Have you heard the term quarter life crisis? No, this is not the same as the mid-life one where a 50 year old man buys a gun and a motorcycle and no this is not the one where you freak out because you are halfway to 100. This is the unspoken one that applies to everyone in the early to late twenties. This is the crisis that many of us undergo but have no idea that others are experiencing the same feeling.
I want to tell you that the struggle is real and you are definitely not alone.
Let’s take a step back. What exactly is the quarter life crisis? I define it as that period of time after graduation where everything seems to “plateau.” Your whole life prior, you have climbed this imaginary ladder that always has a next step and a regimented set of criteria. In middle school, you joined sports teams or organizations to bond and make new friends, and you looked forward high school. In high school, you studied hard so you could get good grades and get into your desired college, the next step. Then in college, you chose a major and enrolled in classes that struck an interest, guiding you to your career, the next step. And then you graduated, moved, and got a job.
But then what?
Our whole life, we have been programmed for the “what’s next” and all of our actions have been pre-determined to reach that higher step. So then after you settle into your new job and city, what’s next?
Very recently, in fact the last six months, I started feeling this way and asked myself that question. I was confused and disturbed. It was like this sticky uncomfortable feeling that I wanted to escape. What’s my purpose? What’s really meaningful to me? Is there more to life than going out on the weekends and getting drunk? Is that what an adult means, to wake up early, work an 8-5 job, go home to workout, eat dinner, go to bed, and repeat? It feels like we are on this hamster wheel of reality. Everything is the same. What’s so exciting?
I started getting worked up about feeling this way. I needed to figure everything out.
I became proactive, doing some research and self reflection. Step one included reading The Quarter Life Crisis: The Unique Challenges of Life in Your Twenties. Something that really stood out to me in the book was that we are in fact bombarded with SO MANY options, decisions, paths, etc after we graduate. We’ve always had these paved decisions and rights and wrongs to follow, but after we graduate, we reach the top of the ladder. We look up, and we see the sky. The “what’s next” is unlimited…it’s anyone and anything.
Researching the quarter-life crisis also allowed me to learn a lot more about myself and what I actually enjoyed. I realized I was doing a lot of things because I thought they were right or because they pleased other people, and as a result, I was not achieving my optimal level of happiness.
What did I learn?
I’m more introverted than extroverted. Many Fridays, I would much prefer to stay in and regroup from the week rather than force myself to go out and make conversation. A lot of social circumstances give me anxiety. I don’t enjoy small talk and it makes me uncomfortable. I really like alone time.
I also discovered that super minuscule things brought me happiness, like making my bed every morning, receiving my daily comics from my dad at 7am, or cooking dinner for my roommates and them loving every bite. I learned that I loved to write as a coping mechanism and way to understand my feelings. I started to realize what and who I really cared about and what kind of effort I needed to exert to maintain such things and relationships. I am finally at the point where I feel comfortable and confident enough to pave a positive lifestyle for myself where I rid the toxic things and people. The quarter life crisis has helped me become stronger, happier, and more self-aware.
Some tips I’ve learned through this journey?
1) Be in the moment. You cannot erase the past, predict the future, control the actions of others, or mind-read. You only can control yourself and all that you have is the present. Don’t waste that time.
2) Figure out who the people are that matter. Make an effort to stay in touch with the positive people in your life. You want to keep them.
3) Find out what you love to do. I had no idea until very recently that I love meditating, cooking, journaling, creating videos, etc. It’s really fun and refreshing to discover a new passion, and I have been able to find pleasure in things I used to overlook.
4) Do what you want. I’ve people pleased my whole life, and I’m finally starting to do me. It feels amazing and liberating. Yes, you can say no. You have to take care of yourself first, treating yourself as you would your best friend.
5) Every day is exciting! You have no idea who is going to walk into your life next, what new beautiful friendship you are going to form, what interesting piece of information you are about to learn. The list goes on.
I’m not sure if you have felt this way or if this seems like a bunch of gibberish. But I hope this was helpful 🙂