Picture this. You’re twenty-two. You just got back from a 6-month exchange program. You’re back at your parents’ place after having lived on your own for 3 years. You have 1 miserable class you don’t care about left to finish your bachelors. It’s the ONLY structure you have to your week. You have no money. You have NO freaking idea what’s next for you.
What are you thinking?
That simple question almost solely determines how you deal with this time so full of opportunity.
Here are 7 thinking traps I fell into that were absolutely not useful to me (and my responses if I were talking to my 22 year old self). If you are in some kind of transition period, my hope is that this can help you adjust your thinking so that you can feel more aligned with your true self and feel a whole lot better!
1. Thinking “I should have it all figured out”.
I love that you’re thinking that. I feel you, you’re craving security in certainty, but the truth is: No. You don’t. Here’s why:
There’s magic in uncertainty. There’s opportunity to create. There’s opportunity to carve out YOUR path. I know how uncomfortable it is. I know it looks like everybody else has it figured out! Or if they don’t, then at least someone should! Don’t let it be you. Allow yourself to stay in the question. Stay open. Stay curious. Allow the different pieces of the puzzle to fall into place when it’s time for them to fall into place. Don’t worry about “not having a passion”. Don’t worry about the confusion. There’s magic in all of this. Sooner or later, you’ll find out what it was. Until then? Follow what you’re curious about. Figure just that tiny thing out and enjoy the adventure.
2. Thinking “I should know by now what I want to be when I grow up”.
Do you? The world has changed. People don’t really do “one thing forever” anymore. Leave this question be and listen to papa when he catches you in this question trap and tells you: “Maybe you’re asking the wrong question. Maybe you need to ask “What would I be interested enough in to do it for the next 1, MAYBE 2 years”. Best advice I/you/we (confusing time warp pronoun conundrum!) have ever gotten.
3. Thinking “My emotions are useless & working against me”.
Let me get this straight: You’re feeling like your emotions are the enemy right now? Making you depressed and weird and unpredictable and lashing out at the people you care most about? You think they should be hidden really far away when you’re around people because they’re dangerous?
I can see how you think that! They feel sort of foreign to you, right?
What if they’re trying to talk to you? Getting louder and louder to attract your attention? What if they wanted to help you? Would you be willing to listen? What might they say if you did? What might they tell you that you’re curious about? That you don’t want? That you do want?
Your emotions are trying to guide you. Let them. They are actually incredibly wise. It’s OK to be afraid. It’s OK to be angry. It’s OK to be sad. Your emotions are trying to help you move on. The fear wants to help you pay attention. The anger wants to help you rectify what’s been “unfair” and wants you to take action. The sadness wants to help you let go. Sit in the middle, like a wise moderator and listen, listen, listen. Keep listening until you’re ready to make some decisions after having heard the council of these wise ones. They might want to fight each other. They might want to You’ll feel so much better. It’s OK if it’s hard and you get lost. You, Inge, WILL need help with this and that’s OK. Ask for it. Your emotions don’t mean you’ve failed as a human being.
Also, read The Language of Emotions: What Your Feelings Are Trying to Tell You by Karla McLaren. It’ll change your life forever.
That, and do this mini-course. I traveled through time and made it just for you! ;).
4. Thinking “If I show myself as vulnerable, I’ll be rejected”.
You’re not wrong, necessarily.
Let me tell you about the times you’re vulnerable and you’re accepted. It feels like connection. It feels like support. It feels like love. Find people who can be there for you in that way, without judgment, without rejection. They’re out there. You’ll find them. Maybe the people currently in your life are dying to be there for you in that way like you’ve been for them for years. It can truly be worth the risk to be unapologetically real. You’re worthy of love. LOTS of it. (BUT) be smart about your vulnerability. Bit by bit, come out of your closet. Take tiny vulnerability risks and be honest about how it feels and how it’s received. Some people aren’t able to hear your mushiest, tenderest parts. Choose wisely.
Also, read The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown. Or watch her TED talk. Same.
5. Thinking “I’m a victim!”
So things didn’t turn out the way you expected? You expected your degree to be worth something, to entitle you to a “respectable position in society” and now you’re angry that it isn’t true? Now you don’t get what you need to do to be respected?
Yup. Life sucks sometimes. Stuff happens you don’t control. Stuff you didn’t ask for happens. Stuff happens you wish hadn’t.
AND? What do you choose? Do you choose to sit around feeling sorry for yourself? or to make the best of it and move forward?
Call yourself on your BS. Yes, shit happens. Now make the best out of it. Practice your resilience muscles. You can do this. You are (much) more powerful than you know.
6. Thinking “What gets ME excited?” isn’t a serious enough question and therefore not worth attention.
You don’t think it’s a “grown up” enough question eh? You don’t think it’ll lead anywhere “practical”? You may be right. It’s probably not going to pay your debts just yet, but how’s sitting on your ass all day “shoulding” all over yourself going for you? Maybe you can try something different? What gets you excited? curious? interested? Think of it this way: knowing what gets you excited gives you JUICE to make something of your day. It’ll give you the ability to take action (which is something you don’t have a lot of right now). Whether it’s going to lead anywhere “practical” isn’t necessarily that important right now. Get moving and adjust the course. You’ll be FINE.
7. Thinking “I’m not worthy of love”
I know you don’t consciously think this, but you’re acting like it. I’m here to hold a mirror. You’re hiding and ashamed. You’re believing a story that you’re not “good enough”. A big part of you is engaged in doing everything you can so that you can be “Liked” and “accepted” and “fit in”. It’s hurting you. It’s working against you shining your light. We need it. We need you. We need you showing up. People from all over the world are conspiring to help you shine your light. Let them. Let go of the old stories. Stop punishing yourself. And Inge? I know not all of you believes this. I see your rebellious side. I see how hard you’re working to undo the internal prison. Keep going. Keep saying “fuck it!” to your excuses. Keep listening to your intuition. Keep following your gut. It knows the way.
*Time travel complete*.
Thank you for reading. If it struck a chord with you, please share? I know I really needed to hear these things when I was transitioning out of school-life at 22. We’re all in this together.
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Oh! And this… is why I give 10% off to everyone 25 and under for all my one-on-one services.