Life is hard and confusing, and it comes at you from all angles and leaves you feeling tiny and lost. We have our lives planned out – school, work, family, bills, repeat.
But what about when you’re in the in-between? What happens when you’re in the process of getting that job or getting into school or meeting that person? How do you get where you ultimately want to be? What do you do when you don’t know what to do?
Things aren’t always perfectly laid out for you, and sometimes you have to go through the infamous season of waiting and unknown in order to realize what you were made to do or be.
1. Have a heart-to-heart with yourself
When was the last time you checked in with your heart and mind? Truly checked in?
Take society, expectations and pathways out of the equation and simply focus on what you want out of this life. What makes you overflow with happiness? What’s one thing you could spend countless all-nighters for? One thing you can’t live without. Something you’ve reluctantly pushed aside in order to do other things.
Take out all the other distractions and seriously ask yourself what you want. Then, you can narrow down which direction to head in.
2. Etch it into your brain that no one knows what’s going on
When you open Instagram, what do you see? Happy, fit families with perfectly clean houses and well-behaved children? A young adult traveling the world while seemingly paying for travel and her student loans while still being able to live (how do they do it…?!).
Whatever the scenario may be, it always seems like everyone else has it together, like everyone else know’s how to play the game of life, like they know some secret to success and happiness that we just can’t grasp.
But guess what! No one knows what’s actually going on, no one has it all together all the time.
And I don’t know if you realize this, but social media is just a highlight reel. Personally, I only post my very best, beautiful photos on my Instagram because I love the way they look! I love photography, but my photos in no way, shape or form depict what my life actually is. (Heck, it’s 4am, I’m sitting at my desk in a half-dark room, wearing the same leggings I’ve worn all week, with greasy hair and a rumbling stomach. Does that sound like my Instagram? Nope.)
No one has it all together all the time, even if it seems like they do. So when you’re caught in the “I don’t know what to do with my life” phase, for the love of God, don’t go to social media and compare yourself to others.
3. You have time! Nothing but time.
A few months ago when I was knee-deep in my existential crisis, all you would hear me say was: “I’m 25… I’m running out of time… I should be X by now… I should have accomplished Y by now…”
But over the months, I’ve come to realize that there is no deadline. Why are we setting up deadlines? We have so much time, and there isn’t a right or wrong way to approach how you want to live your life.
Life is about discovery and exploration. Life is allowing yourself to learn and love and grow. It doesn’t all have to be so serious! We’ve got time. Stop setting unrealistic deadlines. You don’t need to be married at 25. You don’t need to own a home at 30. Do what makes you happy.
Listen, life is about living. Let’s do more of that.
Tips for handling your existential crisis
We’re human, crises like these are bound to happen to everyone. What separates those who learn from these moments and grow, is simply how they deal with it. I probably have some sort of “quarter-life crisis” a few times a month, so I’ve gotten pretty good at this (haha!)
Here are some things that can help:
Get your thoughts out of your head
Letting all your thoughts circle around your brain is detrimental. Keeping all your thoughts cooped up inside you is like sitting in a bathtub of your own filth.
As soon as your thoughts begin to wander toward the black hole that is an existential crisis, grab a journal and write them down. Write down all your fears, anxieties and issues you’re facing. Write down every single negative thought you have and while you do that, visualize your brain getting emptier and lighter, imagine your brain going from shades of gray to shades of white and yellow.
Talk it out with someone you trust
Sometimes just having someone to talk to, who will simply listen, can make all the difference. You don’t need to solve anything or come to a grand conclusion in this chat, just talk it out. Tell them what you’re struggling with and toss all your anxieties on the table.
Just like writing everything out in a journal, this will lighten up the load on your shoulders and likely make everything seem a lot less daunting.
(Plus, having a chat with a friend usually means coffee and snacks, and you can’t go wrong with that!)
Let yourself be negative (but then be positive)
Recently, I was having a bad day. So I opened my journal and made a list of every single thing that was making me upset, every ounce of negativity left my body and found a new home on paper.
Then, I wrote down everything that is good. Everything that is going well in my life, all the positivity, blessings and great things still to come my way.
I left this exercise feeling much better, and I highly recommend doing it if you’re ever feeling low!
Take care of yourself
If you feel like you aren’t in control, do something you do have control over. For me, this is taking care of my health. In the last few months, I lost complete control over my situation and happiness and I felt totally lost. But one thing I could do was carve out the time for myself to exercise and eat healthy.
In the simple act of treating my body right, I gained so much happiness and stability.
What do you do to get through your rough moments? What do you do when you don’t know what to do? ❤