Recently I’ve run across a number of people in early careers who are facing new life challenges. This may be a new college graduate finding himself in a new city and career, an early career professional in the first 5 years in it. And for some, they completed a degree and are working in a field they now realize they really do not enjoy. The 20’s can be tough years – as much as college was new, it was still familiar in that it was a school environment. Now there are no ready-made boundaries of schedules, people, beginnings, and endings. Perhaps you’re that age, have an adult child who is going through it, or know someone else who is. Let’s take a look at it and see what each of us can learn about not only the age group, but also find something as a take away point for your own life. I ran across the above quote but I really like it as it summarizes the feelings I hear from those of you in your 20’s, and I recall feeling this way as well in my 20’s. Relationships are changing--whether married, engaged, or single--the depth and breadth of what they are is maturing and new. Playing a game of Frisbee in the college quad is not part of the day, and you can’t just make a plan with someone down the hall in the dorm. It is also important to find the time for a volleyball game or game of Apples to Apples with friends – it now takes planning, however. But the GOAL – not the present feeling – is indeed to learn to be loyal, consistent, and stable in one’s life. Note that it is the GOAL! ☺ I looked through a couple of blogs before writing this to see what others were saying about life after graduation from college. And these were some of the feelings and ideas expressed:
- Social life has changed – both in what you do and figuring out with whom and how to do it.
- Life is no longer scheduled by the semester – something you know, but have never lived before. How long is this job -forever??
- Your friends are no longer nearby in many cases – and you miss the friends you used to hang with, let alone the bestie who was always there in a difficult time.
- School provided the context for friendships – how DO you meet new friends your age if you don’t just go to the bar?
- The goals are no longer part of the ebb and flow of life – each semester defined them as well as what a parent wanted (get a job) or you had as an end goal (a diploma).
- You’re feeling proud of yourself and what you’ve accomplished so far – you got the job, you have someplace to live – but you really miss the routine of ongoing school years.
- Family and parents are people you now miss, if you’ve moved; and you find yourself strangely alone and lonely without them.
- Find or set a goal – to learn a new hobby, finish the next project at work, identify the promotion you could get at work and what you need to do for it and write out the 3 things you need to do in the next 3 months toward that, get a dog and learn to train it. The goals were inherent in your life before. Now you have to work to identify them.
- Volunteer – go hand out water to the homeless, fill foodbank boxes, volunteer to teach a Sunday School or volunteer for Young Life or Lifeteen. You’ll feel better reaching out – and it will keep balance.
- Find an exercise class or hiking group – and go! ☺
- Join a: professional group, alumni group, sorority or fraternity group near you. These often have meetings in larger cities – or you could offer to start one.
- Eat, sleep, and exercise regularly and well. Ok, so you have crazy hours – figure out how to get the nutrition in and still deal with the business trips. Or sleep 7-9 hours, and then get up! Sunshine is a great healer.
- Find a faith community – it can be a meditation group, church in the faith you have had, nature hiking that brings you into connection with a greater being, chanting group, or something else. Maintaining and growing spiritually will help you in the rough patches. Unsure of what you believe? Find a spiritual director or mentor.
- Call your old bestie – she’ll still be there. It’s reworking how you experience the relationship. When one of you marry your friendship will be different. Be patient, work it through with her. It does take a lot of work to build AND maintain relationships. But it is worth it in the end.
- Don’t worry if you don’t find the person of your life right away. Perhaps it will take time to marry, the average age for marriage is increasing to 24 for women and 30 for men. You’re far from alone.