Dear eNotAlone: I'm a man in my early twenties, and I'm struggling to figure out who I am and what I want out of life. I'm stuck in a constant cycle of looking around and seeing everyone else achieving the things I want but not being able to get there myself. I feel like I'm a little behind and can never catch up, and it's incredibly frustrating. I feel like I'm missing something -- like there's a piece of the puzzle that I just can't seem to find. I don't know how to break out of this funk and move on with my life. How can I get back on track and figure out who I am and what I want?
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If you feel like you're lacking direction in your life, it might be time to invest some time in self-reflection. It can be difficult to take a step back and look at our lives objectively, but with patience and a willingness to really listen to yourself, it can be worth it.
Take an honest assessment of what you have done in the past and where you are right now: Where did you come from? What were your successes and failures? Where do you want to go next, and why? Think deeply about where any feelings of low self-esteem and apathy may come from - these can often be a result of childhood or early adult experiences, or pressure to live up to a particular standard.
It's also important to remember that life isn't a race. As long as you're doing your best, you should never compare yourself to others and what they have achieved. It's likely that they have had different experiences and hardships from yours, that have shaped them and their life path in different ways.
Rather than focusing on what everyone else is doing, create an action plan for yourself for the near future. This could include goals such as taking a class or training session, signing up to an online course, or even joining a local community group. Having something concrete to work towards can help keep your mind occupied and boost your confidence. It's also a good idea to make sure you give yourself time to relax and recharge, no matter how busy you may be. Take the time to indulge in activities you enjoy, even if it's just spending half an hour on a hobby. Having regular "me time" will help bring peace and clarity to your life.
Take a proactive approach to looking after your mental health. Educate yourself on possible warning signs and speak to someone you trust if you ever feel overwhelmed or experience an overwhelming sense of anxiety. These steps may not be easy to undertake, but they will help you to create structure in your life and become the best version of yourself. As always, take care of yourself and be kind to yourself.