Are you filled with jealousy and resentment when your friend broadcasts their promotion on Facebook? Did you fake-smile your way through your birthday celebrations because you’re not where you thought you’d be by 26? If you’re in your twenties you might be having a quarter life crisis.
While your parents may scoff at the idea, it is a real thing, and we can offer some practical advice on how to cope. Firstly…
Don’t listen to your parents
The trouble with the people you love is that they are fuelled by a powerful instinct to protect. This can either be a destructive source of self-doubt or can inspire misplaced confidence. Either way listening to those you love could harm your career. They don’t want to see you fail, but they need to let you fall off the bike before you can ride off into the sunset. If you want to tow icebergs for a living you have to follow that fascination and see where it leads. The important thing is that you learn from it all.
Which brings us to our next tip…
Don’t fear failure
Failure is great. No really it is! The most successful entrepreneurs worship failure. Ariana Huffington’s mother repeated to her that ‘failure is not the opposite of success, it’s a stepping stone to success’. JK Rowling stressed that failure strips away the inessential and forces you to be present and focus on your strengths. Taking the time to understand yourself is the best investment you can make and will set you on the right path.
Stop comparing your behind the scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel
The fact that your friend has snagged their ‘dream job’ should not be a source of woe, but inspiration. Things are not always what they seem. Your friend might actually hate their job but are too afraid to admit it. Don’t fall prey to Obsessive Comparison Disorder. Social media is making it harder not to look at everyone around you and lose yourself in self-pity.
You may feel like you are not progressing fast enough but you will get there in the end. Your career will not be linear. When Steve Jobs dropped in on a typography class in college he didn’t know how integral it would be to Apple’s success years later.
Staying within your comfort zone will never bring you happiness. Don’t limit yourself to your existing skill set. Learn something new as often as you can. You have more than one talent – explore them and expand your horizons. The more versatile you are, the more likely you are to find the right path in life. Own your career by talking to your manager about your career interests and goals. If your job makes you feel like you’re going nowhere then change something.
Stop expecting too much from your career too quickly. Complaining to everyone in your life about how undervalued you feel and how you ‘wasted four years of college for this’ is not the best approach. Follow your interests, live outside your comfort zone and remember that failures at this stage of your life aren’t the end of the world. They’re just the beginning.