At almost 25, my former life is falling away - how can I cope better?
September 20, 2016 5:09 PM   Subscribe

I've lost friends to life changes and two people to bereavement. Childhood is officially over, adulthood is here to stay. How do I find some comfort?

I want some advice on how to cope with what feels like a seismic life shift and a sequence of losses.

Two grandparents have passed away with very quick succession of each other and it's strange to watch the last remnants of my childhood literally disappearing. Furthermore, I feel I have lost two significant friendships (both about a decade long) over the past year (and partially lost one other to a toxic relationship she won't leave and another friend seriously struggling with a break up).

The second friendship loss is the guy I posted about nearly a year ago. I admitted I had feelings to him and he said no, while desperately trying to cling to the friendship. I have recently discovered he has now moved out of the country with the girlfriend he has remained with.

I think, for some reason, this is made worse by the fact that I split up with someone who I recently found out moved back to his home country. So I've been dealing with the loss of that short relationship (despite knowing it was not right for me and knowing he is literally gone).

On the other side, I have deepened friendships with a few people I have known for several years, people who have expressed how much they value me as I do them. I also meet and befriend new people effortlessly and quickly.

I moved home after a stint abroad about a year ago (mainly to spend time with my sick relative) but have failed to put down roots in a significant way. I miss the country I was living in & am now working towards returning there - but a part of me wonders if I should be putting more effort into putting down roots and finding a partner instead? In some ways I think it might help, and in others, I don't really want one. The sting of loneliness can be tough sometimes and I occasionally wonder if I might regret travelling around so much later...
posted by Ariel432 to Human Relations (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
part of me wonders if I should be putting more effort into putting down roots and finding a partner instead?

What about putting down roots (or not) and finding yourself instead? Learn more about who you are and what you want and need in life. Do you have a hobby or activity you enjoy? Something you've always wanted to learn or do? Now is the time. It's so good to spend some time alone after a breakup - I see you're going through that in addition to the other losses. I'm so sorry you are going through a lot of loss and in various forms, that really is hard. Taking some time for yourself now will probably be very good. Take care. Do a lot of self care, hot baths, read comics, do new things that make you feel nice. Now is the time for you.
posted by sockermom at 5:19 PM on September 20, 2016 [10 favorites]

You're 24, you don't need to put down roots yet. Focus on your deepened friendships, travel if you can, work on moving to wherever you want to move, experience life so that when it's time to settle down, you'll know what you want and where you want to be.
posted by Huck500 at 5:20 PM on September 20, 2016 [4 favorites]

I'm so sorry - it sounds like you've had a lot to process lately.

Where to get comfort - I'd say lean on the friends you care about. Allow yourself to grieve your losses and disappointments. Accept that it will in fact feel crappy for a while and just love yourself through the crap. If you have access to therapy, that can be another way to help deal with grief.

Whether to stay or go - even with more details, I'm not sure anyone here could tell you. If you go and decide it was the wrong thing, you can come back. If you put off traveling when you're young, it's hard to do it when you're older. At least, that's been my experience.
posted by bunderful at 5:22 PM on September 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

I don't want to tell you how to feel, but it might be more helpful to frame this less as "my life is falling away" and more as "things change".

It's a bittersweet thing to go through, but it's something that never entirely stops. I think we do people a disservice by raising them to believe that you have 18-22 years of growth and change and molding into The Person You Will Be, and then you jump out into the Real World where everything is meant to crystallize for the next 50+ years until you die. That's just not how it works. You are going to go through huge life changes pretty much constantly forever. This isn't a destruction of your childhood life, it's just life.
posted by Sara C. at 5:25 PM on September 20, 2016 [15 favorites]

First thing, when my dad passed away, I went to a shop to buy a suit for the funeral and the owner said, "That's life." At first, the comment seemed a little rude but the more I thought about it, the more comforting it was. Second, 25 is not really half-way between 20 and 30. Stop worrying about getting all your ducks in a row; it'll only lead to bad choices.
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:32 PM on September 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

Loss is a big part of life, and figuring out how to handle different kinds of loss in ways that work for you is one of the big struggles of existence. This really isn't the kind of thing people usually have a lock on at 25, let alone 40 or 60, so please don't feel like there's some kind of way you "should" be feeling or steps you "should" be taking. Everybody's different.

I'm lucky enough to know a lot of frequent travelers and citizens of the world of many different ages. I don't know if I've ever met anyone who regrets traveling a lot when they're young and capable. In this instance, if you're not strapped for cash and have the will, I think you can have your cake and eat it too. Put down some roots and travel, put down roots in your new place, repeat. These days it's a lot easier to keep up with people long-distance. I think you should focus on your newly deepening friendships and make sure that you have digital ways of keeping in touch. Don't keep yourself from being with people because you're going to travel away from them soon - that just makes your time with them more valuable.

Of course it's also perfectly okay if you decide to make a stable home for yourself, wherever you are, and stay there. Plenty of people do that too - they have some of their first big adult losses, and decide to stay put and find happiness where they are. There's plenty of logic to this. But it sounds like where you are right now isn't where you'd like to call home. You don't need to figure this out right now. You have lots of time to discover where home is for you.

As for comfort and coping right this moment, nobody will be able to tell you what will work for you. What do you find valuable? Comforting? What brings you peace? For me, experiencing beauty (inspiring art, delicious food, wonderful music, an opera, the ocean at dawn) combined with doing things to help others is what is guaranteed to give me a boost, big enough usually to snap me out of a depressive episode. But it's so hard to coordinate this because of my mental health issues. My depression is chronic and lifelong (and medicated).

Your question sounds like you're not currently depressed, but you could be heading towards an episode of it. If you have access to a therapist or counselor, a couple sessions of talking out your state of mind might really benefit you. They can also give you suggestions for coping and comforting techniques to try, based on what you tell them about yourself.

What will work for you isn't what will work for me. It sounds though like a romantic partner isn't what will help - and wanting someone just so they'll help you not be lonely and grieving is a bad reason to want someone. There's a whole world of other things out there to try, though. Focus inward for a bit and try to find something that gives you some happiness. It won't take away your feelings of loss, but it will help you counterbalance them.
posted by Mizu at 11:27 PM on September 20, 2016

Try to find things that bring you self-worth. It's true that you just keep losing people as you get older, but it's also true that you pick up new ones along the way. "Putting down roots" is something that for most people happens organically, through religion, relationships, political/cultural/social activity etc. Instead of aspirations, you could think of putting down roots/finding a partner as, like death, the likely-inevitable consequences of a life well-lived.

Sorry for your loss.
posted by aspersioncast at 6:05 PM on September 28, 2016

« Older Free cross-platform webcam baby monitor   |   How do you move beyond betrayal? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.