To 20-Something Panic

Contributed by Danielle Clampett

Hi, my name is Danielle and I suffer from twenty-something panic. *Starts hyperventilating*

It’s real, it’s scary and the panic attacks happen far more often than I’d like to admit. For those who are lucky enough to not know what twenty-something panic is, let me fill you in: Twenty-something panic is the feeling of anxiety or panic because you feel like your life is not progressing as quickly as your peers.

I am a planner. For as long as I can remember, I had a list in my mind about how my life would play out. Finish college, land my dream job, get engaged to the love of my life (who doesn’t exist, btw) buy our first home together, get married, travel and pop out three kids by my early thirties. It pains me to even write this because it couldn’t be any further from what actually happened; but it also isn’t what I truly want. Well, at least not right at this moment.

Being in your twenties is difficult for so many reasons. First of all, no one tells you what happens when you graduate from college and don’t have an internship, job or graduate school lined up. [Insert me panicking because I didn’t have any of the above] So I decided I was going to take some time for myself, continue to work my retail job and save up my money and maybe travel a bit. Because I am a creature of habit, I got extremely comfortable in my role at work. As the years went by (three to be exact) when I hadn’t found my purpose in life I really struggled as to why it seemed to come so easy to others but I couldn’t even think about the future without having a breakdown.

As if feeling lost and confused wasn’t overwhelming enough, social media is a constant reminder that I’m not any closer to where I want to be in any area of my life. Every day a friend's status pops up in my feed announcing that they're engaged, married, pregnant or landing their dream job with a massive raise. And don’t even get me started on those Pinterest wedding boards. Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely happy for them, but it’s difficult not to feel discouraged.

Throughout my twenties I’ve also learned that the large circle of friends you once had, becomes a really small line of friends. That saying quality over quantity, so so true. I’ve surrounded myself with friends who are positive, motivated and chasing their dreams. They've really become my inspiration.

I’ve done a lot of soul-searching this past year and it took some life-altering events to force me to take the steps to make these much-needed changes. (Make it easier for yourself and don’t wait till you get to this point) I’d like to think the couple of come-to-Jesus moments I’ve had have given me some clarity. So, I got myself in gear, figured out what work environment I could see myself in, researched different job options and reached out to people in the field. I’ve found my dream profession and am currently applying to get my Master’s Degree. I also start my new job in two weeks. (No more retail!!! 🙌🏻)

Change is scary, but SO necessary! let me give you some advice that might help calm some of those nerves:

  1. Stop focusing on things that are out of your control — even though it's so easy to get frustrated and discouraged. Find ways to let go of things that are negatively affecting your life. For me, kickboxing has become my second favorite form of therapy. (Retail therapy will always be my number one) 
  2. Stop comparing yourself to those around you. Be happy for those around you who achieve their goals and know that when the time is right, you will too.
  3. Roll with the punches. The choices you make in your twenties don’t define your whole entire life. I tend to be "a bit dramatic" and think anything that makes me feel uneasy is the end of the world. Well friends, I’m still here today, so clearly it’s not.
  4. Your twenties is the perfect time to be selfish. Although I want marriage, children and a house with a white picket fence, I’ve recently discovered how much I love to travel. I’m also going back to school and if I wanted to, I could pack up my car and move across the country because I only have myself to think about. (Though I’d miss my mom too much though and obviously the west coast is the best coast) So take this time to do all the things you enjoy. Go to that concert, take the time off work and travel. FIND YOURSELF!

My advice to you is to work hard for what you want. I do believe that things happen for a reason and what's meant to be will be. (blah blah blah, cliché, cliché) But you can't sit on your ass and wait for things to happen — make them happen! I'm sure your thirties, forties and beyond will bring you a new set of challenges — and we'll deal with those when we get there.


Do you ever get sad for no reason, distance yourself from friends and social events or feel like you're not good enough? Stay tuned as we tap into the depths of our souls tomorrow to talk about depression as Mental Health Week continues.

The song that helped me get through some of the lows and enjoy some of the highs is by one of my all time favorite bands, Stickfigure. Enjoy and don't forget to breathe! -DC