It could be taking a new job, relocating due to your job, staying in a relationship, staying at university, moving out of home, moving to be with someone, starting a business, taking a career break, traveling… Oh the agony of staying put or jumping ship.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve contemplated the pros and cons to the point of despair. You overthink every minor detail. Your indecisiveness causes stress, worry, unhappiness. And just when you’ve pretty much come to a decision, your mind throws in yet another “but”. A ship wasn’t made to stay docked in the harbor and all that…
I believe our 20’s is a time for self-discovery.
Adventure. Growth. Development. If not now, when?! We’re so lucky to live in an age where we have this decade to spare. Gone are the days of having to have your whole life figured out, a house, a spouse and a kid or two by the mid-20’s.
Yet all this freedom is overwhelmed with expectations.
Nearly three-quarters of those with an anxiety disorder were diagnosed by age 21.5. Suddenly we’re real adults, ID cards and everything, tossed out into the world with too many expectations hurled at us. From when we should finish our studies, to having a ‘real’ job, to finding a partner, to having a social life, to progressing up the career ladder, to moving in with said partner, to living happily ever after. Let us remember SUCCESS IS PERSONAL! The twentysomethings of our generation play by new rules.
Rule of the decade (well, for our entire lives actually):
Figure out what’s best for the You right now, and do it, and be it.
Not future you. Not you-when-you-start-a-family-how-are-you-going-support-them-you. Not you-by-the-time-you’re-X-years-old. Just You. Right here. Right now. Today.
See, ‘staying put’ often has negative connotations with a desperate cling to security. To stability, safety, to comfort zones. Fear. So often are we bombarded with articles titled “I Sold All My Belongings and Travelled The World So You Should Too!“. But what if, like me, what you actually need is a base? A chance to build foundations?
I need a temporary hold on constant uprooting and change and newness. While twentysomethings are often characterised by the way we never stay still, trapped in a cycle of wanting whatever someone else has, deep down, I need to home in.
I need to settle into routines, into life! Years back I thought I could be this ‘Expat of the World‘, taking jobs here and there, trying different things, never staying long enough for it to become mundane. And yeah, next year in June after my 25th birthday, I see myself taking a years “sabbatical” (so to speak). Throwing myself into anything and everything. Nepal, New Zealand. Morroco, Brazil, Austria. Romania, China. Volunteer work, a bit of teaching, a whole lot of yoga, maybe get my Divermaster certification, I dunno really- focus on language acquisition, try new foods, hear new sounds, discover new cultures and learn their histories.
But if I did start all that this June, it feels premature. Opposed to a grand once-in-a-lifetime venture, it feels like running away, looking for a distraction from life.
Because the me in this moment needs to slow down. I need time to grow into me! Sarah. I need to learn how to feel okay- not only okay, but happy– without love. Without a relationship. I need to develop healthy habits
(Stop binge drinking). I need to develop me, basically. I’m like a half-formed fetus right now! What’s the use in rushing into the next chapter when I’m not finished with this one?
It’s easy to worry that more time in the same place is wasted time, but it’s only wasted if I allow it to be. Any time spent learning and growing is absolutely well spent. (And proven to reduce the risk of quarter/midlife crises).
Gosh, what a privileged dilemma to find myself in! Do I want time for me to home in, or time for me to open and see and experience?
Whatsmore, I can open and see and experience right here. Right in this moment. I don’t have to throw myself out into the world. I can throw myself into ME. How blessed am I to be able to say that? To be able to do that?!
It is our right to spend time on ourselves.
How can I best serve others if I don’t know how to best serve myself?
So yes, I suffer with “the island effect” from time to time. I get lonely. My students don’t always appreciate, nor respect me. I’m not exactly where I want to be, but is anyone? Packing up and moving on to a new place would only rehash all those feelings of unsettlement and culture shock and homesickness I’ve only just conquered here! I choose to stay another year and to develop something within myself I can take with me for the rest of my life.
Are you currently going through a period of uncertainty? Being pulled in different directions? What’s best for the You right now? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments!