When I was ten or eleven, my mom enrolled me in classical dance classes.
I still remember my sweet teacher and the way she taught the class. After the warm up, she would begin with a sequence of steps that started slow and picked up at the end.
You can hear the “thud” of every students feet in synchronization, except maybe mine. I prided myself on picking up dance very quickly so I would always speed up my steps just a few minutes after learning them.
If my teacher didn’t say it already, which is unlikely, I could tell you she was thinking it – “slow down Aleena.”
Slow down. 15 years later and it’s still something I’m struggling with. How many of us start running before we can walk? *Raises hand* Fast. Fast. Fast. I want it all done now. I want the answers now. I wanted life to be perfect by the time I’d be 25 (I have 6 months, where’s the fast-track option?) The perfect marriage, the perfect career, all set in place. 25 is creeping up really fast and young Aleena’s thought of having a settled life by 25 became very humorous!
“Enjoy the journey” they say. This is just one of the many solutions I read and hear all the time. What does that even mean? Okay, I know what it means, but how am I supposed to enjoy the anxiety that stems from the uncertainty of my entire life? Is there a way to opt out of this? I envision this statement being similar to someone with aviophobia flying on a plane. The plane starts swerving up and down and left and right, and throughout the heavy turbulence the pilot comes on the intercom and tells you to “enjoy the ride” while you’re about to pee in your pants.
When 2017 started, I made an attempt to bullet journal everyday. Sorry, resolution number one already broke. But one significant page I outlined was a “Fears vs. Dreams” page. You might wonder why there’s a “fear” page… It could be because I’m obsessed with the satisfying feeling of physically crossing things off a list.
But really, I figured that if I listed all my fears down, if and when it no longer existed, I’d cross it out which would essentially give me hope. It would signify “look, you overcame it.” To begin, my fears list was much longer than my dreams list and the more months that passed by in 2017, the harder I was falling. It wasn’t until my rock bottom that the dreams page stopped existing, on paper and in my head.
I can attribute this to a couple of reasons, but the point being is that fear had taken over my life and my dreams flew away because I didn’t know what I wanted anymore.
Ask me where I want to be in five years right now and I’ll tell you I have no idea. It’s not that I don’t want to be successful or ambitious or motivated or driven or passionate, I do. But 10% of going for what you want is the push to do it, 90% of it is knowing what you want, and you can’t start your journey when you’re confused about the latter. And right now, I believe that knowing what you want comes from having the answers to important questions.
There are lots of twenty-somethings out there with the answers already, I envy all of you, truly. But in a recent conversation with an acquaintance, I was reminded that many of us don’t. Let’s be honest – the twenties are hard. When I was in high school, I wanted to be in college, and when I was in college, I wanted to be in the adult world. And now that I’m an adult, I want someone take me back to kindergarten. I wish this could be an inspirational post, but it’s actually just highlighting many of the feelings that I think we all go through.
In our social media world, everyone highlights the most amazing parts of their life. I’m guilty of it just as much as the next person. This makes it so easy to overlook the fact that everyone has problems, but the reality is that everyone has a backstory behind their Instagram photos.
To focus on what to change, you have to identify the stressors. But instead of another list of what to do after you’ve hit rock bottom, I’m going to make this a post about what leads to the feeling in the first place. If anyone else is traveling on the same what-the-hell-am-I-doing-with-my-life path, follow along this post series. The truth is that this post doesn’t end with any answers on how to avoid feeling lost and I don’t know if it will anytime soon. But I want to use my outlet of writing to help me guide my thoughts into words for myself and others.
Keep that wonderful aviophobia metaphor in your brain, there’s a 100% chance I will come back to it. 😉
For now, I’ll end with this: breathe deeply, put your thoughts aside for the evening, and close your eyes.