The big thing I learned when I was 22.
Firstly, reader friends, I must apologise.
Every year I promised to do this “5 things I learned” post on my birthday. This year I fucked up. My birthday was four days ago, and I have been preoccupied by work, sleep, and $12 vodka lemonades equally. But whatever. It’s March 21st and here is my first blog post in what feels like 271 full moons. I’m sorry. This blog is not dead, I promise – it’s simply in hibernation.
Also – the “5 things” listicle idea I had when I was 20 seems a bit Buzzfeed circa 2013 now. From this point forth I shall just include however many things I actually learned. Because modern/forward thinking/futuristic/innovation/zeitgeist etc.
SO. 22 was another weird year, which seems to be a running theme in my life now. I moved out of home with my man person. I was promoted at work a couple of times. A doctor told me I have the lungs of a 70-year-old. I lost approximately 200 Instagram followers. I got trolled by a grandmother. Yes, a grandmother. I gained four kilos, then lost about six, then gained another three, and now I’m eating my second cup of noodles in bed for today because I forgot how good cups of noodles are until I was desperately hungover from my ‘birthday drinks’ and rediscovered them at the bottom of my pantry.
SORRY! Back to the point – despite all of the above, this year, I think I learned one lesson. But it was a big one.
Let’s talk about my magical lesson.
1. I am ahead of where I want to be in my career, and yet I have nothing figured out.
The last year of my life has been defined by work – my career. How much I can push myself? How creative can I be? How fast can I progress? How many people can I trample on to get higher? (Jokes, jokes.)
I am a competitive person, and that’s not easy to admit. A man who wants to be successful? Impressive. Sexy. Rugged. Probably has a huge doodle. Christian Grey from Fifty Shades. A woman who wants to be successful? Naggy. Bossy. Flippant. Probably doesn’t shave her bits. Miranda from Sex and The City.
But that’s me. I’ve never really hid it. I’m Miranda Fucking Hobbs but with dishwater blonde hair and a wardrobe full of Cotton On, not Chanel. Whatever.
When you’re in your early twenties, you’re supposed to be a hot ball of mess. Traveling all the time, sleeping around, jumping from job to job, right? If I’ve learned anything from my Facebook feed, I should be dating the 17 Guys Who Will Make The Right One Worth It, and perhaps that’s true for most people – but my problems are entirely different.
My name is Michelle Andrews, I am now 23, and I’m ahead of where I wanted to be. Oh, and I’m more confused, tired, and anxious than ever.
You see, I got to where I wanted to go far quicker than what I planned. When I left uni at the end of 2015, I thought I might become an editor at 26, or 27. But by some bizarre miracle it happened early, and it kinda feels like I’ve rocked up to school with my culottes on back-to-front.
For those who wandered here aimlessly and don’t know who the jeff I am, I’m a Weekend Editor at Mamamia.com.au. And you see, last Tuesday, on my way home from work, I burst into tears on the tram. I was so snotty an elderly lady looked at me with pity and asked if I was having boy troubles. “Oh no,” I told her, “I’m exhausted, and stressed from work. I’m okay… really. I’m just tired. And, like… really, really stressed.”
She looked at me the way Nadia looks at Anthony on Married At First Sight. “Dear,” she began, “you are much too young to be crying about work stress.”
She’s right. But what I’ve learned recently – and by recently I mean since Tuesday – is that being “stressed” is entirely my own problem. It is not the company (Mamamia is bloody kickass. I would seriously recommend anyone with a pulse to intern/work there). It’s not the position. It’s not the hours, or workload, or news cycle, or any of that.
It’s me. My stress and anxiety are entirely my own doing.
Being able to control both of those things is a work in progress. I’ve tossed around the idea of deleting work apps off my phone, or switching it off altogether at 8pm. I’ve downloaded meditation podcasts and researched the benefits of this mindfulness bullshit everyone keeps talking about. I get acupuncture regularly. I try to limit how much I drink and extend how much I sleep. I try to get sunlight. Or to come up for air from my laptop every once in a while.
I wonder how many other 20-somethings out there feel the same way. I’m sure there are heaps of us. Sometimes, I wish we could make a little colony, move to Peru, and figure out how to destress together. I’d bring noodles and a huge bag of dark chocolate maltesers and demand someone show me what the deal with mindfulness is. It’d just be so handy to know.
If you feel the same way, please tell me so on Facebook, or in the comments. I will send you an invite to our Peruvian party and love you forevermore.
Until next time (I’ll aim for less full moons between posts, I promise),