of anxiety and weeks of panic that my twenties would slip by me, I took to words. Read in memoirs of becoming oneself, listened to in life coaching podcasts, paired together in my head; one chapter of my short life. And then I wrote it out. Every last drip of confusion. One simple entry into a journal. I don’t know who I am. And that is ok.
No one warns us about our mid-twenties. About the confusion of self-discovery. About how even those who have their shit together, really, well don’t. They don’t warn you until it happens. No one knows what the fuck they’re doing, my friend Jane said, we’re just all figuring it out.
I don’t know who I want to be… but I’m coming to terms with it. I’ve accepted that part of being myself is finding out who that person is to begin with and that it will include mistakes, sadness and imperfections. I’ll see rejection. I might even fail, numerous times. I’ll definitely get it wrong somewhere. But if I don’t start showing up for the life that I’m hoping to find I’ll never get there. So here’s to writing flawed sentences, shaking in downward dog, a beer over a cocktail in favour of saving a few pound coins.
Here’s to starting somewhere.
If you are feeling anxious, confused or just want to know you’re not alone in figuring out how to be you, I highly recommend the words of Laura Jane Williams, Meg Fee, Daisy Buchanan, Cara Alwill Leyba, Lucy Lucraft and so many more.
So beautifully written Eppie. At 28, I feel it all, it gave me goosebumps. Life can be tough but noone prepares us for the toughest part, when we’re supposed to have a handle on the tools we need for life, yet we don’t really know in which direction to wave those tools at, never mind HOW we’re supposed to use them.
Thank you for perfectly wording what many of us are currently feeling.
Oh you have got it so right! Thanks for your lovely comment xx
I’ve been meaning to read this post for a while now but have been saving it until I had the proper time. I’m glad. That girl you described at the start – that’s me. I’ve been there and I’m living through it now and whilst I’m sad to know that other people are going through the same thing, it’s also very reassuring. I thought I had everything planned and pulled together, but for some reason this year I just haven’t been able to do anything.
It’s a really difficult place to be but I hope you get through it and, if you can, keep writing about it because it will give other people strength. Thanks for sharing such an honest post and I’m definitely going to check out some of your recommendations.
Such a beautiful comment Nicola, thank you. All I can say is, I get you girl. Let’s keep writing, dreaming and enjoying the small moments in between. x
I just turned 30 a few weeks ago but this resonates with me 100%. I studied international politics then got a master’s in theatre arts and have worked the gammit from human rights organisation to actress to university programming coordinator. And so much of it felt wrong and awful.
It’s only been over the past 2 years or so that I’ve really felt that I’ve been coming in to the person that I was meant to be. We put way too much pressure on people to figure things out early on!
I love hearing everyone’s journeys, they’re all so unique and interesting. I’m so glad you’re feeling that you’re coming into your own, I really hope to get there!
I totally feel everything you’ve said in this post… I go through this on nearly a daily basis, wondering what I should do as my next step and stressing out about it because I somehow think my life/career should all be perfect and sorted right now even though I’m only 26! I think it’s important to step back from it and try and enjoy the moment a bit more, which for me is definitely easier said than done as I’m obsessed with my ‘life plan’ and how it’s going to fall into place. I guess it’s important to remember than none of us are alone in worrying about all of this and it’ll all work out in the end!
This is so true and something I’m trying to do – stepping back and just enjoying the moment. I like to believe things do fall into place but its hard to know where to start! Here’s to doing our best to put the ‘life plan’ down and seize the moments!
Love this post, Eppie. I truly do. I am 24 myself (25 in October) and I really feel this struggle you are writing about. The mid twenties are a whole different ball game and I feel like nobody talks about/teaches you how to deal with it. I also feel like recently I have been floating along, being passive about what I want my *actual* life to be… when the truth is I am living my *actual* life right now! Anyway, looking forward to reading more of your reflective/personal posts as you journey through this self discovery!
Thanks Sarah! It’s so strange how we’re all going through this confusion yet no one massively talks about it. Let’s live how we want to live! x
That made me feel everything…. my girl xxxx