This week, Ruth Croft explores how to bounce back from the changes in adulthood that we all experience.
There is nothing quite so daunting as lying in bed, staring up at the ceiling, and realising that you have no idea what you’re doing with your life. It is a feeling that is especially lonely. You feel trapped in your own thoughts, paralysed by what you think you want. Sometimes, you can even see it right in front of you, like a light in a sea of darkness, and yet you cannot quite figure out how to get there. That’s perhaps the biggest problem. It’s getting there that is so hard.
Even as you lie there in sweltering sheets, heart pounding and feeling more isolated than ever, there is a part of you that realises this is a universal thing. Everyone feels like this sometimes. Every single person in the entire world has felt overwhelmed by their future and potential, wondering where they will be in five years, what they will have achieved, or who they will have met.
Of course, there really is no way to tell. The only way to move on is to keep going; to see where the world takes you. However, that takes time, and when we’re in a vulnerable state, all we really need is something immediate to ease our minds. So, here are some ways that we can re-establish ourselves after a big change or an upheaval in life.
RELATIONSHIP SHIFTS AND GRIEF
Our twenties and thirties are a time where huge changes happen recurrently. One of the most common instances of this are relationship shifts. Some people meet their partner early on. The next thing you know, there’s wedding bells and you’re throwing ivory and rose confetti. The bride tosses the bouquet into the crowd, hands reach out, desperate for their touch of love.
You stand still, unsure whether to try to catch it or not. You watch as it slips through someone’s fingers and falls to the ground and think how appropriate that is because the majority of us are not so lucky, and the idea of one day putting a wedding dress on seems like a fantasy. There’s a reason why tv shows like Love Island exist, and it’s not just so we can watch beautiful people in bikinis.
The modern age of dating is a battlefield. You’re being attacked at every turn and struck repeatedly by half-hearted matches on Tinder, one-night stand culture, getting nervous before your date and drinking too much wine, the conversations that slowly dwindle into silence, and, most of all, the ‘I’m just not that into you’. Even when you finally find someone, there’s a chance that it won’t end well, and you have to start all over again. Only this time, you’re even more bloodied and bruised than before.
Of course, having your heart broken is one of life’s promises. It happens to us all, and it’s a necessary pain, something we need, even though, in the moment, we refuse to believe it. But how you’re supposed to pick yourself back up from it is very often a mystery. There is something very painful about standing there and doing nothing; to see everyone else move on and see yourself stuck in a love that ruined you. So, how do we become unstuck? What do we have to change inside ourselves to break out of that vicious nightmare and start again?
HAVE A CRY
Well, to heal a broken heart means tackling it head on. When you’re grieving, that seems like the worst idea imaginable, but it is the only real way through. Your emotions will be running high, so let them. Have a cry. Listen to every heartbreak anthem on Spotify. Eat an entire tub of ice-cream whilst watching a Nicholas Sparks movie to wallow in it, at least for a little while. You have to let yourself feel and let the pain in. When it slowly starts to hurt less, you can start rebuilding yourself.
SOCIALISE AND EXPLORE
It’s important to say yes to socialising, whether that’s a night out with the girls, or just a coffee and a walk. Reconnect with friends you haven’t seen in a while. Focus on your work, but also your hobbies. Go dancing. Try something new. Clear out the clutter in your heart, and you will start to feel whole again.
CAREER CHANGES AND DOUBT
Another potential for recurrent change lies within our careers. We’re supposed to decide what we want to do with the rest of our lives at a very young age, and there is a certain amount of stigma that surrounds you when you might wish to divert from that.
When I was 18, my dream was to become a published author and all I wanted to do was write. But I knew that would take time and that I needed to be sensible. So, I went to university; I studied for a good degree, one that could get me a ‘realistic’ job at the end of it. I planned to venture into the world of journalism or publishing, and I started writing on a freelance basis. But, through all of this, I was paranoid that I had chosen wrong. I was burned out and finding writing incredibly hard. I had lost the passion I had when I was younger, and it terrified me. I had gone through this entire process, and what if I had made a mistake? Maybe I should have trained to become a teacher, or a solicitor, or a doctor.
These thoughts are not uncommon for any adult. Everyone has a moment where they’re stuck with the sudden realisation that they’re not content with their career choice or that they’re not being pushed hard enough. They’ve lost their initial ambition, or even something as simple as just realising they’re not working for the right brand or company. In some cases, people have been made redundant.
It’s in these moments that we must reflect on what we really want, and how to get there. This is an individual experience and depends on how much we earn, how flexible we are in terms of ability to career changes, and how much support we have from loved ones. The majority of people can’t move jobs just like that. There are a lot of parameters to consider. But it’s something we can turn into an idea, and once that’s there, we can start to work towards it.
The first step is to consider where our strengths lie, what our talents are, and how can we build them into a potential future career. Then, it’s about finding the right place, and even though that can take a lot of time, it’s important to be certain before you commit. If you cannot move careers for whatever reason just yet, it’s about trying to rebuild the YOU that works there. Acknowledge that you won’t be there forever and that chances will come forward eventually. Try different methods of working, to see if there are ways better suited to your work ethic. Think of it as an experience, something that will prepare you for other positions in your industry. Take a deep breath, try not to let yourself be disheartened, and focus on what you truly love.
LEARN AND EDUCATE
Among the industries, the fashion world is the true meaning of change. It is a place where you really see the passing of time. As an adult with a busy life, it can be hard to keep up with the trends and the best options with regards to sustainability. We want to be making the best choices for ourselves and for the world in its entirety, but it’s hard to combine all these factors into an image that best represents ourselves. The changes within the industry seem out of our control, which makes it even harder.
However, a good way to ride this wave of change is by doing your research and seeing what is out there and that best suits your fashion agenda. It does not have to be cause for apprehension. Your nearest high street will most likely hold a couple of charity shops where you can invest in recycled clothing. Additionally, if you want a quicker solution, there are ethical online stores. Websites like Made Trade and Azura Bay retail large selections of eco-friendly clothing and shoes. All you have to do is intertwine that with your personal style and you are set.
If you’re unsure what your personal style is, start at the very beginning. Think of the colours you like, what suits your skin tone, what falls flatteringly on the body, and what makes you feel confident. Soon enough, you’ll have your perfect capsule wardrobe for every possible event.
Change is something that a lot of people find daunting. But it is inevitable in every aspect of life, and for the most part, it can be a positive redirection. Learning ways to get through it is just as important as re-establishing yourself on the other side. Feeling overwhelmed and nervous are normal reactions to adaptation. It’s how we re-build ourselves around those emotions that define our success.
To read more of Ruth’s work, you can follow her on Instagram @thewriterruth.