06 2 / 2012

Kicking the Quarter-Life Crisis in 5 steps

The older I get, the more I tend to realize that I have my go-to stock of jokes to use on people when I meet them for the first time. Usually it’s a surefire combination of self-deprecation, sarcasm and a smidgeon of racism (only against my own race… I mean, c’mon, isn’t that one of the perks of holding that membership card?). 

The one I used to say all the time is that I was quite precocious in my own way: I started my quarter-life crisis at the tender age of nineteen. Since the dawn of my college life, I had always been riddled with a sort of angst. Similar to many, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. But for me, it wasn’t just a mere concern…it was an all out sort of silent panic that raged in my head.

Sooooo much angst…yes, yes…I know.

Of course, now that I’m well into my late-twenties, that preciousness has slowly evolved into more of an emotional developmental issue. (Did I mention that I have a knack for hyperbole?)

I’ve read all sort of things online and heard all the same things about the quarter-life crisis. It’s a rather uncomfortable time where you are suddenly an adult, yet still feel the remnants of that irresponsible, carefree college youth dependent upon free pizza night held by some desperate organization on campus. (For the record, I still love free food).

But then, I started reflecting upon the things in my life. I realized that in some way, I’ve started to kick the quarter-life crisis. Yes, there are days that I still feel a squirm of panic because I don’t know what I want to do with the rest of my life. But lately, I realized… it’s okay. Life changes, and that’s the fun of it. And the quarter-life part is probably one of the best parts (if not THE best part)!

I can’t say that this will work for all, but I hope that it may work for some out there who are still feeling that gnawing panic in the pit of their stomach.

Also, I realize my headline is a bit misleading. These aren’t steps at all, it’s just a list. HA. Lesson one: BE PREPARED FOR ANYTHING. No I kid, here’s the list….

1. Count your blessings. I won’t get all “Chicken Soup for the Soul” but I sincerely believe in this. There are so many people out there in need…and if you’re reading this post, you have access to the Internet and electricity. Or a mobile phone. (Or you have me as a friend, ha!)

2. Do NOT compare. That’s one of the things that I found myself always doing… and sure enough, afterwards I would feel so very low. I read this great piece from Rev. James Martin and he put it so succinctly: compare and despair. In the age of over-sharing, people always tend to put these awesome things about their lives everywhere. But you don’t know the full story. So don’t compare.

3. Play the “what if worst scenario” game… and realize the result is not that bad. As weird as it is, I always play the worst case scenario game in my head, and somehow I am comforted by it. What if I lost my job? What if my boyfriend broke up with me? What if I never write that award-winning great American novel? What if, what if…life will go on and it will be okay. 

4. Be inspired by people around you. My cousin recently started her fashion blog. She expressed trepidation at first, but soon said she was doing it because she just loves it. Other people I know are taking risks and pursuing their passions. It made me realize something too…I love writing. So why wasn’t I doing it? I may not have any readers, but who cares? Why not write what I want, and write every day? Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours to get great at something. Even 30 minutes hammering out a blog post is akin to my daily mental sit-ups. Not always pretty or fun, but good in the long run.

5. Be a work in progress. I procrastinate. I am scatter-brained. And, I lack confidence. And more than anything, I’m not okay with it. It’s an uphill battle to change yourself and to fix your flaws, but I’ve realized that I should try and even if I don’t always succeed, I won’t beat myself up over it. I can always just try harder and see how far I’ve come versus looking ahead and getting discouraged with the many miles ahead of me. 

Even though there are the downs and the ups and it’s not as easy as it sounds… hindsight is 20/20. I guess finally understanding and almost kicking this crisis means that I’m getting wiser. Or…maybe just old. But I’m okay with that.