Quarterlife Crisis! What is It?
Your mid-twenties or early-thirties is usually when you have the desire to define yourself, set yourself apart from the rest. It is an age of utter confusion and internal turmoil, an age where you constantly contemplate what roads to take and who to travel with. Is it really true? Does something like a quarterlife crisis really exist? Maybe.
I recently came across the lyrics of the song "Twentysomething" by Jamie Cullum, and I was completely startled when I first read it. How is it possible to express a state of utter confusion with such accuracy? As the songs title suggests, a person going through a quarterlife crisis should be able to relate very deeply to the lyrics. What is so different and unique about being 20-something, and why have we not heard about this before? Does it only relate to the modern generation?
It's an age when we achieve complete freedom to our lives for the first time: financially and psychologically. With technology advancing at the speed of light, the physical distance of the world has been minimized, offering infinite opportunities. Suddenly, after following rules and guidelines for over two decades, we are set free to define ourselves and choose our paths. All the generic milestones have been accomplished, and the universe is our playground. We can define ourselves the way we want, achieve success to the limits we desire, and indulge in life to the extent our morals allow. There is no one to instruct us, no one to lead us anymore. It's like following a guide to the summit and then being left alone. Not only do we not know where to go now, we question why we are here in the first place.
For some, this is the most exhilarating period of their lives. They can finally pursue their passions and do what they've always wanted to do. For others, it is when they realize that the job they are in is nothing like they had imagined. They took the first job they were offered after graduation to pay off their loans without ever foreseeing the unhappiness this could cause.
And the misery begins. You dislike your job, stop looking forward to socializing with friends and colleagues, stop enjoying the things you used to enjoy, and life suddenly seems colorless and dreary. You have nothing to look forward to, nothing that makes your eyes sparkle or your tummy tingle, and you ask yourself: What happened to the excitement in life, the desire to fly and touch the sky?
OK, so things may not be the greatest right now, and life may not seem very appetizing, but there is always something you can do to get back on track, overcome the anxiety, and march towards the path of true happiness.
Know that you are not alone!
Though it may seem so, be assured that you are not alone. There are hundreds or even thousands of fellow 20-somethings out there who have no idea what to do with their lives. Though all your friends may be settling down, buying houses, and getting married, don't be afraid that you'll be left behind if you don't jump onto their boat. Everyone is different and life is not a race. It's the journey that matters. You need to ensure that yours encompasses what your heart really desires. Don't live in fear. Don't be like the bird who never risked flapping her wings but longed every minute of her life to touch the sky.
Whether this involves going on a short vacation or taking extended time off to travel the world or volunteer on the other side of the globe — do it! It will help you spend some time alone and give you an opportunity to know yourself better. Don't take the world's criticism to heart; you are not wasting time or being irresponsible. To be truly happy, you need to be at peace with yourself. You simply have to find your passion in life, though be aware that it will evolve, grow, and change with you over time. Doing a nine-to-five job that you already hate will only cause additional distress, lack of motivation, and ultimately depress you.
Though finding your passion is a time-consuming process, finding the thing that makes you jump out of bed every morning and look forward to your day is the key to happiness. You've simply got to love what you do to live a fulfilled life. Can you imagine a life where every day is a mystery, something you can't wait to solve or simply indulge in?
Try something new
You'll never know what you like if you don't venture out of your bubble and expose yourself to the world. Try different things and keep an eye on yourself. What did you enjoy? Was there something you were skeptical about or something that made you nervous? What made your eyes sparkle or what makes you look back and smile? Explore the world. You'll be surprised at what you discover in the process. You might share a smile or laugh until your eyes tear up, you might make everlasting friends or maybe even enjoy something you never thought you would. Step out of the safety net and dare yourself.
Don't jump into changing careers just yet
Sometimes, there is a tendency to hop back into school to get a different career. Maybe this one you will love. Maybe this education will not disappoint you. Try to see the vicious circle you may be repeating. Every 20-something longs for their college days. The carefree life, the fearless attitude, and being with friends again can be quiet alluring.
Ensure that you are going back to school for the right reasons. I personally believe that after obtaining a degree from college, changing careers may be easier than one thinks. Though additional education will be required for specialized fields, you may be able to get some experience in the new career as an intern or a volunteer with your current qualifications, giving you an opportunity to see how it is before you make a commitment.
A quarterlife crisis is just another phase of life, like the teenage years that have passed and the mid-life crisis that's to come. How you go through this phase is partially influenced by past choices, and decisions made here will greatly affect your life to follow. The harder you work to learn about yourself now, the easier you will float through the next phase of your life.
So buckle up and take control, experiment and make mistakes, and finally steer your life in the direction that truly makes you happy.