At 22 years old, I thought I had it all.
I was a recent college graduate who not only financed her entire college education on her own, but who also received honors from the university and her department. I had two job offers before I walked on stage to get my diploma.
I had a healthy relationship, a loving and supportive family and great friends cheering me on. Some would think my life was "perfect."
But when I had a nervous breakdown a month after starting my full-time job, everything changed.
I was hospitalized for my intense headaches and lack of appetite, and my anxiety had kept me homebound for two weeks. I couldn't sleep; I couldn't eat, and I ultimately felt like I had lost sight of myself and who I was.
It was the scariest moment of my life. I had lost all control.
I was always the type of woman who thought she would have her life figured out post-graduation. I dreamed about having a career all mapped out, and my bank account thriving as fast as I was climbing up the ladder to success. So, when I realized I was in a job that just wasn’t for me, no matter how stable it was, I knew I had to quit.
In life, sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can reach your destiny.
It was Marilyn Monroe who said,
“Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”
My breakdown revealed to me the most important things about life and myself.
1. Do what you love.
As much as people will want to tell you otherwise, money isn’t everything. If you’re unhappy and struggling through the day (even if you’re earning a salary), it doesn’t actually pay off.
You have to be true to yourself, to your gut and to your heart. If you’re unhappy with where you are in life, no matter what people may say, you have to make a change and do what is best for you, no one else.
One month into my career, I decided it just wasn’t for me. People think I’m crazy, but I think other people are crazy for staying at jobs that don’t suit them.
Production wasn’t an industry I loved because I spent every day yearning to be writing. And even though I’ve heard the sob stories of struggling writers and consistent failure, I haven’t given up on my dreams.
2. It's okay to not be okay.
I don’t know what my next move is right now, and I’m slowly starting to realize that not having your sh*t together in your early 20s is okay. Even though I have spent most of my adolescence dreaming of the day I’d graduate and walk into a job, it’s okay not to have it all figured out right away.
Things may seem horrible, and you may feel like a bit of a failure. But if you’re making strides to figure out what you want out of life, you’re doing better than you think.
3. You can't control everything.
I’m a control freak. Maybe it’s because I have anxiety, or maybe it’s because the unknown freaks the sh*t out of me, but I always want to know what my next move is so I can prepare.
As a college student, it was easy for me to have control of my life by mapping out my class schedule around my work schedule, finding time to have a night out to de-stress and setting aside time to write my papers.
But, as an adult in the real world, having control is almost impossible. With the abundance of my qualified peers trying to enter the workforce, with the same experience and qualifications as I do, finding a full-time job is harder than ever.
4. Patience is everything.
My father once told me, "Life is a journey, not a sprint."
I’m still trying to embody those words of wisdom, but I haven’t quite got it down just yet. I’m always trying to figure out my next move, and when I don’t hear back from a company or prospective employer right away, I usually freak.
Having patience is the only way to keep yourself together. Not everyone in the world is as fast-paced and plugged in like us Millennials.
5. Stop thinking everyone else has it together.
Social media always glorifies people’s good times and good days. When you’re going through a lot, seeing everyone else having their sh*t together makes you feel worse for not having yours together.
But remember that social media is just a microscope in people’s lives; it’s what they want the world to see. In the grand scheme of things, it’s only a chapter in their entire novels of their lives.
When you’re feeling down, social media is the last thing that’s going to help. Instead of focusing on their lives, focus on your own and how to get back to where you want to be.
The more energy you put to bettering yourself, the further you’ll go in life. Wasting energy on other people isn’t only counterproductive, it's also just tiring.
6. Don't rush through life.
Sometimes, I have to stop and remember I’m only 22. No matter how mature I think I am, or how much crap I’ve been through in life, I am still young.
These are the “selfish” years, the ones in which you’re supposed to be constantly laughing with a drink in your hand and living carefree.
I mean, I don’t have kids or a mortgage, and I’m free to be exactly who I am, with no remorse or apologies. It’s about time we embrace these days, before they’re long gone.