The rollercoaster of your early twenties

When I turned twenty, I was very happy to leave my teenage years behind. Puberty had felt like a long, frustrating, and exhausting battle. It is not easy being half- or fully grown up without having the actual rights and power of an adult. As a teenager, I had felt trapped in a world of helplessness, hormones, and chaos – and I wasn’t even your typical storm-out-of-the-room-and-slam-the-door kind of teenager.

However, as I am approaching my 22nd birthday, I can tell from experience that the early years of your twenties are not exactly a funfair either. If you think you were done with all the drama, think again. Your twenties are a whole different rollercoaster ride, with new highs and new lows.

As you enter your twenties, you will find that you are quickly gaining more responsibility in life, while at the same time losing structure. No longer will there be someone to tell you what to do and how to do it. If you don’t feel like getting food, there will be no food. If you need an appointment with the doctor, you are going to have to make the phone call yourself.

I think we have all at times wished there was a guide that would tell you how to go about life. Growing up post-puberty involves a lot of frustration. Sometimes I want to stamp my feet, throw a tantrum, give up, and have someone else take over to deal with things. Learning how to take good care of yourself is a huge challenge, but an inevitable and crucial process.

In this blog post, I would like to share with you a few things to bear in mind while you’re on the rollercoaster ride of your twenties.

Everyone goes through life at a different pace

When I asked my sister, who is now 26, if she had any tips for my early twenties, I was surprised that she answered “yes, don’t plan anything, because I thought I would be married and have kids by now, but none of that worked out”. This was interesting to me, because I sincerely don’t have any plans, or even a vague idea of where my life should go.

I’ve seen many peers grow frustrated over this, but you must understand that everyone is going to be at different stages in their lives. I would say that usually this starts from about sixteen onward, as people start to make their own career and education choices, and we gradually go our separate ways.

This means that there is no longer a wrong or right way to do something. There is no use in comparing yourself to others – everyone’s doing their own thing. Some have already bought a house, are married, have children. Others are just starting uni, or chose to get a job, or are world-famous for their talents.

It is not fair to you or to others to try and draw these impossible comparisons. In fact, as someone who has occasionally been admired for ‘how she does things’, I can find it quite hurtful. I am not ‘acing’ adulthood. As difficult it might be for you to see that I, too, struggle, you must not neglect that life doesn’t come easy to me either. Though some of us might look like we’re doing really well, and we are experienced highly functioning adults, you must bear in mind that this isn’t always a choice. A lot of people are thrown into adulthood way too early, and even if they look like they’re doing alright, they may not feel like they are.

You are not alone

This is not to say that your problems don’t matter, but rather to remind you that you do not have to go through this process alone. If you feel like maybe you are ‘not normal’, don’t worry. Millions of us go through depression, anxiety, and a whole bunch of other things. Though these can feel like very strange and horrifying issues, there is medical evidence proving that these are real, serious, and even common conditions – which brings me to my next point.

Talk about it

You can easily feel estranged, isolated, and alone when dealing with these issues, especially because they feel so personal. There are plenty of people who will understand what you are going through, though.

You do not need to tweet, vlog, or tell everyone you meet about your problems. But sharing with just one person can already be such a huge lift off your shoulders. It will help to let someone know that you’re going through a few things, even if it’s just so they’re aware something is up and you’re feeling a bit more fragile. Besides, talking about it can help you realise that you do not have to go through this alone.

Find help

As soon as you notice that you are having problems, let the university know. I think we all have a tendency to see how things go, but it is much better to take preventive measures and to be safe, than having to fix things afterwards.

There are a whole lot of people and organisations out there which specialise in mental healthcare. Make use of these services, because that’s what they’re there for. Here is a list of supporting services in Sheffield and within the university that I know of:

Services in Sheffield

Sheffield IAPT

Sheffield Samaritans

Services with the university

University Counselling Service

University Health Service

Student Advice Centre

Careers Service 

Please also make sure to contact your department, i.e. a tutor or other person, if you are struggling.

Distract yourself

What I like to do in times of trouble, is heavily distract myself. This does not always have to mean that you are running from your problems. Even if you just take 30 minutes of your day to do something completely else, this can help you relieve stress. The only challenge is in finding what helps you relax. Here’s a video I made on what helps me when things aren’t always right.

(Note: please make sure that you choose a safe and healthy activity. On a totally unrelated note, I have injured myself multiple times while having extreme stress-relief dance sessions in my room.)

Last but not least, here’s a bunch of songs that might help you express yourself and/or have an amazing time lip-syncing. Have fun!

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