20-Something In Limbo: Take Small Steps and Avoid Comparisons

Q. I am 26. I still feel stuck in limbo.

I share my apartment with a roommate, but she treats it as a dorm room, while I want a respectable house with good furniture, clean, dishes done, etc. My job, while rewarding, offers no room for growth. I have a boyfriend who is a victim of the terrible economy so he is short on cash.  I really want to pursue a doctorate in psychology but it’s hard for me to motivate myself to take the GREs. It’s like I know the things I should be doing (gym, watching my diet, applying to schools, saving money) but it’s so hard to put them into practice.

I look at the women in my organization that I admire, and at my age, they were already on to their second career, won numerous prestigious scholarships and awards, traveled and spoke globally, and here I am at 26 stuck in this limbo. What would you say to someone in this position? Thank you. – 20-something


A. I’d say take small steps and stop comparing to anyone else.  Figure out what is most important to you and figure out the series of small steps that will get you there.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking other peoples’ lives are better/more productive but everyone hits their stride at different points, and has different things to contend with on the way.  Out of this morass of dissatisfaction, choose one or two priorities-and then build a plan.

The roommate thing is relatively easy to deal with…you can find other apartments and other roommates, just check to make sure they have the same priorities as you! – 40-something, marketing consultant, London (via NYC)


A. Your putting a lot of pressure on yourself at 26. To think that everyone else is so accomplished and has amounted to something and you are in dead water is hard. You’re only 26. How many 20-somethings have won awards? Don’t be so hard on yourself! Consider a therapist if you can afford it.  Maybe you don’t have a good circle of friends. Try surrounding yourself with friends who are caring and supportive. Good friends will cheer each other on and push each other. – 40-something, technology, business development, NYC


A. If you are surrounded so many amazing people why is your job so unrewarding?  Ask some of them to mentor you. Try to prioritize what’s important to you. If it is going back to school … just focus on studying for that. You might meet some interesting people if you get involved in a study group that could spur on your passion and help you motivate to do it. Or take a adult education class in psychology to see if it is your passion! Start with one thing. – 40-something, PR/Marketing Executive, Chicago, IL


A. It sounds like you have some people you look up to at work. You need to get a mentor or someone that you can talk to. With your roommate, try talking to her. Everything comes back to  clear direct communication. Confront her or get a new roommate. Have an adult conversation. If it doesn’t work then start setting a time to move out. It’s hard when you are in your twenties to think you need to accomplish everything at once. But it’s a process. Make a list of what you want and then rank what is most important to you and start with the top of the list. Give yourself some time on the others!  – 40-something, entrepreneur, NYC

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