“You are not broken; you are just responding quite logically to a broken world. It’s not your fault – but it is your responsibility to heal, because you deserve to have joy and freedom in this one wild and precious life you were given – in this particular fucked up world you’ve got to live in.” – Glennon Doyle, We Can Do Hard Things Podcast Ep. 30
A common theme I’ve noticed amongst my loved ones, 20-somethings, and students, is the mentality of feeling guilty for not knowing “what’s next.” Being forced to a halt for over a year and a half granted many of us an abundance of uncomfortable time with ourselves that we haven’t been used to.
Throughout this incredibly uncomfortable, intense period that is the pandemic, I can I say I’ve felt tremendous guilt around the struggle of diving right back into life again. Some days, I just want to wake up, make sure I eat, drink water, and take care of myself – and let that be enough. And some days, that alone can take up more energy than expected.
It’s hard to feel like existing solely as a functioning human being is enough when there is so much emphasis on “the grind,” and “hustle culture.” We’re so used to defining ourselves by our jobs, our careers, work ethics, etc, that it can feel difficult to find that balance between work and life. Now, this isn’t to say that our jobs and careers aren’t important; we need to provide for ourselves and our basic needs, and if there’s passion behind our careers, this can contribute greatly to the quality of our lives. The issue arises when there is a severe lack of balance between work and life.
Earlier this year, Simone Biles announced that she needed to take time to herself in order to properly care for her mental health:
“At the end of the day, we’re not just athletes or entertainment. We’re human too and we have emotions and feelings and things that we’re working through behind the scenes that we don’t tell you guys about. And so, I just think it’s something that people should be more aware of.”
Biles opened various gateways of discussion for mental health by choosing to prioritize her own. Despite the high levels of criticism, she knew the truth in her decision, and sparked a conversation that many of us needed to hear.
Though I wish I could give you the answers on how to abandon those daunting feelings surrounding hustle culture and the “what’s next” complex, I’m still currently figuring it out myself – and I think we all are. What I can tell you is that you are not wasting your 20’s if you’re taking more time to yourself. You are not doing anything wrong if you took a day (or many) to solely exist as a human. You are not lazy for not overworking yourself. And you are most certainly not a failure for not knowing “what’s next.” To be honest, I don’t think we’re supposed to know. I think we’re responsible for what we have control over right now; taking care of ourselves, listening to our needs, maintaining healthy friendships/connections, and going from there when we’re ready.