I have a 20-something brain

For the past couple of weeks, I have found myself barely able to keep food down.

I vomited, inexplicably, last Thursday. In the middle of each meal, I have to stop eating, faced with another wave of nausea. This morning, I’m pondering whether to drink my coffee and attempt to get on with my day or go back to sleep to ease the discomfort.

I know the source of my physical pain is anxiety. A big, overwhelming pile of it. About finding friends, navigating this town correctly, finances, performing well in my new job, hearing word about the other job I interviewed for, finding a lasting and meaningful career, feeling content, maintaining intellectual drive, making the most of things, staying in contact with the ones I love, learning an instrument, singing again – getting to a point where I feel like a success rather than a confused, dead-beat, disappointment.

I know that nothing is resolved by worrying. I know that my current circumstances are much more positive than they could be. I know that nothing is actually wrong. But as much as I tell myself that, as much as it has become my internal chant – my prayer – the physical signs of stress won’t leave me.

I read an article this morning about the developing, 20-something brain, which relieved my mind (to some extent), though not my stomach. The adult brain doesn’t fully develop until the mid to late 20s and there are much higher rates of anxiety, suicide, and general recklessness among early 20-somethings than in most other age groups, likely due to increased expectations to succeed as a well-formed individual in adult society while still trying to connect and disconnect synapses, take in information, and, in a cognitive sense, find oneself.

There is a scientific and social cause for anxiety at my age. But it doesn’t make it easier to bear. I face my own high expectations and negative self-talk on a daily basis. It’s time to practice being content with daily success, no matter how small. Of course, saying it and doing it are quite different things.

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