Being in your twenties is a lot like being a teenager again. You have a bunch of new stuff happening, you have to make new friends, you lose some old friends, and you don’t really know what the hell you’re doing. You have a new opportunity to redefine yourself and decide what you want to do with your life. You feel as though you have the world at your fingertips. You feel as though you’re chained to the past, to financial obligations, to “adult responsibilities.” And you feel as though you’re the only one who doesn’t have their shit together.
In trying to come up with a way to define myself, I’ve come up with a list of things that I consistently remind myself do not define me:
- My job. Simply put, I hate it. It’s not what I want to be doing with my life, and I feel like I’m wasting my time and my degree. Not to mention, I really don’t make enough money to live comfortably on my own. But that doesn’t mean that a Legal Assistant is who I am.
- Where I live. Yes, for the moment, I live with my parents. I get crap for it because it supposedly makes me a “typical millennial.” But hey, it’s allowed me to save 50% or more of my paychecks so that I have a decent down payment, or nest egg if something goes awry.
- My debt. I feel anxious at the thought of how much debt I have due to my education. Which makes me feel guilty for not fully utilizing my degree, which makes me loathe my job even more, and it turns into a vicious cycle of self-loathing and negativity. Unless something drastically changes, I will be paying off my student loans for the rest of my life. That’s just how it is, but that also, does not define who I am or who I can become.
- My salary. I am not typically someone who is motivated by money. I didn’t want to be a lawyer because of the amount of money they make, (because believe me, DAs really don’t make enough). And I clearly don’t want to be a writer because of the money they make (or don’t.) So as much as I hate my job, I don’t want to leave it, and risk going to another dead-end job I’ll hate just as much simply because I might make a little bit more money per month. That’s just not for me.
- The number of Facebook friends, followers, or other useless numbers we measure ourselves by. That means nothing to me. It shouldn’t mean something to you either.
- What I wear/My appearance. This is more of a rant in response to office harrassment regarding the type of shoe I was wearing. You can’t judge me based on my shoes. You just can’t. I’ve been called names since I was in 6th grade because of the types of shoes I wear and I’m about done with it. Further, my weight and/or eating habits are none of your concern. Don’t ask me if people question my eating habits or if I can ever find clothes that fit. I will work or not work on my body the way I see fit, and unless I ask for your help, don’t give it to me.
None of these things define me. And I hope you know that they shouldn’t define you either. Only you can determine what it is that define you. So take a step back every now and then and try to see yourself through the eyes of those around you. Do you like what they see? Would your 7-year old self be proud of who you have become? And then look in the mirror, how do you see yourself? Are you proud of you have become?