As twenty-somethings, are we all biting off a little more than we can chew?

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All last week, I seemed to be battling a feeling completely foreign and quite scary to me: anxiety. I’ve always applauded myself as the type of person who is always put together and has things figured out, even when I’m juggling many things at once, but it seems my twenty-something self was finally too ill equipped to handle it all. There I was, lump in my throat, shortness of breath, increased heart rate and lingering nausea, completely unaware of what was making me feel so strangely (which only made matters worse). To say this experience was frightening would be an understatement, and I couldn’t stop wondering when I would just feel normal and myself again.

After a great weekend spent relaxing and hanging out with John and his family, I surprisingly felt much better. My symptoms seemed to have vanished and it suddenly hit me that maybe that was all due to the fact that I’d finally let myself relax and recharge.

As a twenty (three)-something female, I work full time for a Marketing company, blog 3-4 times weekly, am trying to jumpstart a photography career, live in and help maintain a home with my boyfriend, am in the process of finding and adopting a dog with this boyfriend, manage my personal finances in addition to remembering to pay the gas, electric, water, internet, student loan, credit card and car insurance bills on time and a lot of other things I could list but you probably don’t want to read anyway. (Yes, the length of that sentence was intended to make you feel anxious and overwhelmed.) Being far away from home means I can’t just go see my friends and family, so instead I have to rely on weekly phone calls to feel connected to most of the important people in my life. In a nutshell, I am the human equivalent of the energizer bunny. And in between all of my daily responsibilities, I leave little to no time for me. It’s no wonder my brain is exploding.

After sitting down and consciously thinking of everything I am responsible for on a daily basis, I had to ask myself if we are all guilty of biting off a little more than we can chew as twenty-somethings. One minute you’re in college responsible for little more than completing class work and buying groceries, next thing you know you have to find a job, pay back your loans, and totally survive on your own. While this is all part of growing up, I’ve learned quickly that it’s easy to take on too much sometimes and even easier to forget about oneself when all is said and done.

While my brief encounter with anxiety was pretty alarming and frightening, it also forced me to take a step back and focus on me. I’d be crazy to think I could juggle all of the elements of my life seamlessly 100% of the time, so it’s time to stop holding myself to impossible standards. Instead, I plan to carve out time each day to do nothing but focus on myself and relaxing. I encourage you to do the same!

Do you feel pressure as a twenty-something to have the ability to juggle dozens of priorities at once? How do you combat this pressure and still make time for yourself?

34 thoughts on “As twenty-somethings, are we all biting off a little more than we can chew?

  1. Style Journey

    I think that no matter how old you are, sometimes we all bite off more than we can chew. Being a mom, taking care of the house, working full time, and helping my husband with our new business I get overwhelmed a lot! Reading books and blogging are my ways to decompress and relax a little bit. It’s my “me” time. Heather

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      So true! This is something that definitely translates into all stages of life – it’s just new to me now that I am living on my own and really starting to take on all these additional responsibilities. Reading is definitely one of my favorite ways to relax!

      Reply
  2. Megan

    It’s so important to realize that it’s ok to take some time out of the day to just relax and spend time on ourselves. In this day and age, we forget that! I’m glad you have started taking time for YOU 🙂

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      Megan, I couldn’t agree more! We have so much to be responsible for that it’s easy to forget to slow down sometimes. I’m trying to be better at giving myself a little more credit!

      Reply
  3. Rachel

    Stephanie, I know the feeling all too well. I actually suffer from anxiety disorder-I recently sought out help and have been on medicine. It’s a terrible thing to live with, it changes your everyday interactions, responsibilities and relationships. I’ve tried to put less on my plate and just let certain things go because I am not superwoman! People always equate being busy with being happy and successful, but sometimes being too busy is just the opposite. You sound like you have a good plan on how to deal with it from now on though, so that’s great!

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      Rachel, thank you so much for sharing your own story here! Anxiety is such a new feeling to me, and while it hasn’t been severe enough yet to interfere with my day to day life, it is scary and hard to deal with when it rears its ugly head. I couldn’t agree more with what you said about being busy – sometimes I think people treat business as a status symbol, thinking that the busier you are the more important you must be in the world. I think that’s one of the reasons all of us have such a hard time slowing down and relaxing, our culture practically forces us to be busy and stressed out 100% of the time!

