Stress is a normal part of life.
Everyone experiences it and it seems like it peaks in our 20s — a decade defined by transition and change.
In our first attempt at making it in the “real world,” we look for new apartments, cities, jobs and try to figure out how to pay off our student loans.
We are finding love, losing love, gaining new financial responsibilities and many other stressors.
Granted, we can’t eliminate all of the stressors in our lives.
But, in the spirit of National Stress Awareness Month, let's try to put the silly, little things that make us unnecessarily frustrated and anxious into a broader perspective.
For all you worrywarts out there, here are five things you can stop stressing about in your 20s:
1. Your relationship status on Facebook.
At one time or another, we’ve all assumed our relationships weren’t official until our significant others pledged commitment via the relationship status button on Facebook.
We’ve all seen what happens next. One week, you are “in a relationship,” the next week, “it’s complicated” and after that, it’s “single” and then back to “in a relationship.”
It’s just plain awkward because with each status update comes one person spewing, “I’m so heartbroken!” and another saying, “It’s what you get for treating me like dog meat!”
This is stupid. Your relationship status doesn’t validate the fact you love each other and if he or she is hesitant to post his or her love life on Facebook for the entire world to see, it doesn’t mean you should question the relationship.
Maybe it just means he or she prefers to keep matters of the heart private.
2. What other people think of you.
We all care way too much about what other people think of us. It’s an irrational and unproductive obsession that urges us to go through life doing things to please others — not always because it’s what we want to do, but because we want to be liked and for people to perceive us in a positive light.
You think the person across the room is judging you, but I guarantee that same person is worried you’re judging him or her.
The truth is, it is impossible to live up to everyone’s expectations, and there will undoubtedly be people who don’t agree with your opinions, the way you dress or the things you do. But, as my Aussie friend, C, says, f*ck 'em.
3. Accomplishing everything on your "30 before 30" list.
When I turned 25, I panicked. The previous five years flew by and in another five years, I would be 30. There was so much I hadn’t done yet and still wanted to do.
The urge to make a list of everything I wanted to accomplish before then came with fervor. Three years later, and now I look at my "30 before 30" list and wonder what the hell I was thinking with many of the items.
For example, run a half-marathon. I hate running. In fact, the thought of running a mile — let alone a half-marathon — is both psychologically and physically traumatizing to me.
I know I can do it, and when I see people on my Facebook newsfeed with their gold and bronze running medals, I get a tad bit envious. But I hate running.
So, I crossed it off the list. Sure, the list has been helpful in many ways; I am always interested in bettering myself, so looking at it occasionally motivates me to put into action the steps I need to take in order to actually accomplish those goals I am committed to seeing out (write a book, be a published author and learn to swim).
The reality is, no matter how hard we plan for our future, life will happen. I may want to do a year-long, around-the-world trip, but I may also fall madly in love and want to get married and make babies.
Marriage and babies didn’t make my list, but if that is in the cards, I’ll gladly accept it. Life unfolds in mysterious ways, so be open to the possibilities it throws you.
It may not align with your grand scheme, but don’t let some list you made years ago (when you were a completely different person) limit you.
4. What others around you are achieving.
It’s hard not to feel a little bit envious of others around you who are aspiring to and achieving their goals. This is never truer than when you hit your mid-20s and the quarter-life crisis ensues.
We end up spending so much time comparing ourselves to what others are doing that it takes away energy from our own aspirations and goals.
Instead of being jealous, be gracious and happy for those around you who are achieving their goals. Use it as inspiration and energy to continue (or start) pursuing what you like and want to achieve.
Homes, marriage, kids – these are all beautiful accomplishments and something you are likely to want one day. But for now, just be happy that you have the freedom and flexibility to pursue new opportunities that others may not be able to.
Want to explore the world? Go do it. Want to move to a new state? Go do it. Life isn’t a competition to see who can come out on top.
The only thing that matters is you do what makes you happy and fulfilled. Be confident in the choices you make and the accomplishments that reflect an equal level of success.
5. College grades.
In college, I cared way too much about my grades. And then I graduated. I’ve now been working in the real world for five years and can confidently tell you that your grades do not matter.
However, obtaining your degree does. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t try to make good grades because they are a necessary part of education.
But, our focus should be more on learning, taking in the information and finding things we are passionate about.
We’re in college to figure out the kind of mark we want to make on the world. We’re there to figure out what our motivations are.
It could be social change, innovation, helping to save lives or putting ourselves on the map in the financial world.
Whatever it is you want to do, grades don’t predict how successful you will be. Hard work, determination and putting your knowledge to good use do.
Don’t let the little things in life drive you crazy. Life is stressful enough as it is.