THE COLLECTIVE: Navigating A Quarter Life Crisis
The Collective is a series wherein I ask some of my favourite bloggers and online writers to weigh in on the big questions challenging us all. Its first installment was about handling our inner critics; this time I asked about quarter life crises... and I love, love their answers.
As a youngin', I never really had crazy high standards for my career. Rather than setting unrealistic goals such as becoming a medical doctor or lawyer, I thought becoming a pharmacist or marine biologist was a much more achievable goal, y'know? Unfortunately, high school revealed that chemistry and math wasn't my strong suit (#recessiveAsiangeneproblems), and back to the drafting board I went. I ended up completing my degree in the social sciences, though figuring out what to do with my degree and life after school was the real question decades of schooling hadn't prepared me for.
Despite our individual education and experiences, knowing that we're all undergoing a quarter life crisis is comforting. (#teameffort)
Unfortunately, I feel like the only way to get through this is by living out our daily lives, becoming more self-aware by (re)learning/exploring our own personal interests and establishing new goals, and trying to make the best decisions we can, even if it means taking a few steps backwards.
While I enjoyed my four years of studying anthropology, I knew it wasn't a field I was going to pursue as a career towards the end of my study. Strangely, blogging has introduced me to career fields I've never considered, and I'm actually heading back to school in January for marketing. It's no marine biology, but it feels great to have a goal/purpose again. Kids, don't be afraid to make major life mistakes, because you never know where life will take you anyways. Figure it out as you go. Explore your interests and act on them. Don't set your expectations too high. Enjoy the ride.
When you’re in your mid 20’s people expect you to have things figured out and generally have your shit together. For me that definitely wasn’t the case, I could write a long list of the advice I would give to my 25 year old self! I would tell her to be kinder to herself, that it’s okay to make mistakes and you can’t please everyone. Only now in my 30’s I feel more confident and comfortable in my own skin and happy with who I am.
So don’t worry if you feel like you don’t know where your life is going, enjoy the journey and surround yourself with people who make you feel good. “Your life is your story. Write well. Edit often.”
According to the internet, Millennials are viewed as the Peter Pan generation, putting off the real world and suffering quarter-life crises from the stress of adulthood. I think this is more to do with the fact we’ve grown up being told we can do whatever we want to, are expected to achieve all the things our parents have, but economic instability in the world has rather thrown all that into a spinning mess.
We also, for better or worse, are able to share the highlight reel of the best bits of our lives with the click of a button, allowing us to compare ourselves all the more easily with one another.
Social media has so many great aspects to it, but it can amplify all the insecurities we feel about our lives. Everyone knows that Instagram is only a moment in time, a brief often carefully curated shot, but when you’re in the midst of a quarter-life crisis it’s not always easy to engage the rational part of your brain.
It gets better though, and easier. As I get older I’m learning to worry less about the stupid stuff. Instead I try to focus on all the little steps and goals I’ve achieved over the year. We all move at our own pace and that’s cool, and ultimately it’s all about keeping things in perspective as much as possible.
I might be one of the only people to write as an advocate for the quarter life crisis.
Let me explain... 2016 saw me (temporarily) end my 7 and a half year relationship, it saw my parents go through one of the toughest years financially they've ever been through, saw my grandmother start losing more and more of her personality to dementia - it was basically a quarter life crisis wrapped up in a bow. Having said that, I feel like I've existed in a sort of prolonged quarter-life crisis for several years now - one in which the questions: 'What am I doing with my life?' and 'Why aren't I pursuing my dreams?' and 'Who do I really want to be in the world?' have run through my mind more often than I might like. It's difficult, this process of becoming, and (for me, at least) it has been wrought with days where I've felt incapable of dealing.
The thing about a quarter life crisis is that it is just that - a life crisis. So you can either get busy living through it, or - well, I'm sure the other option is clear.
When I look back at this time in my life, I'm sure I'm sure I will cringe at the thought of some of the decisions I made, and wish that I hadn't been through the pain I had to feel to start emerging from the other side. But what I'll measure the most about this time is how much I have learned about myself through this. How hard it was at first to have frank conversations with myself, and own up to my shortcomings and misgivings - harder still to give myself love. The slow, grateful release of coming home to myself, the rediscovery of who I once was, and how she can fit into this new adult life of mine.
For that, and for so many other reasons, I recommend a quarter life crisis. If you think you can be happy without one, then all the more power to you, but if you feel like you might be approaching one, or even enduring one right now? Hold on. You're stronger than you think, and you will come through this. And when you do, you'll be ready for whatever life demands of you next. This is the feeling of you growing - uncomfortable, painful, but essential. Lean into it.
What is your advice to anyone going through a quarter life crisis? Come to the comments and share your thoughts, I would love to hear them. What would you like to be discussed in the next The Collective post? It would be great to hear what you want to see!