      Reply
  4. mollystillman

    i identify with this so much – i am a people pleaser and i always try to take on too much… but as i’ve gotten in to my (late) twenties, i’ve learned that saying NO is a must. also, relaxing. relaxing is a must.

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      You know I am the same way! Being a people pleaser makes it even harder to relax, I’m constantly thinking of others before thinking of myself. Relaxing is definitely a must, and I need to make more time for it.

      Reply
  5. albucco10

    You totally put into words everything I’m constantly feeling–especially since starting a full-time big girl job. Most days I’m at work (or commuting) for upwards of 12 hours, leaving not much time for anything else besides dinner, a shower and bed. Add to that an attempt to workout in the morning before work, and blog in the evening after, and I’m very close to a mental crash. I’ve also long-suffered from bouts of anxiety, which have definitely amped up since my job. Luckily, they don’t seem to affect any other aspects of my life (happiness, relationships, etc), but my mental stress definitely increases. I find I’m my most calm when I stick to some sort of a schedule and remember that nothing is really THAT important that it should ruin my day or stress me out uncontrollably.

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      My experience with anxiety is definitely very similar to yours – it doesn’t interfere with my personal relationships or happiness, but it IS scary and uncomfortable when it happens. I think I need to take your advice and remind myself not to take everything so seriously sometimes. Thanks for reading girl!

      Reply
  6. Jenn

    I’m right there with you girl! I think it’s easy to take on too much in your early-mid 20s! We are just putting together all of our “adult” responsibilities, while trying to put together an “adult” lifestyle and career, but we are still young! We don’t want to lose who we are to pay the bills so we overextend ourselves to get out name out there. I think it’s important to take time for yourself and separate a private life from the career life. I think it sounds like you’re doing a great job!

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      I couldn’t have said it any better! Especially in our culture, careers are such an important aspect of life. It’s easy to put work first in order to please coworkers and bosses, but we often forget how important a personal life is too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      Reply
  7. kitchenclosetheart

    Thank you for putting it out there! I feel like there is so much pressure on people our age, and it’s something our parents didn’t experience. Both of my parents lived at home until the day they got married, and then 10 months later I was born. They instantly had a new support system after they left the nest. I’m the oldest, so I feel like I’m like forging this new path: We’re in this weird gray-area, with our own bills, our own apartments, and our own problems that are completely separate from everyone else. It’s extremely alienating sometimes. But it’s good to talk about because it makes us all realize that we aren’t alone.

    Another masterpiece, doll.

    xx
    M

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      Thank you for the kind words! I think you make some really good points, the times really HAVE changed a lot since our parents were in their 20s, and it’s a totally new experience for our generation. Life after college is really make it or break it now, and people are focusing way more on their careers and independence than they are marriage and children. I think this totally makes sense with the way the world has evolved, but it makes it very easy to become overwhelmed with responsibility. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who feels this way!

      Reply
  8. Always Maylee

    I think it’s always important to remember to take a step back and enjoy life. Of course, I often feel anxious with all the things going on in our lives and stress is just inevitable. I’ve found maintaining some sort of schedule is really helpful (that and because I’m pretty much a control freak) and automatic bill payments are a life saver, haha! 🙂

    xo, Yi-chia
    Always Maylee

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      Totally agree, it’s impossible to avoid stress 100% of the time. But we CAN make more of an effort to step back and relax sometimes, which is what I plan on doing. I’ve always been wary of automatic bill payments but now that I have so many I’m thinking it might be a good idea.

      Reply
  9. Pearls and Lace

    Great post Stephanie! It’s so strange that you chose to blog about this today as I had the worst sleep last night from what I can only guess was caused by anxiety. There is so much going on in our day to day lives that sometimes I think it’s only natural to feel overwhelmed and a bit anxious. I do think that at our age we take on more than we can (or should), probably because we have a hard time saying no (at least I do). I’m a perfectionist and I hate to fail, so combine those two qualities and it’s a recipe for stress. I’m really bad with knowing when to say enough is enough, instead I usually run myself into the ground trying to get tasks accomplished. This was extremely evident when planning our wedding as I did a lot of diy projects, most of which we’re done without the help of anyone other than my husband. I’m still trying to figure out the best way to juggle all the stuff in my life and still make time for myself, but one thing that my husband has been trying to teach me is to not take on too much and know when you have to turn an opportunity down because there just isn’t enough time.

    xo jen

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      Jen- thanks for sharing all of this! I think you’re right when you mention that it’s only natural we become overwhelmed/anxious as a result of the vast amount of things we’re responsible for each day. I am definitely one of those people who puts others first and I hate having to say no, so I end up saying yes and taking on more than I can handle sometimes. I’m glad to hear your husband is such a positive influence and encourages you to slow down a little, my boyfriend is the exact same way with me and it helps a lot!

