1. Feeling intimidated (or “My life sucks”)
This day may have come already, or it’s approaching big time, when you take a look around and suddenly realize EVERYBODY is living the life of the Kardashians (“New car, caviar, four star daydream, think I’ll buy me a football team”).
Don’t get frustrated though – take a deep breath, sit back, relax and listen carefully. Facebook (or social media in general) and eavesdropping on a party are not reliable sources of information about your friends’ real lives. Take a minute and think about this – how much time and energy does an instagram post take you? (“Is that a better angle? Does this lighting make me look fat? Which filter? Help me out, I need something witty for the description!”) You get the idea? Web posts are only excerpts of reality, and truth be told, they are the most colorful ones (and if not, a proper filter will do the trick). Nobody likes to talk about their missteps (obviously). If their triumphs are too plain, people usually put a nice spin on them. And I know you know that – now internalize it. Apart from that, you should realize that (drum roll) you are you (what a discovery, right?), not corpo-Craig, blogging-Betty, or wanderlust-Will. It’s your life and you make your own story, so stop comparing yourself with people you hardly know! To compare is to loose.
2. Feeling directionless, unprepared and lost (“Where did all the signposts go”?)
Suffering from insomnia already? How is it possible that once the most relaxing/productive/fun (underline the most suitable option) time of the day has suddenly become so dreadful? We all know it too well, nights are the worst – with hundreds of futures, unfulfilled dreams, and missed opportunities cascading before your eyes – images of you as a Noble Prize winner, famous videoblogger, WTA player, kindergarten teacher, NASA researcher, all floating in your brain, resembling Magritte’s Golconda painting.
Who would have thought such figures and scenarios would be blooming in that small head of yours. I have a plan for you, then. Instead of freaking out, maybe take advantage of your creativity and imagination? It’s obvious you have them – who else would have come up with an idea of a eco-friendly, energy-saving fashion-market ferryboat or write onto a one-hundred-page journal during a single night? Have a plan? Don’t dismiss it, but try making it come true, for a change. Be spongy and flexible! And one more tip, cause feeling lost oftentimes comes hand in hand with a massive alcohol consumption. Don’t drown your fears in alcohol. It will weaken your effectiveness and intensify your vulnerability.
3. Feeling unequal to the challenge (while practicing your brand new mantra “I should, I should, I should”)
So suddenly you get that uneasy feeling that some people are watching you closer than ever (mainly supervisors, parents, already-settled-down-and-so-successful-it-hurts friends you truly disdain but refuse to block on Facebook, etc.). You dig a trench to hide from their precision-bombing with questions (i.e.: considerate subliminal suggestions that your life is falling into the gutter and you should do something about it). You slowly get the idea that when you get asked about your future plans, it’s not sufficient anymore to shrug your shoulders, smile cheekily and mutter something like ”Yeah, yeah, maybe I’m gonna open my private business or something, I don’t know, whatever, do you want a drink?”. You start to sigh and groan a lot (people can tell when you’re approaching), you worry about almost every little bit of your daily life (“A cheese sandwich or a ham sandwich? Gosh, why my life is so hard?!”), the encroaching waves of anxiety flood your once-so-peaceful mind and eventually you have a major nervous breakdown in front of your cat, who just doesn’t seem to get it (“Winston you are oh so inconsiderate!”).
Sorry, got a little bit driven away on this one. I’m just messing with you! There is no need to worry, in fact, there is a pretty big chance you’re going to avoid this scenario. In order to do that, however, you do need some planning, organizing and prioritizing. Step by step, slowly but persistently, make a working draft plan of your short-term and long-term future goals. Then organize yourself around it. The prioritizing bit, on the other hand, refers mainly to the people you surround yourself with – remember that friends should make you feel inspired, provide you with sound advice and constructive criticism, and generally make you feel good about yourself. You should ditch all psychic vampires and their unreasonably great expectations set for you. And, mind you, this is the only legitimate “should” you have to take into consideration.
4. Feeling like going for a MAJOR change (or “I’m going to save yellow-cheeked crested gibbons in Cambodia!”)
You think: “Now it is the time, to turn my life around, 180 degrees!” Finally you’re about to be finished with law school, and hell, why not try becoming a make-up artist? Working on film sets! Doesn’t it sound legit? It’s worth a shot, you’ve watched hundreds of tutorial-videos on youtube, that should suffice, right? Your make-up collection is pretty meager, but you’re willing to make an investment. You feel like you’ve finally found your true calling. Well… I don’t want to be a party-pooper, but it may not be such a good idea. Although, I am a firm believer in pursuing your dreams no matter what, the point I’m trying to make here is that dreams need some solid grounding. It’s essential to tell a great pie in the sky from a flash in the pan. Try figuring out where all these crazy lifestyle-changing ideas are coming from – maybe you’re bored? Maybe you’re scared? Maybe you feel like you don’t fulfill your potential? Could be, that you indeed need a change – just remember you don’t have to super size it.
5. Feeling desperate (but cool) (“I’m a looser baby, so why don’t you kill me” or “syndrome of the lost generation”)
You’re 25 and you’re pretty sure your life is over and there’s nothing more waiting for you.
You’ve come to terms that you’ll end up as a 40-something bachelor/spinster living with your parents (and, what’s probably the worst, that vision does not scare you, quite the opposite). You’ve given up all your dreams, you sit all day, watch bad reality TV, eat microwave-oven food and count the passing days. You get out of house only on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, when you meet up with the ones like you, play Texas Holdem, drink (too much) cheap beer and grumble about “people these days”, taxes and the latest Adam Sandler’s movie, while your university diplomas are being written by the ghostwriters.
Seriously, though, get it together. My advice for you is to get back on track, whatever it takes. It’s not gonna happen overnight. I’m not telling you to become the crazy-optimist, high on life eternally-walking-on-sunshine kinda type either. But trust me on that – it’s no longer considered cool to be the dispassionate, coldblooded groaner whose role model is SpongeBob SquarePants.