You’re in your 20’s. You have survived your teenage years and now you’re at the age where you always thought things would finally click for you. Finally, right? But as you look around, nothing has really panned out the way you had hoped it would. Nothing feels all that familiar. You notice how happy most of your friends are as they chatter about their new relationships or engagements. Or maybe you’re the friend who spends hours on end listening to girlfriends who have just ended an important relationship. You are either single and wondering why or dating someone and wondering why, or perhaps you have found the person you want to marry but there is still something inside of you that just does not sit like you always thought or dreamt it would. Maybe you just don’t feel as “happy” as you think you should or maybe you know exactly why you feel the way you do, but haven’t been able to see around it or somehow integrate it into your life. Life feels messy and increasingly unsettling.
Welcome to your 20’s. This is a time of hurry-up-but-wait-slow-down, littered with expectations that you *should be* here or *should be* there. You ought to be headed down this path or – no wait, THAT path, but don’t screw this up because it will affect the rest of your life… and you end up at the end of each day feeling a bit off. Or a lot off. Before you know it you’re feeling agitated, irritable, nervous, like you don’t want to go out anymore, worried, tense (tight shoulders, anyone?), you have trouble focusing or concentrating, or your sleep is getting messed up. If any of this sounds like you, you may be like 40 million other people who suffer from a form of anxiety.
Anxiety can be the result of a couple different things. The first potential source comes from not living your life in a way that is meaningful to you. For example, you may know deep down you want to create something or in some way serve a bigger purpose but you find yourself working day in and day out in a highly unsatisfying job. Or another example is that you know you long for meaningful relationships but your friend group feels superficial and petty. Both of these can cause a feeling of being unsettled because you are not living your life from your value system – you’re not honoring what truly drives or motivates you. If you have enough areas of your life where you are not living according to what truly matters to you, before you know it, you can suffer from full blown anxiety. By thoroughly diving into and revealing your core values it will become clear to you what needs to shift in your life in order to bring about a greater sense of peace and intention. Knowing your values also help you navigate difficult circumstances and relationships, make major decisions and live with a sense of purpose and meaning – none of which are things you learned in school.
The second potential source of anxiety comes from living in fear and uncertainty. Fear of the future, fear of not having control, fear of the unknown, fear of what others may think or feel, or experiencing an overall sense of not being able to count on something to be true or to remain the same. This can threaten our very sense of security and can be enough to keep us up at night, or in a not-so-great job, stuck in a destructive relationship, or wherever else you may find yourself that just doesn’t feel right but you don’t know what else to do. Addressing expectations, assumptions or some of the unspoken rules you have agreed to live by are all ways to help unhook yourself from fear-based anxiety. By bringing light to what is mostly unspoken or unaddressed is a powerful way to alleviate the anxiety produced by swarming thoughts and fears.
The bottom line is that your 20’s do not have to be a time of anxiety. Your 20’s do not have to be marked by a constant state of questioning and re-questioning, positioning and re-positioning, comparing yourself and then settling, all under an umbrella of sleepless nights. This can truly be a time in your life where things fall together in a way that resonates; where your vision becomes clear and your relationships genuine and reflective of who you really are. This is the time to truly become authentic so that you set yourself – and your future up for “success”, based on whatever that means to YOU. This can be a time where you cultivate certainty and walk in confidence. Not confident that life will be perfect and that everything will go according to your plan, but confident that no matter what happens you are equipped with what you know is truly important and you’ll strive to live from honesty and integrity every step of the way. And if you are a believer, this can also be the perfect time to strengthen your faith and truly experience what it means for you to walk with Christ through some of the most critical times of your life.
I would be honored to be the coach and counselor who walks with you through any anxiety you may be facing in your life right not. But if it is not me, find someone. There are so many great therapists right here in our Emery office as well as throughout Northern Colorado. Don’t settle for living a life unsettled. Take the first step and reach out to someone today!
~ Sara Hunter