      Reply
      1. Pearls and Lace

        It sounds like we’re very similar, you and I. I’m glad to hear your boyfriend takes the same approach as my husband; I think people like you and I need someone who reminds us to slow down and make time for ourselves!

        Reply
  10. jennacwest

    You are definitely not alone on this one! I have felt like that plently of times, so much so that I put everything I do for me aside. I loose track of my blog, eat horribly, and forget to put myself first. I strongly agree that we all need that special time to ourselves and we aren’t being selfish. We are doing ourselves and others a favor. Trust me, when I feel this overwhelmed I am not the best person to be around. Hang in there, girl.

    Jenna

    Reply
  11. fizzandfrosting

    I definitely feel this way from time to time. I think I’ve been better about managing stress lately. I’ve been trying to come home from work and completely unplug for an hour a two to recharge. It keeps me sane!

    Reply
  12. Elizabeth

    This sentiment has been echoed—but I feel the exact same way.
    All I do is always, always make lists—separate those lists into categories, and check each task off, one at a time.

    That being said, making personal time a priority is really important so I hope you can go to Anthro, buy a candle, draw a bath, and grab the new J Crew catalog (oh wow—did I just describe my evening??)
    But seriously-taking the time to relax is important!

    Best of luck!!
    Elizabeth

    Reply
  13. thestatestreetedit

    This post made me smile for some reason (despite it being about anxiety) 🙂 I think you should be so, so proud of the life you’re building and how much you do handle. It’s really inspiring to see you take on these topics and figure things out one step at a time. Wishing you less anxious days ahead and lots of fun with your puppy! 🙂

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      Jessica, that means so much! I’m glad to have things at least halfway figured out…part of the fun of growing up is learning as you go. My week has been anxiety free so far which is a huge relief. I’ll keep you posted on the puppy, I am so antsy to meet him this weekend!

      Reply
  14. sue maxwell

    I agree..you can get overwhelmed..and that is when you call your mom:) I worked today from 7:00am -7:30pm and I still have more schoolwork to do. I should be walking, paying bills, or cleaning the house. We females are good at getting things accomplished, but we do need to take moments for ourselves. Hence my nightly reading and as many walks in a week that I can do. You are doing great and I’m glad you are better this week! You are strong and capable! But do relax(love the picture, by the way)
    love,
    mom

    Reply
  15. anita

    Breathe girl! Haha or we can have virtual anxiety attacks together. I swear, mine is not going to go away until I find a job lol. It feels weird not going back to school!

    Reply
  16. xo Michelle

    “blog 3-4 times weekly, am trying to jumpstart a photography career, live in and help maintain a home with my boyfriend, am in the process of finding and adopting a dog with this boyfriend, manage my personal finances in addition to remembering to pay the gas, electric, water, internet, student loan, credit card and car insurance bills on time and a lot of other things I could list but you probably don’t want to read anyway. (Yes, the length of that sentence was intended to make you feel anxious and overwhelmed.) Being far away from home means I can’t just go see my friends and family, so instead I have to rely on weekly phone calls to feel connected to most of the important people in my life.”

    OH MY GOSH, we have basically the same exact life. I am far away from all my friends & family, want to have a career in photography, live and take care of my apartment w/my boyfriend, am the one dealing w/finances, etc.. The only difference is I work in Management (my degrees in Marketing tho!). I can totally relate to the feeling of being overwhelmed & feeling like you have taken on too much. It does get better though! The longer I juggle a lot of things (and really prioritize the most important) the easier it gets.

    Hang in there lady, it will get better 🙂

    -Michelle
    Fierce & Fashionable

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      Haha sounds like we are pretty much twins!! I’m glad to hear I’m not alone on this one. Honestly, I don’t know how anyone our age could go through life NOT feeling anxious with all of the crazy responsibilities we all have. Since writing this post I have been more actively trying to clear my mind of clutter and taking more time to relax after work and it has helped me SO much. Thanks for reading Michelle, can’t wait to hop on over to your blog to check it out!!

      Reply

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