How I learned to stop holding myself back, and started traveling the world.

The Five Stages

“I am stuck.”  “Stagnant.”  “Bored.”  “Directionless.”
“I am afraid of settling.”
I cannot tell you how many other recent graduates, co-workers, and friends I have spoken to who have use these words to describe themselves and their current careers.  They are talented, young, and have an explosive variety of personalities, yet many of us Millennials (myself included) find ourselves greatly unsatisfied with our lives.
Hint: This sucks.
With college costs rising 583% since 1983, and 70% of high school graduates going on to college (which is up to 20% more than our parents’ generation), it hasn’t been easy.  Absurdly high debt upon graduation and far more competition coupled with the Baby Boomer and Gen X employers’ already negative opinion of Millennials has for a very discouraging job market today.
 All of these things—the criticism, the poverty, the self-loathing, the fear of settling—are like a constant swarm of furious bees.  Asking me “what are you doing with your life” is like kicking the hive.
How I feel in a room full of Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers.
Let me make it very clear that I do not blame the Baby Boomers, Gen X’ers, or even fellow Millennials for any of the failures I’ve had over the last few years.  Making the transition from a dependent child to an independent adult is a tough one, and there is no straightforward formula for doing so.  There will always be a plethora of advice begin thrown at you, but sometimes you need to shut out the outside voices and have a real heart-to-heart with yourself in order to get anywhere.
I most certainly, without a doubt, went through the classic “Five Stages of Grief” you always here therapists and psychologists mentioning.  I moved back home and wasn’t very social, and was constantly coming up with reasons I wasn’t motivated to apply for jobs (denial & isolation).  I then became incredibly agitated whenever the subject was brought up (anger) before moving on to a negative spiral of “could have”s, “would have”s, and “should have”s (bargaining & depression).
But instead of sitting here and getting metaphorically stung for another two years, I am taking the plunge.  I’m diving into the biggest, clearest, and freshest lake I can think of.  I am packing up everything I own, selling my car, and strapping on a backpack.  I am buying a one-way ticket and am going to see as much of the world as I can.  I have no solid plan, no deadline, and no expectations.  It’s a little bit selfish, yes, but this is the first time in several years that I can confidently say that I am happy.
Disclaimer: yes, it’s still scary.  And awkward.
I am motivated.  I have passion again.  I have two incredibly loving and supportive parents who have never wanted anything more than for me to be happy, and I feel as though i have finally reached that point.  It took hitting rock bottom over the course of the last two years to get me here, but I am here.
I look forward to sharing my journey over the next few years with the rest of the world, and hope others struggling with similar problems will find themselves inspired.  Don’t settle.  Find something you love and turn it into a career.  You’d be very surprised how far a little research and motivation can take you.

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