Take yourself back to middle school. You’re awkward, unsure and uncomfortable in your own skin. Maybe you had braces, bangs, an overbite, or acne.
Your parents sat down with you and had a conversation reassuring you that you wouldn’t always feel this pressure to constantly fit in, and that things get better. They told you that now is the time where you’re coming into your own and figuring out who you are and all those raging hormones can make things very complicated.
You probably found yourself wandering between classes wondering where you’d end up and excited that life would one day be bigger than the walls of your educational institution and now, as you enter adulthood, you know that life is certainly bigger than middle school.
But one thing that hasn’t changed for many of us recent post-graduates is the fact that we still don’t know who we are.
You have just completed college and already started a first job, yet you find yourself still treading water in a whirlpool of identities when you thought at this point in time you’d be swimming laps in the Olympic pool.
Our once raging hormones are most likely tame, but have now been replaced with racing thoughts and raging doubts.
What used to be comparing your growing body to your peers’ in the gym locker room has shifted to us flocking to social media to find reassurance in our decisions, only to find that with every scroll, double tap and refresh, we feel worse.
“Should I be doing something else?” You wonder. Did you make a mistake not taking the GRE? Was majoring in political science the best option for you? Should you have saved up more before moving out?
The infinite ways you could think about the what ifs, the could ofs and should ofs are enough to drive you insane. In fact, you may actually think you are already at that point.
Upon graduation, many of you may have had yourselves figured out and maybe you really do. Well, good for you because you’re the exception and the rest us are the rule.
Many of us now find ourselves endlessly scouring the job boards, reading description after description and thinking, “This is a great fit!” Until you keep scrolling just a little further, and find yourself wondering if you could actually see yourself doing it full time.
You begin to wonder if your career goals from the beginning of college still hold true for you now and replay the mistakes you made in your most recent interview. Many of your resumes are answered with silence and you begin to question if you’ll ever end up at the job of your dreams. You’re finding that answering the question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Is tough because you honestly have no idea.
The disheartening feeling is similar to when you first start developing a chest and think you’re ready to move up a bra size, only to realize that you’re still very much a 32AA, but you know what? It’s O.K.
It’s alright to admit that developing yourself takes time and that your initial idea of who you are may change 1,000 times before you get it just right. You didn’t just wake up one day and have round hips or a deeper voice did you? No, so why should this chapter of your life prove to be different?
As an adolescent, every day you grew a little taller, your face got a little thinner, your body, unfortunately hairier. The thing is that you didn’t necessarily see it happening.
It just happened and that is how I presume you come into your own and figure out what you truly want.
Each day you age you’ll have less doubts, a better idea of what interests you and stronger intuition about how to get yourself to the place you want to be.
Have you ever looked back at old pictures of your awkward, lanky self and laughed? You probably have and you laugh because you remember all the very absurd worries you had at that point in time.
You worried you’d be the last girl to get her period, or embarrassed to be the only boy whose voice hadn’t gotten deeper, and you think how silly those worries were because everything turned out just fine.
You were having those ridiculous thoughts 10+ years ago and I bet almost anything that in 10 years time you will look back at a picture of your newly graduated self and think two things: 1. Why was I wearing that? 2. I can’t believe I spent so much time worrying.
So you graduate college and your parents sit you down and tell you that things won’t always be this hard. You don’t have to feel this constant pressure to fit in because social media is a choice and you can avoid comparing and contrasting if you’d like.
They’ll tell you that everything works out and that you’ll come into your own but it can take some time. The only thing making it harder is all those raging doubts. The major difference here is that in middle school we could not control our hormone levels, but in our present situation, we can control our doubts.
Replace the doubts with words of encouragement. If you can make it through puberty, you can make it through anything.