Welcome to the Quarter Life Crisis Club! Where you constantly feel like going through a downward spiral, lots of confusion, and a bazillion unanswered questions plague your every waking moment. According to Wikipedia the Quarter-life crisis is,
“a period of life usually ranging from the late teens to the early thirties, in which a person begins to feel doubtful about their own lives, brought on by the stress of becoming an adult. The term was coined by analogy with mid-life crisis.”
If you’re not sure you’re dealing with a quarter-life crisis, Buzzfeed has an article about it… But it’s pretty obvious if you’re dealing with it. Trust me, you’d know. If you’re constantly wondering what you’re doing, where you’re going in life, worrying about time, worrying about still not landing your dream job, worrying about finding someone to spend the rest of your life with because tick-tock time is gold and everyone else is having babies and getting married and you’re still in your pajamas at 2 o’clock in the afternoon eating apple pie with vanilla ice cream (I may or may not just have described myself there) — then yes, that is a quarter-life crisis — and welcome to the club.
A few weeks ago was when my quarter-life crisis really hit me hard and this impending doom shadowed over my life, a constant “What are you doing? You’re wasting time!” voice nagged at me and wouldn’t leave me alone. I found myself crying some nights and feeling depressed. I was in a battle between my wants and indecisiveness. I had written a set of goals at the start of 2014 of what I wanted my life to be like a year, 3 years, 5 years and 10 years from now… This list of goals really helped put things into perspective and helped motivate me to keep pushing. But what happened was that soon enough the pressure of wanting to attain these goals pressured me so much I ended up being unhappy and finding myself slowly having a change of heart. I suddenly wanted different things, and I didn’t know how to react to this sudden change of emotions. I was a mess for a few good days until I decided to put my foot down and do something about my quarter-life crisis instead of just letting it eat me alive.
Below are my top 5 ways of dealing with my quarter-life crisis:
1. Develop the “I will be okay” mantra. I know, it’s so cliche. Every time I go to someone with a problem and I get a, “you will be okay.” response, I want to punch them in the face. But it’s so goddamn true. I’ve gone through a lot of negative things in my life, and in the middle of the moment when you’re feeling all these intense emotions everything seems like it will never be okay — but that’s only because you’re caught up in the moment. Look back on the past events in your life, the time you had an earth shattering fight with a family member or your best friend, a bad breakup, the time your dog died — all horrible moments where you felt like everything was forever ruined — now look at how you are now. Aren’t you okay? Even better, aren’t you more than okay? These low moments exist to build you up. All my quarter-life crisis depressed days ended with me pushing forward and persisting to fight it. And here I am, writing this blog entry to help you fight it too. You will be okay.
2. Talk it out. When my quarter-life crisis would hit, I would message my loved ones and just let it all out — even if it didn’t make sense to them 100% of the time, they were there to listen and that’s all that really mattered. You need to unload all the emotions because carrying them by yourself will only drown you.
3. Keep busy. My friend, Jaya, told me this after we talked about my quarter-life crisis. And it’s true. If you keep busy doing work, your hobbies, just being productive in general this will keep away the nagging thoughts. It doesn’t mean you’re not dealing with your quarter-life crisis, in fact you’re dealing with it in a way of productiveness. When you’re productive, you’re paving the way into finding more about yourself — experiences, likes, dislikes, learning things, etc.
4. Take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. I’m here dealing with quarter-life crisis. I know just about 5 or more other people my age who also deal with it from time to time. It’s normal. It may freak you out at first, but there’s a handful of people who also have no idea what the fuck they’re doing with their lives. So don’t go thinking, “Well X has a baby and she’s married. I’m 24 and still single and the only thing that loves me is my cat, and that’s only when I feed her.” Don’t freak out. Everyone has a different path. We’ll be okay. We’ll get there eventually.
5. Do something, and remember the 3 E’s: Explore. Experience. Expand.
First, you gotta explore. Your quarter-life crisis usually brings the question, “What am I doing with my life/career/love life?” and the only way to find the answer isn’t by asking other people what you should do, it’s by exploring. If you’re not sure of the career path you’ve taken, consider dipping your toes into another field that interests you. If you’re unhappy with your love life or where it’s going, go out there and try to meet new people. Take up a new hobby, learn a new skill — the world is definitely your oyster. Make use of it.
Second, you gotta know that experience is your best teacher. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. More often than not, fear is the very first reason the quarter-life crisis bug even exists. Fear was the number one reason for me. Fear of not having enough time, mostly. And fear that I wasn’t going to be good enough. Life is full of experiences — good and bad ones. You must learn to use these experiences to help find ourselves, even if it’s one piece at a time.
Third, learn to expand yourself. When you step out of your comfort zone and see where that takes you, you have to do something you wouldn’t normally do, and live through it without regrets. This is something I recently have been trying to do, saying yes to things that would normally scare me. And so far, it has been very fruitful and has helped me push my own boundaries and made me realize there’s nothing to really fear. I expand myself by pushing my limits. If I used to do draft one blog post every other day, I’ll try drafting 2-3 instead. If I used to spend Php 3,000 of my paychecks, I try to spend less the next time so I can save more. If I think I can do 100% on projects, I push myself to do 200%, just because I can. It’s things like this which help shape us, and help us learn more about ourselves and get one step closer to whatever our goals may be.
And lastly a simple quote reminder from my favorite quarter-life crisis movie Reality Bites to wrap this entire post up:
Listen to Ethan Hawke, he knows what he’s talking about.