Ask The Therapist: “I am only 24, but it feels like I am losing time and need to have everything figured out about my life right this instant…it’s giving me anxiety…”

In 2016, the number of people estimated to be suffering from mental health issues like depression and anxiety amounted to roughly 1.1 billion. Since then, numbers have likely continued to rise. Moreover, studies have also shown women especially on average are a) more likely to suffer from mental health issues, and b) less likely to talk about them. The taboo in Pakistan surrounding depression and anxiety disorders only serve to aggravate the individuals suffering even more. For the women who cannot seek out full time therapy, we’ve enlisted the help of a trained therapist. You sent us in your questions – here are the answers!

“I’ve been feeling very lost in life recently. I am only 24, but it feels like I am losing time and need to have everything figured out about my life right this instant. The constant pressure I feel has been making me so anxious, but yet I can’t get myself to do anything to get out of this situation. I am not sure what sort of job I would be happy in, I feel disengaged with my friends recently and with everything else, I am just as confused. What can I do to break out of this and stop feeling this way?”

Shahrukh’s Response:

Dear Anon,

The feeling of being lost is one that I believe that we all can relate to – I mean I certainly can, and I know of several others who were in that space of finding themselves and discovering what they were meant to do. It can be really daunting, and at times even overwhelming because there might be a magnitude of thoughts and unanswered questions going through your mind in an endless loop. So, what can you do in a situation like this? Let’s talk about this further.

Acknowledging What’s Going On

It’s okay to feel what you’re feeling, Anon. Giving yourself space to be with that confusion and anxiety is part of the process. Be curious about what you’re experiencing, perhaps even exploring what might be going on there, asking yourself what it is that you’re worried about and working from there. What are you worried about?

  • What’s the rush? What makes you think that you’re losing time?
  • What would happen if you took some time to figure out what you want to do?
  • What are your options right now, and what is within your control?

Exploring Different Routes And Possibilities

With the abundance of jobs and possibilities, being in a place where you’re not sure of what you want to do is more common than you think. There are so many people out there who not only face this kind of confusion, but there are also others who find themselves switching career paths after some time, and that’s more than okay. Give yourself some time to answer the big questions by exploring and understanding what it is that you would like to do, and what aligns with your life goals and sense of self. Stay open and reflective during this process, nothing is irrelevant here. These are just some of the questions that might help you explore. I would also suggest putting them down on paper and creating a visual for yourself:

  • What am I passionate about?
  • What are my strengths and skills? (Am I more analytical? Am I more creative?)
  • How much money do I want to make?
  • What are my qualifications/educational background?
  • What are my long-term professional goals?
  • What are my values?

Apart from these questions, there are several quizzes online that might help you narrow down several career paths – you might find that some resonate more than others, and if they do, take note of them and look further into it until you’re down to a small number, and then take it from there.

Get External Help From A Career Counsellor Or A Mentor

Sometimes you may find yourself in a place where you need a little help in finding your way. Seeking out the guidance of a career counsellor or a mentor is a great route to take. If you’re looking for a good career counsellor, you can contact @beguidednow by Alizeh Atif. She has experience and specialises in academic, university and career counselling – she would be able to help guide you in getting a better understanding of what your options are and what is best suited for you in terms of a career path. 

On the other hand, you may even choose to seek out the help of a mentor – this could be a family member, a friend, sibling, an old teacher, anyone who you feel could help advise or guide you during this time. 

You’re Allowed To Talk About It!

Remember, Anon, there is nothing wrong with being where you are. Some people may have things figured out, but trust me when I say that many others haven’t and there is absolutely no shame in this. As we grow older, we also evolve as well as our values and interests, and you may find that what you wanted to do at 18 may not actually be right for you, so really, what you’re feeling is actually quite “normal”, if you think about it. You’re allowed to talk about what you’re going through – to your friends, to your family – anyone you feel comfortable around. 

Anon, I know what you’re feeling is really heavy, even confusing at times. Right now, perhaps it’s important to focus on the little steps rather than the big ones. You might not have all the answers right away, but what you can do is create small tasks for yourself to do through the week, and then take it from there. It can be something as simple as taking a quiz online about what career is right for you and so on. In the end, take it easy and be kind to yourself during this process. I hope that this article was helpful to you – I wish you all the best on your journey! Take care and stay in your power!

The above article is written by Shahrukh Shahbaz Malik who is trained in humanistic integrative counselling at CPDD in the UK and currently has her own private practice in Karachi. The views expressed in this article are those of one expert. They do not necessarily represent the views of Mashion, nor do they represent the complete picture of the topic at hand. This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment.

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