Dear eNotAlone: My life has been one big struggle for the past few years. I feel like I can't make any progress no matter how hard I try, and it's incredibly disheartening. Everything from my job to my relationships to my finances has always been a struggle and I just don't know what else to do.
I'm 28 and feel like I should have had more success at this point in my life. I'm devastated that I'm not as successful or as content as I thought I'd be by now. I have nobody I can really talk to about this, so I'm wondering if anyone has advice that could help me. A lot of it feels out of my control and it would be really helpful to get some perspective on how I can work through it.
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You've undertaken a great challenge by attempting to find perspective and untangle the web that currently has you feeling like you're moving in circles. Life is all about learning, growing, and taking steps forward, despite the occasional missteps — so don't be too hard on yourself!
First things first, take a deep breath and recognize that your current situation is only temporary and can be improved. No matter the situation, there's always something you can do. Take a step back from the situation and start by considering each factor and how it contributes to the larger picture. Get rid of the disparaging comments about yourself and think about the root cause of the struggle. For example, how does your job fit into the rest of your life? Is it helping you to progress or holding you back? Is the salary adequate given the hours you have to work?
Once you have taken an inventory of the situation, it's time to get creative. Utilizing resources such as career advice services, skills-building programs, and formal education can be helpful to strengthen your personal and professional development. Doing this can open up more opportunities for exploration and growth. Also, it can be beneficial to reach out to professionals or mentors who can give you advice to gear you towards the right direction. For example, talking to someone in your university alumni network could provide valuable insights on potential job openings and even give great life advice.
Aside from finding fresh perspectives and creative solutions, focus on self-care. Acknowledge your feelings, take care of yourself through exercise, rest, and healthy eating habits, and do small things to treat yourself. Rewarding yourself can help keep you motivated and help you take the long-term approach when dealing with challenging scenarios.
Remember, there is hope. Challenges may limit us, but they don't define us. Corrective action such as understanding the issue and readjusting accordingly can have a positive outcome. With a little bit of creative problem solving and hard work, you can move uphill and make progress to where you want to be.