Lately I’ve been grappling with the idea that I’m not enough. And it made me decide to write a post about why you might be struggling with confidence in your twenties. Or at least why I’m struggling with it because I can’t speak for everyone. But maybe you can relate to some of these feelings.
Are you constantly worried that you’re not where you’re supposed to be by this point in your life? Like maybe you’re behind somehow, whether that’s in your career, finances, or life stage.
Do you struggle with imposter syndrome? Constantly worrying that you’re not doing well in your job despite contrary evidence that you are. Are you worried that you don’t know enough?
Do you feel like you have to have it all figured out by the time you’re 30? Then you and I are on the same page. We’re both worriers. And I know for me that worrying mentality stems from my own fear of inadequacy; my lack of confidence in myself.
As always I don’t claim to be an expert, and I’m not going to offer you a “cure all” for your problems. But there are a few things I’ve learned that help me when I’m spiraling with self doubt.
Here are four tips/reminders that might help you when you’re struggling with confidence in your twenties.
Accept where you’re at right now in your life
With any self esteem issue, the first step is always acceptance. In this case it’s accepting where you’re at in life. Your view of yourself is usually dependent on society’s expectations of you.
But just because we’re told that we need to leave home for college at 18. Immediately find a job after graduation. And be financially stable enough to live alone as soon as we enter the workforce. Doesn’t mean it’s true.
Most of it isn’t. We don’t live in a hallmark movie or a disney channel sitcom where everything always works out. The truth is that most of us graduate with a boatload of debt. It’s hard to find a job when you first graduate. And you have to move back home because the housing market is ridiculous right now.
That need to meet society’s expectations, despite the very real obstacles facing you, is probably why you’re struggling with confidence. I know that I can think about the fact that I’m still living at home, and feel like I’ve somehow failed.
And so I take a step back and remind myself that I did everything society told me to do. I went to college, studied something “stable”, got my degree, and got a job in my field. I should get what society promised me.
But “doing everything right” doesn’t change the fact that the housing market skyrocketed and it now costs you your entire monthly income to rent an apartment on your own #torontoproblems.
Accept that there’s nothing wrong with you. Sometimes life doesn’t go as planned. It’s your choice whether you want to continue to measure yourself against a standard that no longer applies to our generation.
But I hope you choose to accept the reality of your situation and move forward from there.
Stop comparing yourself to your peers
Comparison is a big one! We live in the era of social media, where you only see someone’s highlight reel. Literally instagram just released their new update and it’s called reels.
But because everyone can curate their feeds to make it look like they’re constantly living their best lives, we get fooled into thinking their lives are perfect. And so we compare. We allow the 1% we know about their life dictate how we feel about the 99% of our own.
I know it’s hard not to compare ourselves to others, especially people our age. We look at what they have or what they’re doing, and we feel inferior. Or like we’re not good enough.
Do you ever look at someone excelling at something you’re doing or want to try doing, and think, “well mine will never be as good as theirs?” You look at your work and think it’s not good enough. Sometimes you end up quitting.
Focusing on someone else’s progress or achievements and comparing them to your own can be the main reason you’re struggling with confidence in adulthood. And it doesn’t add any value to your life. Even though you can draw inspiration from others’ successes, focusing on them is more detrimental than beneficial to you.
My practical advice is to focus on being better than the “you” you were yesterday. I know it sounds cheesy, but logically the only person you can compare yourself to is you. Comparing yourself to someone else and their progress doesn’t actually make sense.
Because they’ve lived a different life than you have. They’ve had different experiences that have shaped them and got them to where they are. Just like you have your own. Comparing yourself to someone else is like comparing apples to pumpkins; they’ve just been grown differently.
You have enough time to do everything you want to do
There’s this idea that we need to accomplish all our goals by the time we’re thirty. We should be settled into adulthood by then; working our dream jobs, living our best lives.
We look at our twenties like those are our learning years. Like this one decade sets us up for the next 50-60 years. But it doesn’t. You have enough time to accomplish everything you want in life.
I have friends in their thirties that are still setting goals and accomplishing them. My mom is in her fifties and she’s still trying new things. When were we told that we had to know everything by the time we were thirty? That we had to be settled. I don’t think I’d even want that.
Feeling like you’re running out of time or like you won’t be where you need to be has a negative impact on your self esteem. It’s probably why you’re struggling with confidence in your life right now.
You can spend so much of your time and energy worrying that you’re not going to accomplish everything in time. And it makes no sense because it’s like saying that you won’t set goals after you turn thirty. Which makes for a pretty boring life if you ask me.
So stop putting so much pressure on yourself. You have enough time. This internal deadline you’ve set for yourself is only stressing you out. It’s making you miss out on the fun part of being in your twenties.
I know it’s easier said than done, so here’s my advice. Ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen if you don’t do *blank* by the time you’re thirty. Usually the answer is, I guess I’ll do it after then.
Stop worrying about the future
Lastly, you might be struggling with confidence in your life right now because you’re constantly worrying about the next stage. Whether that’s in your career or your personal life. You’re always worried that you won’t be prepared for it.
Sometimes it feels like you will never know enough. And so when that next stage of life starts, you’ll fail. But the truth is worrying and obsessing over it won’t make you more successful in the future. It only robs you of your joy in the present.
Because you will never know “enough”. It’s impossible to prepare for every scenario. Anything can happen, and you just have to do your best despite the circumstances.
Maybe you just started your career, and you’re trying to learn as much as you can, so that when you’re no longer a junior, you can be relied on. It may scare you that you won’t have all the answers by the time you’ve been promoted. And maybe you won’t, but that’s okay. You should always be learning in your career anyways.
You might be single right now, and scared that you’ll never get married, or that you will and it’ll end in divorce. Worrying about those things won’t bring you any closer to finding your spouse or prepare you for every conflict in your marriage. Life just happens. We learn and adapt when the time comes.
There is no checklist or road map for life. There is no point at which you arrive and you are now the “supreme adult”. Our parents just make it look like that.
Don’t obsess over the next stage and allow your fears to control you. You’ll be ready enough when it happens. Have confidence in the fact that you’re doing the best you can until then.
Having confidence in yourself is a choice
At the end of the day, you will have moments in your life where you will compare yourself to someone else or worry about whether you are enough. But like anything in life, it’s what you choose to do in that moment that defines you.
I hope you choose to believe in yourself. And to accept that any negative feeling you have is only as powerful as you make it. Have confidence in the person you are becoming, and that it’s happening exactly as it should.
If you enjoyed this article, check out my other posts like this one under the category adventures in adulting. And let me know what you think on social by sending me a message on instagram. Subscribe below for new posts, recipes, and more.