There’s no doubt that it happens to the best of us. That little voice in the back of our minds that never goes away. The times where you can go a whole day on autopilot because you are consciously concentrating on something else, normally something menial. I should have gone to gym this morning, why didn’t he text back, how come the boss doesn’t give me that project or promotion. Sometimes you go home, have a stiff G&T, take a long bath, give yourself a pep talk in the mirror and sleep it off. But sometimes these thoughts cumulate, until you’re drowning in them and the only thing that happens when you look in the mirror is tears.
Yes, it’s a depressing mental image but it’s real talk. Until now quarter life has had a few bumps but it’s mostly been amazing holidays, great new friends, witty clichés and in general making the most of 25. But at this moment, I’m not there. I’m in the crisis part of quarter life and I know I’m not the only one.
Hands up who doubts themselves on a daily basis? Left hands up.
Who doesn’t think they are good enough- ever? Right hands up.
Who’s spent a Friday night in bed because it’s easier to lay in bed self loathing then put on that dress and drink wine? Now put your whole body in and shake it all about! Sorry couldn’t help myself, had to lighten the mood and chuck in a cliché.
However the real cliché here is that people in their 20’s are too hard on ourselves. I literally write this on the verge on tears, as I shovel cheesecake into my mouth in Café Nero in the middle of Warsaw. Why am I on the verge of tears you ask? Well because this isn’t me, for the last week I’ve been battling a bipolar version of myself and it’s killing me. But it needs to be talked about because we all go through it and there’s nothing better than a bit of populated assurance from the crowd, to get us out of the rut and deplete the thoughts that we are verging on crazy psychopath.
As you will probably have seen from my previous posts, I’m on a month long Euro Trip! Finally bit the bullet and decided to do the solo backpack thing. A bit of a rough plan with certain places that I had to hit by certain dates but apart from that I only had a ticket to Madrid and a return one, a month later from Valencia. In terms of travel everything has gone smoothly. Met some lovely people, ticking stuff off the bucket list and still (touch wood) haven’t come across a dodgy hostel. I immediately got that liberated feeling that comes with solo travel but 2 weeks in I started to get tired. Self doubt crept in and the minute I reunited with my friends, I was in a comfort zone and I crashed.
When one of my closest girlfriends asked me what was wrong, while I moped around drinking vodka at 11am on a Saturday (we were going to a festival, so its acceptable), I just turned around and said that I hated myself. Yep, those exact words left my mouth and her response was “if that’s the case, you need to see someone”.
What? Me? I don’t need help. But the viscous cycle of self doubt, fuelled by long days of partying and drinking and minimal sleep would eventually reach breaking point. I left Budapest broken- sick as a dog, a negative bank balance and minus an important person in my life.
Sounds shit? Well it was, still kind of is. I arrived in Krakow and didn’t want to be there several days of messaging my best friend at home established that I screwed up but things might not be as bad as them seem. A few more days past and I was barely functioning. The anxiety was kicking into overdrive and the only thing to calm me down was sleeping.
But I can’t just sleep, I need to be a tourist. See everything, do everything, take 1000 instagram shots and eat all the food. Hence my earlier comment about the bipolar feelings over the past week!
Thankfully my best friend also studied psychology, so like always she was my saving grace. She is also wise beyond her years and what she said to me reigned true.
Firstly, she tried the tough love tactic. The get out of bed, shower, put make up on and be the person that she loved: the strong, independent, smart, brave girl who is managing to travel Europe by herself.
When that was met by a stream of negativity from me, she took a clinical approach.
She told me to write a list but only a manageable list. So at this time it was simple things like visit the Old Town of Krakow, eat a local meal and talk to one new person at the Hostel today.
Easy, I did that in like 2 hours. I made another list for tomorrow. But I managed to do a few more things that afternoon. The anxiety started to slowly ease and normality returned. I was nearly back to that carefree backpacker mode, that I have found that I thrive off.
To quote my absolute gem of a best friend “think of it as a naughty child. You don’t want to reinforce the anxiety by letting it stop you from doing things you want to”.
So the message to all my other 20 something’s out there, please note the crisis will hit, its inevitable! You can cope with it however the hell you like, be crazy (my personal fav) but don’t let it control you. I could have easily missed out on experiencing a new city, if it wasn’t that 1% of me that kept telling me to push through and that endless encouragement from my bestie. The regret of letting the quarter life crisis get the better of you will be more damning and everlasting, then any hate you throw at yourself.
Finally, when in doubt blast Jess Glynne’s “Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself”. From the moment I moved to the UK this song has been my jam…
“I came here with a broken heart, that no one else could see”- why yes, I could not have been happier to run away from Australia, after dating a doctor who I worked, ended badly (story for another time I promise!)
Then it was…
“I’m standing on top of the world, right where I want to be”- London nights, European weekends, ordering coffee in another language, Jess knows what good for you.
But most importantly….
“Don’t be so hard on yourself, no, learn to forgive, learn to let go, everyone trips, everyone falls.”
Make it your anthem!