The 8 Words every 20-Something dreads hearing

You’re out in public and bump into an old acquaintance you haven’t seen in a while. You do the usual spiel about how nice it is to see them and after that initial wave of excitement finally wears off, you feel it. They’re looking for a conversation starter and of course they’re going to hit you with your least favourite question. And right on schedule, there it is; 

“So what have you been doing with yourself?”

Here we go again. I don’t know what it is about this question that causes me to have an existential crisis every time its asked, but there’s something about suddenly being put on the spot to try and justify what you’ve been doing with your life since high school that makes me want to curl up into a ball and cry. Especially, if you’re like me and did the whole ‘going to uni’ thing only to end up in the exact same spot you were beforehand.

Without the ignorant bliss of being an undergrad with the “I’m studying” excuse to give the illusion that you’re at least trying to successfully adult, you’re left to make excuses for yourself about how you’re just “comfortable” at your current job and that it’s only “temporary” until you find something you can make a career out of. It’s easy to be in this situation and look at how well others around you are doing and feel inadequate or as if you’ve fallen behind. But the actual reality of the situation is that adulting is actually really hard.

Growing up, I always envisioned my pathway in life being very structured and I had a short timeline in which I hoped to achieve everything I wanted to do. I’d graduate from university, get myself a job then settle down and raise a family by the time I was in my late twenties/ early thirties.

For the most part, I’d stuck to my plan. I went straight from high school into a three year degree studying something that I thought I was passionate about at the time. I found out the hard way that uni life is more than just free food, alcohol-fuelled social events and no one to force you to attend your lectures. It’s actually really difficult and at times, overwhelming. I was left to bullshit my way through essays on topics I hadn’t properly studied (P’s get degrees ✌🏼), fix the mess I’d created by procrastinating literally every uni-related task I had to do, and learn just what the hell APA referencing was and why I’d never heard of it before now.

Even though by some miracle, I survived three years of emotional breakdowns to graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree, I was now left with a very expensive piece of paper and a burning question in the back of my mind: “Now what do I do?”

Fast forward to today and it’s been almost two years since I graduated and I still have no idea what’s next. Sometimes I find myself imagining what life would’ve been like if I’d chosen a different degree or applied myself more at uni instead of coasting by.

In hindsight, I could’ve done a lot of things with my life/degree and maybe it would’ve made me happier, but there’s also a chance that I’d be miserable too. Life is unpredictable and always changing, and rather than dwelling on what could’ve been, I’m slowly learning to understand that things are not always going to play out the way you’d imagined in your head.

The beauty of meeting so many diverse people in life is that they teach you that there’s no need to adhere to a timeline or compare yourself to others to see how you’re doing. As long as you’re happy at the end of the day, that’s all that matters right?










15 thoughts on “The 8 Words every 20-Something dreads hearing

  1. I feel the same way when people ask me what I do. I’m an author, speaker and consultant and some people don’t get what that means. They usually ask if I work from home and when I say yes they look at me like I don’t have a job at all. I usually just end up feeling sorry for them stuck in their unfulfilled jobs.

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  2. I love your take on this! I agree that adulting can be really hard sometimes. Some parts of my life have been a surprise and didn’t actually turn out how I’d envisioned. I had to quit my teaching job due to chronic illness. But, then I discovered blogging and I absolutely love it and love my readers. I’ve found that I’m in the place I am for a reason.

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  3. I definitely think that at the end of the day as long as you are happy, that is all that matters. LIfe rarely goes the way you think it will and even if your path is different than you imagined, it’s not a bad thing.


  4. That is absolutely right! I think growing up, we all have that life plan in our head…I’ll be doing “this” at this age, “that” at that age….and it never ever works out that way! It’s hard to know what exactly to do with our lives, but I’m a true believer that everything happens for a reason and will all work out.

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  5. How am I doin’? Freakin’ awesome! I just finished up my Master’s degree while attending night school and my boss just promoted me in my job in the field my degree is in. My other car is a Yacht and next month my 1st published book will appear in the stores. How YOU doin’?

    I’m deliberately exaggerating. But that’s just the point! It’s because we’d *like* to be able to truthfully say like that, and blow them away with out accomplishments—but we can’t, because we haven’t really attained *that* high yet. Let’s look at it another way, Given what I just said, it’s because *we* don’t feel successful enough. But wait! C’mon, it’s not like you’re 40 and still working at Walmart.

    Look at all of the other students who did graduate high school (the first time) that, at 25, still do not have a Bachelor’s degree. There are lots of them. See? You should be feeling better already.

    Could it be that, you majored in whatever, got a degree in it, but now can’t find a job in it? Is that it?
    or, have you lost interest in what you majored in?

    What to do now:
    Possibilities—1. Get a job in the field you majored in.
    2. Get any full-time job.
    I would do that first. You’ll feel better if you any money “coming in”.
    But what if you are already at that point?
    Then….I’m speculating….is it because there are others your age or within one year that seem “ahead” of you?…i.e….they are already married and maybe you are not (yet)? Is that bugging you?
    Or, do “they” have their first house and you don’t, yet?
    I don’t know, but I could see these as possible ways you might not feel you are “measuring up” by comparison.

    And isn’t that the real source and reason why we dread those dreaded eight words? Its all about:
    How we “look”
    How we are, or aren’t “measuring up”.
    So….what to do? My recommendation: Instead of looking at so mush as a “horse-race”, feel more confident that you are–tangibly–“moving in the positive direction towards my (your) priorities and goals!”
    What do I need first?
    And second, and third? And why do I want those things? And what would help me get there? How can I use what I’ve done so far, to advance me further?
    Keep on pressing on! 🙂


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