What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do

(Ph by Mariet)

The worst of the quarter life crisis is behind me.

I mean, the results are in: I want to work in academic education and research in psychology, write entertaining things on the Internet and do whatever the fuck I feel like doing in my personal life.

At least for now, I am not going through those big exhausting motions of trying to figure out what I want and second guessing every move I make.

But sometimes, I still freak out a little. Sometimes I still think “oh my GOD, do I even know what I’m doing”, “where will I be in a couple of years” and “What if people finally found out I can’t actually do anything and don’t know anything and everything I ever did was just luck and AHHHHH”

I HATE those moments. HATE ‘EM.

I hate feeling like I am not sure of myself, my life, my future. I hate feeling like I am not being the woman Beyonce and Nicki Minaj want me to be, basically.

I bet this is a familiar issue for many people (minus the Beyonce x Nicki Minaj obsession perhaps). Being in that position makes us feel super-uncomfortable.

So.

What to do when you don’t know what to do?  Find out below.

MAKE A PLAN For me, uncertainty and stress about my life stems from not having a clear idea of what’s going on and what I need to do. I always need to know what I’m supposed to do, and what I’m up against.

One thing that always calms me down considerably is writing down a to do list, as well as an outline of my schedule for the upcoming time, or just journaling how everything is going right now.

As soon as the present and the foreseeable future are clear(er), I’m calmer.

Because I can’t realistically know what I’m supposed to be doing in three years, but I DO know that for now, I just have to meet two deadlines, send out some emails and call my dentist.

I don’t know where I’ll be living next year, but I do know that right now I can clean the kitchen and put some money in my savings account.

Worrying about where you’ll be at in the future doesn’t really get you anywhere. Knowing where you are right now and working from there does increase the chances of you ending up in a good future scenario.

TAKE A SHOWER I personally can deal with life much better when I’m fresh out of the shower. There is something relaxing about coming out of the bathroom all clean, smelling like shampoo and deodorant. I don’t need a blowout or make up (but if you do, do that too), feeling clean is enough for me.

DO THINGS I used to become paralysed by not knowing what to do or where to go, but that would make me feel worse AND make me freak out even worse later on. I now battle my fear of whatever the hell my life is going to turn out like by doing things.

I send the emails, do the work, write the things, whatsapp the friends.* I try to be active about my own life as much as I can.

TALK TO PEERS I talk to my friends about what I’m worried about, what I am stressed about, what went wrong at work or in my personal life. This relaxes me and their support and encouragement makes me feel better. When I don’t know what to do, their advice or their stories can help me figure things out.

The saying “Don’t talk to anyone about your problems: 80% don’t care and 20% are glad you have them” is a horrible and misguided expression. It creates loneliness, and the need to keep up the appearance that your life is perfect is very stressful.

Here is the thing: People aren’t happy you have problems: they are happy they are not the only one with problems.

I don’t feel better because YOU’RE struggling with something, I feel better because I am not the only one who struggles. THAT’S why it’s good for me to know you have problems too, so I feel less alone and not so much like a failure.

Opening up to each other helps. Shared unsuccessful adulting mean is stress relieving and uplifting, which means we can adult more successfully together.

CONCLUSIONS It’s okay to not know what do do. We all go through it, we all worry about fucking up, failures and insecurities. I think that by having/making a plan for the foreseeable future, staying active and productive in the moment and talking to friends about what’s bothering you, you can deal with that most effectively.

Oh, and take a shower. Because hygiene is good for the soul AND the people around you.

*This I’m still the worst at. I never forget my people, but I do sometimes forget creating my own social life.

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7 comments

  1. Heel erg herkenbaar: ook al weet ik nog zo goed wat ik wil doen en wat me blij maakt, er zijn altijd van die momenten van twijfel over of ik wel geschikt ben, het wel aankan, het wel zal blijven kunnen etc. Maar ik ben het helemaal eens met wat je zegt over het hier en nu: het maakt eigenlijk maar weinig uit waar je over drie of vijf of tien jaar bent, als je in het hier en nu maar kunt doen wat je wilt doen en waar je gelukkig van wordt.

  2. Ik doe met je mee.. Dat gat tussen afstuderen en dan geen baan hebben maar wel nog thuis wonen en eigenlijk wel echt het huis uit moeten is best wel heel erg groot. En diep, en donker, en eng. Ik solliciteer wel maar ik weet bij veel niet eens of ik die functie uberhaupt wel leuk vind, vreselijk!

  3. Dit had ik even nodig, dankjewel. Een zomervakantie biedt veel tijd om over van alles na te denken, maar voor sommige dingen is het lastig om een antwoord te vinden.

  4. Heel herkenbaar! M’n scriptie schiet eigenlijk voor geen meter op, iedereen is vakantie aan het vieren en dat wil ik ook!! Maar ondertussen wil ik stiekem nog heel even student zijn en niet bijna afgestudeerd… Ik denk vaak.. ik ga vast nooit een baan vinden want iedereen is beter/slimmer/leuker maar dat moet ik niet doen! Ik ben ook heel leuk/slim/goed 😀

  5. Ik struggle hier op dit moment echt ontzettend mee.. Mijn master loopt ten einde (bijna) en ik weet eigenlijk helemaal niet of ik dat wel wil worden. Het ALLERLIEFST ga ik gewoon nog een master doen. Maar he, DUO en leningen en gedoe..

    Ik weet het allemaal even niet meer.. Maar dat komt vanzelf wel weer hoop ik..