How To Respond When Someone Judges You & You Feel Like You're Not Where You Want To Be In Your Life

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Self

It should be a law that no one is allowed to bring up what you’re doing with your life. Like asking how much somebody weighs, it should be taboo.

What do you say when you don’t know what TO say? “I am holding onto a little extra holiday unrecognized potential right now, I’d prefer not to answer.” 

It’s nuts how embarrassed we feel for not knowing what we are supposed to be doing with our lives. Shouldn’t we be proud that we didn’t just settle for anything? Shouldn’t a little trial and error be encouraged?

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I had been waiting tables for a few years. This isn’t what I saw myself doing at that point in my life, but it paid the bills and I loved the people I worked with. When people would come out to eat, they would sometimes ask me, “So what do you do?”. I feel like the answer should have been obvious. “I do this. I bring you Spaghetti.” But they persist. “No, like what else? Are you in college?” and then I have to say “No, I’ve finished college” and then they want to know, “Why don’t you go out and get a 'real' job?

I have a job. This is my job. My job that pays all of my bills. That affords me a flexible schedule. That introduced me to my amazing friends. I went out and got a job and this is my job.

What they mean to ask is why don’t you go out and get a career? They want to know why a young woman, who is seemingly well spoken and polite, who is someone they seem to want to root for, isn’t doing something… more. They wonder why she’s not working in a midtown office somewhere in a pencil skirt asking someone two years younger than her why the documents haven’t made it on her desk yet, or mindlessly typing numbers into a spreadsheet, telling an intern that he got her coffee order wrong but saying she’ll drink it anyway and feeling good about the nice way she treated them.

Maybe I can be a spreadsheet lady. Maybe I’m supposed to be a pencil skirt wearing document reviewer. Maybe I’m supposed to be something else entirely. But I haven’t figured that out yet.

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This is a love letter to all of the people out there who aren’t where they want to be in their lives right now. Maybe you haven’t figured out what you should be doing yet. Maybe you know, but you’re not ready to dive in. Maybe you have been trying to break your way into a career and it just hasn’t happened for you yet. I understand.

I know the feeling. I know how it feels when someone you haven’t spoken to in a while asks you what you are up to. I know the feeling of your skin trying to crawl inside of your bones so maybe they won’t recognize you and walk away. To listen to them go on and on about a job that they just stared that they love — a job that pays them three times what you’re making. How much their boss loves them, and how important they think their work really is.

I know what it feels like to have nothing to say. I know the throbbing ears of shame. I know the prickly skin of anxiety. I know the lock-kneed dizziness of self-doubt. I know how it feels to want to be anywhere else in the world besides answering that question.

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People always say it doesn’t matter what other people think of us, and that is true. In theory. It is the truest thing ever said. But in practice, it really matters what other people think of us. It matters if they think were smart enough, or cool enough. It matters to us that they don’t pity us. It matters that people we like, people we don’t like, people we know and people we don’t, don’t look down on us.

It is important to us what others think of us. It shouldn’t be, but it is.

I don’t know how to not care what about what other people think about you. You always will. But what I suggest is to start caring more about what you think of you.

If you are at a job that pays your bills, where you work with your friends, where you enjoy going to work, then what’s the problem, right? Think about the part of your job that makes you happy. Really focus on it. Even if it’s a job you hate, do work you are proud of. Be the best server at your restaurant, be the friendliest receptionist at your office, be the best spreadsheet filler-outer in the game, be the most meticulous document review that has ever worn a pencil skirt. Do work you are proud of and you will find that you will be proud of your work.

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It’s easy to push aside the feelings of disappointment in ourselves when we’re checking off boxes.

If my bills are getting paid, what does it matter what kind of job I have? But you know deep down if that is something that bothers you. You may push those feelings away, because its scary to change. It is scary to leave your friends. It is scary to put yourself on the line. We like the idea of changing ours lives, but we don’t want to put the work in.  We think it is better to live our lives in limbo, then to really go for the things we want. We see our dreams as dangerous and we think we can put them off until our rent is paid. But rent is due every month.

So what am I doing with my life? I am trying. Today I am trying to produce work I am proud of. Today I am trying to learn to accept that where I am is where I need to be right now. Today I am trying to not to care about what other women my age are doing.

Today I am trying to make a better life for myself. Today I am trying my best. And that is something that I am proud of.

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Kaitlin Kaiser is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture and relationship topics.