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Brianna Bisogno Headshot

My Twenties in Five Stages or Less

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I have no idea what I am doing most of the time. I am just stating a truth. These past few years in my twenties have taught me some harsh lessons. Most of the time I feel like I am at the mercy of others and that nothing in my life is truly in my control. However, I still hold on to the hope that one person will give me a chance or maybe just a little luck will come my way. There have been many changes since I graduated college, but as much as I feel like things have changed, in ways they have also very much stayed the same. I have been reading about the Kubler-Ross model which describes the five stages of grieving death. Death is sometimes represented as a metaphor for change or rebirth. I realized the model was applicable to life in my twenties and I want to explain my thoughts and the reality of the situation.

Denial

I was still in college when I began my denial stage. College was a fortress with its own version of reality. I truly believed that nothing could actually happen to me. Life couldn't really get any worse than my repeated existential crisis. Reality was warped and I didn't have to account for anything I did. It was enough to tell my friends and family that I was pre-med and still considering medical school. They never asked me the worst/most annoying question you can ask anyone in their early 20s: What are you going to do with your life?

Reality: I graduated and ran off to Amsterdam still completely in denial.

Anger

Why me? I went to college. Why can't I get a job? Why doesn't anybody like me? Why all the rejection letters? Why didn't Amsterdam work out? I asked myself a lot of why questions which kept me at a stalemate. When you become so fixated on the "why" of things, it prevents you from doing anything about your predicament. "Why" can fill a person with a lot of anger. It chains you to a wall so that the only thing you have left to do is tear yourself apart.

Bargaining

My life sucks and I feel stuck, but I am going to do everything I can to make it better. I will give away a kidney or my first born child if things start to go my way. When it comes to bargaining I fear that us young adults have what I call "New Year's Resolution syndrome." We constantly make resolutions, promise to keep them, do well for two weeks, and eventually fail. Then we start all over again. It's a vicious cycle. We promise ourselves we will change and this time will be different. God if you do me this one favor, I promise I will never screw up again... and I'll go to church more. It turns out nobody was really listening as I pleaded and bargained away most of my internal organs and future children.

Depression

It turns out that bargaining is overwhelming. Nothing got better. Despite all my pleading, my life was still in turmoil. I would wonder what happened to the girl I used to be who actually cared and excelled in everything she did? At that point it didn't really matter. Fuck it. What exactly is the point of trying if you are going to face constant rejection? Depression can seem like a dark tunnel with no light at the end, but someone once told me you have to keep swimming. I don't know why you would be swimming in a dark tunnel, but it kind of makes sense.

Acceptance

I got tired of everyone telling me that I am better than this and that I am meant to do great things (blah blah blah). None of those compliments really mattered if I couldn't believe it. It took four years but I've finally accepted my situation: the good things and especially the bad things. And guess what... I'm still alive. The world didn't end. I had to learn that sometimes it's okay to ask for help. Acceptance and depression can fluctuate between one another. As difficult as it is, we must learn to trust ourselves and our abilities. Life is going to constantly throw challenges at us and the true test is not to falter and stand our ground.


Challenge accepted -- and keep swimming.