6.9.13

Why I’ve decided 20-something doesn’t have to be 20-everything




I hadn’t figured it out; any of it, and yet just as my 25th birthday arrived, I felt an overwhelming sense of disappointment.

Life.

I was on a medical leave and had flown back to stay with my Family in Toronto when my birthday came and went, partly for the stress and anxiety I put on myself, and partly because there had been so many issues in my life, I never dealt with, never allowing myself the time to work on me and instead, tucking it away, like a ticking time bomb.

So, how did I get here?

The Reader’s Digest version would indicate that at an even younger age, I set incredibly lofty goals (to be the beat reporter for the New York Yankees for the YES Network in New York City), I focused solely on working, interning, and volunteering to gain networking opportunities, and never found time for me, my personal and mental health, or my own happiness.

Ah, happiness. I’ll come back to this.

When I was diagnosed with depression in April 2012, after slipping into what was one of the hardest periods I’ve endured in my life, I had to fight myself and every habit I had been forming, to break a cycle. I wouldn’t shower, I didn’t eat, I either couldn’t sleep at all or couldn’t get out of bed, and yet, I appeared fine to almost everyone on the outside of my little 500-square-foot apartment I call my home. However, for the few that knew me well, they knew I wasn’t okay. Coming to terms with the word ‘depression’ and ‘anxiety’ wasn’t easy and posed a lot of questions for myself and for the few people in my life I trusted to share with.

Someone asked me, ‘doesn’t everyone your age have anxiety and depression?’ and to that I couldn’t respond. I knew stress and anxiety were normal parts of every day life – most human beings experience various levels of both from time to time or even daily – but I wasn’t sure how many people felt like they were constantly letting them self down.  That’s how I felt; I was now at an age I had set as a deadline, to have accomplished my goals, heck I even thought I’d be married by twenty-five, and here I was, unhappy with the life and the person I had created.

In Toronto, we celebrated my ‘Quarter-Life Crisis’ and I was hugged more than I could have every imagined, but I wasn’t okay yet. It was only days prior I had divulged the full-depth of my mental, emotional, and physical state during the lowest points of my depression with my parents, so I was still struggling to just take a deep breath and enjoy the safe haven of my family’s home.



I didn’t love the person I had become; I had sad eyes, a quieter voice, and no confidence in any of my accomplishments but, slowly, over two weeks time, my shoulders relaxed, I felt rested for the first time in months, I ate more than I had in weeks, and I began to love myself again. I talked to my parents, my siblings, my Nana, my closest friends, sharing stories of my life out West, and being honest with myself for the first time in a long time. For once, I felt like I was starting to take my own advice of practicing Santosha - a Sanskrit word of living in state of divine contentment which means to be content and accept where you are, physically, mentally, and emotionally in every moment, knowing time will pass and the present will ultimately change.


Returning home to Calgary, days after I had officially hit my mid-twenties, my Mum called. We spoke as we always do, almost daily, about our plans, our day-to-day, and what we’re doing, but this time was different. She paused slightly on the other end of the phone and when she spoke, she sounded pleased. My mum, the person who had talked me through panic attacks, hospital visits, and the saddest of days, and snuggled for days when I was with her, told me I sounded happy; like myself, but happier.

I had recognized that happiness within me too, but it took someone else, someone I love and adore pointing it out, for it to be real and in that moment, I knew I had grown into a better woman, someone I could look in the mirror and be proud of, for all that I was and all that I am today.

There’s so much pressure riding on twenty-something’s to have it all figured it – a career, a relationship, a social life – but where is this pressure coming from? For me, it was from myself, I had created unsustainable goals and wants creating a constant anxiety, that I was becoming harder and harder to please. And while I dreamed and hoped I would figure it all out in my twenties, or even by twenty-five - my goals, my dreams, my wants, my needs - I’m satisfied knowing I’ve figured out the one thing I will need for the rest of my life and especially, as I grow with every passing year: what makes me, Megan Robinson, happy.

While I still haven’t figured it out; any of it, life, there’s a small collection of truths I have realized over the past few months that I will continue to carry with me, not only through the remainder of my twenties, but for the rest of my life.  

1. I have time and setting age deadlines for any significant moment or goal isn’t worth the stress on my mind, my body, or my emotional state. I wanted to reach my highest career goal by twenty-five and while I’m no where close, I know I have the rest of my working life to reach that mark, while setting new goals, and accomplishing unexpected things, along the way.

2. It’s only a job, something my dad, my calm, loving, caring dad, has told me since I started working at a young age. With this mentally, few things in my every day job bother me these days and I have the ability to recognize what I offer and how I can grow as an employee and as a person. If I stop growing or it makes me unhappy or unhealthy, it’s time to move on. After all, it’s only a job, paying my bills, and giving me a place to call home and live my life for me.

3. Get out and do something. Go hike a mountain, join a yoga studio, take a walk with a friend, throw birthday parties for strangers, or just take a drive. I have met so many wonderful people in the last few months that all provide a new and different perspective in my life. Not to mention, exercise really does do wonders for every part of my being.  Elle Woods from Legally Blonde, anyone? “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.”

4. There’s no use for negative people in my life and when a relationship begins to influence my life in a negative way, it’s time to remove that friendship from your life. This isn’t easy and sometimes, it hurts, but now I know that the friends I keep can truly be trusted and depended on, all things they’ve shown me and I try to continue to show them, as life goes on.

5. I’d rather feel lonely sometimes than be unhappy with the wrong person and being a happy, single woman, is wonderful. I love to spend time by myself, to enjoy the quiet of my little home, and to know I’m not going to settle. Sure, I miss the companionship of a romantic partner, I miss holding hands, but I’m not going to do those things with just anyone, regardless of how old I get without someone.

6. It’s okay to want to go to bed early and have hobbies like stamping and card making, and obsessions like doughnuts and bunnies. I am a self-proclaimed, G-Ma, with a love for vintage, snail-mail, and making casseroles to feed a crowd. I love these qualities about myself and while most twenty-five-year-olds have slightly different concerns, I’m pleased with mine.

So, it’s with that knowledge, the things I have learned, today, tomorrow and every day of my twenties to follow, I will smile wider, love deeper, laugh louder, hug the people I love harder, and hike a mountain or two every now and then. 

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Read Life Lessons ~ at 50 with Wanda Love, ~ at 40 with Christina Rowsell ~ at 30 with Billie Jo Ross. ~ at 20 with Megan Robinson.

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