By Maddie Burlin
Let’s play a game: two truths and a lie. Ready?
- I cry once a week.
- I sometimes feel lonely (even when I am surrounded by people).
- Contrary to popular belief, being in my early twenties often feels like wading through a giant confusing mess of uncertainty.
Okay now it’s your turn to guess – which statement is a truth and which two are lies?
I lied. I don’t cry once a week. It’s more like 3-6 times a week, if not more.
Although I have people in my life that I love and I am young and healthy and grateful and fortunate… I often feel lost. I often wonder where I belong. I often wonder what I’m meant to be doing, or if anything I am doing is taking me anywhere. I often feel uncertain about how I am proceeding with my life.
Almost daily, I question decisions and ponder career directions. It sounds dramatic (I know), but I sometimes I feel like I undergo a bi-weekly identity crisis: needing to please people, wanting to be liked, accepted, admired – overexerting myself and stretching and reaching and scurrying around being everything I thought everyone wanted me to be, and in many ways (really) saying:
“No thanks! I’d rather not deal with the uncomfortable and instead I will distract and fill myself with everything else but the emotion I am avoiding!”
I recently sat down with Erin Treloar, the founder RAW Beauty Talks, and I interviewed her for a feature article I am writing for a school project. As they often do, the interview flowed over into a conversation about life (complimented by a healthy glass of Merlot in Treloar’s living room).
We talked a lot about pressure, and I shared some of my experiences with her. I told her how I feel like my twenties are supposed to be the days of fearless discovery, bonding friendships, ultimate physical well being, jam packed road trips and wild social weekends and music festivals and backpacking trips through Asia and great style and endless adventure (phew!).
And maybe my life has a few of those components. But what often goes on under the radar are all the messy and confusing parts of being a twenty-something.
The constant montage of beautiful young people living the most exciting and adventurous lives with their equally beautiful and carefree friends on Instagram makes me think I am the only one crying 3-6 times a week.
At almost twenty-three years old, I’ve been in university for nearly four years, lived in five different cities and three different countries in the last five years, and despite a long road of self-discovery and adventure, most days I feel absolutely lost.
I’m doing the work: inquiring about myself, learning self-care and other healthy behaviors. And slowly I am learning to differentiate myself as a human being from the stories I tell about myself. You know the ones: the stories that come from all the shoulds and comparisons.
I am also learning that I am not my joy or pain or indecision, I just experience them. They happen through me, but they are not me. I have to remind myself daily that I am not defined by story, and that I have the power to choose.
During our chat, Erin and I came up with a list of ten of our go-to tools that help us to come back to what is important. Stay tuned. xo
Maddie is a Professional Communications student at Royal Roads University in Victoria. She previously studied English Literature at Acadia University, where she developed an academic writing style and pursued creative writing outlets both inside and outside of school. In creative writing, she loves getting curious about human connection, learning to love and respect ourselves, and digging deep around the things that hold us back. @madeleineburlin on Twitter
Great article – I think it really speaks to a lot of us in our 20s and more people need to talk about it. I just wish your piece was longer! I look forward to reading more on this..
Maddie, wow can we talk about how this article was SPOT ON?! I”m 22 years old, a recent graduate, currently living outside of my native country, and very recently I had a conversation with a very good friend of mine explaining how all three aspects of your “2 truths and a lie” (but most definitely all truths) have been apparent the last few weeks for me. It’s so hard being “young” but carrying the expectations of an “adult”. Thank you so much for this post–it was incredibly relatable. It’s so nice to know that there’s so many others experiencing this journey as well. Good luck on your future endeavors, and I hope each year in your 20’s only gets better!