Ugh – the inevitable quarter life crisis. I got through the beginning of my 25th year with no inkling of a crisis and assumed (wrongly) that I was in the clear. Before I knew it, my life became a blur of constantly questioning myself, crazy anxiety and a big loss of confidence in myself.
While I’m still coming out on the other side of my “crisis” and still have my fair share of anxiety ridden days, I also appreciate this time of my life for what it is: a lesson and motivator for me to continue growing and move onto the next chapter.
The bad news? You’re definitely going to go through your quarter life crisis. There’s no escaping it. You are a quarter of the way through your life, and that fact alone pretty much guarantees that you’ll end up reflecting on your life on SOME level in the near future.
The good news? You aren’t alone. Even if your friends don’t show it, they’re probably going through the exact same struggles you are. Everyone reevaluates their life at some point and here are just a few ways you can get through it:
We take breathing for granted because it’s automatic. We don’t have to consciously tell ourselves to breathe, and therefore don’t pay attention. But when you stop, count your breaths and really focus, you naturally slow down and give your brain something else to focus on besides the black cloud of doom you’ve created for yourself. Just stop and breathe when it all feels like too much.
Know what you like to do, and do it.
I truly believe that one of the biggest reasons my quarter life crisis arrived was due to the fact that I was ignoring my creative side. I convinced myself that photography and arts weren’t worth creating if I couldn’t or didn’t make money doing it, or that I was a failure because I’m not a full time photographer like I always expected I would be by this time in my life. It was an excuse to quit and take the easy route, but when you’re passionate about something and DON’T do it, you will feel unfulfilled. So, carve out some time each day, week, or month to do something that makes you feel really happy. Get more of that stuff in your life! It’s hard to feel sad and doubt yourself when you’re spending a lot of time doing things that make you happy.
Push yourself to try something new.
I’ve talked a lot about comfort zones and how it’s hard for me to get out of mine. I love control and having a good idea of the outcome of different situations, but my best memories are always the ones in which I felt pretty anxious/excited/scared beforehand and exhilarated after. Trying a new activity you aren’t used to is such a good confidence builder, and consistently trying new things may lead you on a path you never expected.
Talk to someone, or a lot of someones.
I think a lot of the time, we already know deep down what new direction we desire to take in life or which changes we’re ready to make. But we need validation, or someone else’s confidence in us in order to see it clearly. Having a face to face meeting with someone and just laying it all on the table is scary, but so worth it. If you can, reach out to someone you admire or a mentor. I reached out to a friend from my zumba class and it was such a big step forward. It helps if you talk to someone who doesn’t know you inside and out as they can look at your situation more objectively, but you should also talk to your mom, your relatives, your SO, your friends or whoever will listen.
Set a goal for yourself.
For me, that goal was paying the rest of my student loan off within a year. I made a plan and put a lot of focus on achieving that goal. The reward was greater than being debt free – I’ve also gained a lot of confidence in myself that can translate into other areas of my life where I need that confidence. Set a goal for yourself and throw your efforts into achieving it.
Remember where you are relative to the rest of your life.
People talk up this decade of your life in the same way everyone said “enjoy college while it lasts, those are the best years of your life!” So, when you’re halfway through the other supposed best years of your life, it can be easy to forget that you have a great lifetime ahead of you. Sure, you need to lay some groundwork for yourself in your 20s, but there is no rulebook stating that you must have your whole life perfectly mapped out and planned before your 30th birthday. Your life and hobbies and interests can change at anytime, so extensive planning can be counterproductive.
Remember that we are all winging this.
Why do we all put so much pressure on ourselves to figure everything out right here right now? It’s an impossible goal and you’ll never meet it. Neither will I. We are all in this together. We’re all confused, we all question our choices, and we all want to find meaning in the things that we do day in and day out. But there comes a certain point in which you’ve just got to let go and fly by the seat of your pants sometimes, just like everybody else.
And finally, let go of the need for perfection.
There is a lot of appeal in the idea that you can wait to start something until everything is just so. But the problem with this idea is that everything will never be “just so” because perfect isn’t attainable. Once you reach your “perfect” I can guarantee you’ll find something else in need of adjustment. Chasing perfection is nothing more than procrastination. Trust yourself and your plans now, and let your heart lead you too.
Like getting your wisdom teeth out, your quarter life crisis is practically a guarantee. But in the end, you’ll know you’re better for it, and eventually time will fade the pain, confusion and anxiety. Cheers to getting unstuck, and moving onto new things. You got this.