The metaphorical Quarter Life Crisis (QLC) is becoming chic and the in-thing-to-do, if you haven’t noticed.
The other day I was commencing my very last first day of school and feeling positive about my life . I am teaching a solid number of (somewhat decent) yoga classes, barista-mastering/slaving, and getting my intellect on x10 (actually I’m slowing becoming the smartest girl in class. Which is fun.) I truly have no complaints in life right now. But this made me think of where I was a year ago…. I was at my rock bottom. I was miserable, stressed, not in school, living at home, unemployed, and the future was looking grim. I starved myself mentally and physically, and overall became a hot mess of instability. I had no direction or purpose. I was lost. I’m not saying this will be my last or worst rock bottom, but so far, it is my rock-est of bottoms yet. I like to think of it as my quarter-life-crisis. It’s real, and it happens to real people. In fact, the more people I start deep intellectual conversations with (usually at really convenient times like while they’re ordering coffee or while were inebriated…), the more I realize that almost everyone is going through a little bit of a rock bottom/quarter-life-crisis right now. Being a twentysomething is hard and not as glamourous as we thought it would be. Post-graduation life is rough (from what I hear…). We’re all either trying to figure out who we are or what the hell we are “supposed” to do with the rest of our lives. We have debt, high expectations, and are stuck between youth and adulthood.
While looking back on where I was a year ago, I realized how thankful I am for my low points. They are an absolutely necessary part of our existence. It’s a known fact that you can’t have the good unless you have the bad. The bad makes the good look sooooo good. And really, unless you die or contract an incurable STD or something, the bad is not so bad in the scheme of things. It just appears to be terrible because it’s happening in the moment and sometimes there is no end in sight. When I was at my lowest, I literally thought it would be this miserable for the rest of my life. Situations and phases always seem permanent, but in reality it’s the opposite. Things like not having a job, being financially unstable, going through a divorce or a bad break-up, the death of a family member (or pet. I hope my dog stays alive forever…. cryogenically frozen? perhaps.), or an overall sense of direction are all temporary and transient. While it may sting and be uber-painful during the crisis, life is ever-changing and nothing truly remains the same. There is serious light at the end of the tunnel (not just a metaphor).
So, how do you know if you are having a QLC? You show signs of one or more symptoms below:
– You feel like your life choices are suffocating you like a Stage 5 clinger.
– You have a low paying internship in an marketing firm when your major was in Tambourine Beat Making (it’s a real major) and you literally hate all advertisements.
– You have the strong urge to give away all of your material things and start a new life in Thailand.
– You have no common ground with your “friends” but refuse to search for a new crew.
– You binge drink more than what is socially acceptable (my standard is 2-3 times per week, any more is approaching a real issue….).
– Happy hour has turned into an unhappy hour of complaining about your life and sighing deeply while staring out of the window.
– You continuously compare yourself to your Facebook friends who are married with children on the way, and wonder what’s so wrong with your anti-monogamous lifestyle.
– You cry to most Adele songs (could be a sign of pregnancy, also.)
– You have completely lost touch with what your passions are and what truly makes you happy.
– You comfortably/casually call your parents your “roommates” to others in conversation.
I know that you shook your head to at least one of those. If not, then I’m super syked that your life is perfect, but you would potentially be a really boring reality show. And your QLC time will come sooner or later. The first step is admitting that you are, excuse my French, “balls deep” in a Quarter Life Crisis. Don’t worry. Everyone goes through it. It’s like puberty for older people.
Here are some self-comprised steps to help with this quarter-life-crisis. (I’m obviously not guru-ing in this topic, as I am still learning all of these lessons everyday. These are some of the things that have worked/will work for me, and hopefully will work for you too. If not, we can maybe just sit at home and cry to Adele together maybe?)
1. Make a bold move. Quit your job that you loathe. Get out of that detrimental relationship. Pick up and move somewhere. Invest in something. Take a step forward in something. ANYTHING. Just do it. Staying in the status quo because it’s safe and you don’t know what else to do is a terrible idea and only perpetuates your QLC. Move out of your parents house and become a circus performer. Apply for an internship/job in another country. Make a list of all of your contacts in other cities/state/countries/continents, contact them, and then move there. Worry about the repercussions later. You can seriously find a minimum wage job anywhere and can figure out how to simply “make it”. This is such a scary concept, but I believe that it’s absolutely necessary. The worst thing that could happen is that it doesn’t work out, you move back in with the parents, and your back to where you are now. Grow some balls/a vagina and DO IT.
2. Get in touch with yourself. No, I didn’t say “touch yourself”. I said get in tun with who you really are. I think a lot of us think we are too young to start soul searching and finding out who we truly are is not a priority. But in reality, it’s probably the most important thing we can do. Finding out what makes us happy at a young age reduces the risk of being that weird 35 year-old chick/bro still doing drugs at STS9 concerts at Red Rocks and binge drinking on the reg (you know those people….). Having our rock bottom/QLC now sets us up for a happier and more fulfilling life and kind of lets us escape the path some of our parents went down.
3. Stop basing your future off of money and “shoulds”. We were raised in a culture that equates money with success. It’s a fact. The harder you work, the more money you get, the happier you are? So wrong. While it’s nice to not be dead broke or homeless, we have lost touch with everything human when thinking about the future. When I talk to people on campus about their plans after graduation, almost everyone brings up how much money they think they will make in their chosen _______ (enter corporate schmuck job here) field. Most are miserable in even studying their supposed path, not to mention the decades of working ahead. It’s confusing and sad at the same time. What are you going to do with that money once you’ve earned enough? And will it ever be enough, or will you keep wanting more? It’s a vicious cycle that we weave ourselves into. I am a strong believer that once you find your passion, everything (including money) will fall into place.
