to be in one’s 20s is to be living in a conundrum

There’s a post I read on ThoughtCatalog that I haven’t been able to get out of my head for -literally- the past few days. It’s by Ryan O’Connell: the big pumba of TC.

The one paragraph that I had noticed has resonated with my very current life in severe and striking new ways:

It’s possible to think that you’re the best, that you’re owed great things because you’re funny, smart and went to a good college, while also totally hating yourself and wondering what the hell you’re doing all the time. This duality of self-loathing and hubris will be your major tension. It will inform and tear at most of the decisions you make.

I feel this tension constantly. Yesterday was bad for me: I felt tired, overwhelmed and underused. Today, I got 2 articles from TalentEgg published in Metro Toronto and accomplished great assignments at work. My boss gifted me some edible arrangements, for which I was so thankful I started tearing up.

What I’ve learned on my month-long stint (thus far) in corporate Canada is that if you work with people who believe in you and in your talents, you can accomplish anything. This relates strongly to my current boss, as well as to my editor at TalentEgg that has coached and guided me in so many life-defining ways.

What’s interesting is that you get to choose your influencers each day. If you choose your influencer to be your negativity, your day will inevitably turn out sour. If your influencer is greatness, your day will accomplish greatness, even in the little bits and pieces that are needed to wake up the next day and enjoy the moment of waking.

Some days, this means you wake up and the only thing you want to know intensely is the underside of your comforter and a box of popcorn. Others cause you to jump from bed as an Olympian would. These days are not hormonal; in fact, they seem to be quite natural.

I don’t feel like I know a lot about myself as a person at this point. The only thing I know is who I want to become and more-or-less what I look like (act like) in comparison to the person I want to be. This is enough of a generality to push me in the right direction, but enough of a specificity to keep me focused on one more-or-less clear path. I am a writer, I am funny (disputable fact), I am extremely hard-working. So far, so good.

And it’s because I don’t know this whole lot of solid things about myself that I keep wavering between these extremes:

  • Am I working hard enough? Or am I working too hard?
  • Have I achieved enough? Have I achieved anything important at all?
  • Do I deserve this position? Am I disgustingly under-qualified for this job?
  • What am I willing to compromise for work? What am I willing to compromise for life? What am I willing to compromise for balance?
  • What will make me happy? What do I pour my energy into?

And for me, the answer has always been (and will always be, despite my anxious nature and ridiculous worries) that I will pour energy into what I love and into good people. And if I can get closer to making a living from what I love, I will consider myself to be successful. I will consider myself to still be on the right path.

Because working everyday on something you love is an act that requires the sort of self-love that will inevitably turn you into a better version of yourself. There’s no escaping it.

-A

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