Depressed or just in your 20's? Here's 5 ways to deal
Words: Annette Minnaar | Illustration: Lapin Blanc
You're in your 20's and all of a sudden absolutely everything in your life becomes highly questionable. It's time for you to play adult which, for some reason, means taking yourself, the prospects of your career, and your relationships way too seriously.
*Commence dramatic quarter life crisis*
A low-humming anxiety starts to form with a tune sounding similar to this:
"Is my job well suited to me? Am I making the right amount of money? Did the barista actually give me soy milk? Why is Katie from Instagram's favourite activity a trip to Mauritius, and mine spending an entire day in bed? Why am I this nervous to go to that casual braai with all my casual friends? Why am I so not chilled when all I ever seem to say is how chilled I am about everything?"
Finally, you become hyper aware of this irrational and weird state of being and then real panic sets in. The only thing your 20-something-mind is able to let go of is your confidence.
The good news?
Many 20-somethings feel this way, you will turn 30 and seeing a therapist isn't over dramatic.
So you're a little angsty and unsure of yourself, but who could blame you?
Our generation is so interconnected with oversharing perfectly filtered lives; highlighting constant socialising, numerous overseas trips, how much weight you lost plus any possible perks of your new job. You may think you see through the social media mirage, but we are all influenced to some extent. Whether you like tennis or not, we are all either seated in the crowd, or playing the 'Let's compare' match. Watching as the ball goes back and forth, slamming 'achievements' of success, wealth, marriage, babies, fulfilment and you-name-it at one another.
Furthermore, the self-inflicted pressures we place on ourselves are insurmountable because we really don't know what the future holds. And that is scary. It feels like every decision is massive because it is the starting point to the rest of our lives and we don't want to set off in the wrong direction. You may think that settling down is boring, but it brings a lot of security and mental comfort. In your 20s there is still a lot of change on the horizon. Your line of career will probably change, perhaps your friend groups as well and most likely the person you thought you were.
*Panic at your life's disco*
There are many hurdles to jump, or fall over, when entering adulthood. Finance doodly-doo, parents taking off their superhero capes and revealing their 'we are just human too' sides, trying to succeed in your career or finding 'the one'. The list goes on.
So how do you deal?
Advice from one bluesy 20-something to another:
*And then post about it and apologise to your followers for being "quiet"*. In all seriousness, a hiatus from the filtered life will stop you from escaping your own reality and make time for some introspection. Nothing you do will be validated by likes and you won't be lusting after anyone else's highly curated reality.
Studies on Centenarians, individuals who live to 100+, show you can dodge ageing to death with loads of mingling. You may not want to spend time with people when you are feeling your existential angst, but it will really help. Ensure that your social interactions are positive and uplifting. I.e. Don't hang with people who are draining doing activities that you don't actually enjoy (Seems obvious, yet you still find yourself at ((insert trendy bar)), unable to hear what the random across from the table is shouting at you).
Endorphins are real and don't require you to even leave your flat or put on shoes. Whether you follow Instagram workouts in the comfort of your room, or listen to embarrassing music while taking a walk outside – any bit of exercise is great (I would however recommend getting outside because nature).
You had a rocky relationship with your parents when you were a teen and now you can't stop Whatsapping them memes – it's the best! Make the most of this, now chilled, relationship and spend time at your home-base that includes comfort, revelations of advice, a safe space to cry and people who truly care about you. If what I have described is not applicable to you, then be sure to spend time with the friends who are your family.
Yes, it is the absolute worst when people tell you to "just not stress so much" or "not worry", but for some reason, the 20-something-brain tends to be a little dramatic and a little irrational.
Eventually your 20s will end and you will laugh at the mess you were and hopefully be thankful for the growing curve life blasted at you. For now though – you are not alone.