AND the dreaded “shoulds” of life. We should go to college, graduate with decent grades, get a real job, and disappear into the 9-5 workforce until it’s time to retire (or not…). We should get married and have 2.5 children before you hit 30, move to the suburbs, buy a volvo station wagon (i seriously actually want one.), and spend our days numb to our emotions. The “shoulds” are unicorns in this sense. They’re unattainable and we let them control our lives (So actually they’re not really like unicorns at all….But you get my point). There is no right or wrong way of doing things. Do what you want and don’t get “should” on.
4. Ditch your unhealthy relationships and measure friends by quality rather than quantity. Being friends with someone for a long time doesn’t mean they need to be a permanent part of your life. We change, and the people in our lives change too. I’ve found I have lost the common ground with my friends in high school because I have changed so much through the years. If someone drags you down or isn’t conducive to your non-rock-bottom life, don’t be afraid to cut them out of your life. Find people that you have common ground with NOW rather than in the past. If you are in a relationship and are afraid to leave it because you’re scared and don’t want to be alone, LEAVE. You’re not going to die alone, I promise. Actually only 1.7% of people in the world die without having love in their life. I didn’t make that up. Google it. OK but I’m not saying to ditch all of your friends and cut ties with your lover just to say you did it. I’m simply saying take a step back from your friends and lovers and asses who is helping you grow, and who is hindering your journey. It’s absolutely okay to only have a few close friends rather than like 5849 acquaintances. OH and I also just learned the thrill of deleting Facebook friends that are bogging down your internet life. Do a little house cleaning. It’s seriously refreshing. Actually, I’m deleting my faebook. Stat.
5. Stop thinking you are old. You are not old. Hitting 24 and having a pity-party because your life is almost over is not cute. Thinking that you have nothing to show for your age is completely irrational. If you are a twentysomething, you have so much life ahead of you (unless, of course, the apocolypse hits as predicted. Then yes, you can consider yourself 100 years old if you want). But seriously, no one really has anything phenominal to show by their 20’s, unless you are a child star/genius. Get over the age number factor and always know that there is no set timeline for your successes. And seriously, as I mentioned in my last post, use your age to get you out of compromising situations while you still can! We’re supposed to be reckless and naive at this age.
6. Let go of the things that do not matter. We carry around so many unnecessary obligations that we think are important. Putting all of your effort into your physical appearance is the biggest one that pops into my head. I’ve noticed in the past year that no one really cares what you look like, except for you. No one cares that you have the hottest Marc Jacobs purse and are the hippest thing since your dad in the 70’s. When I was going through my rock-bottom/mental breakdown last year, my mother would always tell me that other people have their own shit going on and could essentially care less what you look like. I know that there are a ton of judgmental people out there, but there are also a ton of people who can see past it. And really, so what? So what if someone judges you on your appearance? They will probably forget in like 3.56 seconds. This is also an excellent way to weed out the people in your life that are not conducive to the non-rock-bottom you.
7. Get yourself into a life or death situation, and then get out of it. This could be sketchy advice, so maybe don’t take it literally (or do…). I sometimes get into dangerous life-threatening dilemmas (every time I drive. I really shouldn’t have a license.) and can almost see my life flash in front of my eyes. Obviously, I get myself out of the situation and keep on living. Being really close to kind of death makes your syked to be still alive and revives your heart a little. A good dose of adrenaline is also really helpful in pulling you out of a QLC. Go skydiving. Go base jumping. Do something that REALLY scares you. At the very least, you can check these somewhat dangerous things off your bucket list. At the most, compromising your life will act like a mouth-to-mouth CPR revival from Ryan Gosling.
8. Stop comparing yourself to others. Facebook is so detrimental to our lives. We constantly scroll/stalk everyone we know and base our successes (or lack there of) off of their alleged happiness. This is such a mask. I bet if you went through your profile with a third-person perspective, you probably look pretty damn happy too. Having 580323 smiling pictures in an exotic location/with a significant other/riding a unicorn/with a newborn baby does not mean someone is happy. They probably just always remember to take pictures, or whatever. If we took other people’s lives as an indicator for ourselves, we would all be knocked up and married by now. Ew. Everyone grows at different rates and there is truly no gauge as to where you should be at 23. I think the only reliable gauge is to compare yourself to yourself a year ago. Look back and see where you were and how happy you were with your life. If it’s better now, you’re probably on the right path. If not, you might be on the decline. But whatever, we already know that every hits a rock bottom at some point. You might as well get yours out of the way now. But seriously, stop judging yourself in relation to others. It’s useless. We should have a mass suicide, but instead of suicide, we delete our facebooks and instead of kool-aid we drink wine. Are you in?
9. Get out and meet people. Life doesn’t happen sitting at home watching 30 Rock in a snuggie every night. We know this. So put on some real clothes, brush your hair, and get out there. Do things that interest you and be open to new people. We often think that we don’t need/want to meet people because we already have good/enough friends. Meeting people is what makes our experiences so great. I was looking through my pictures from my semester abroad, and I noticed that I took entirely too many pictures of the national monuments and not enough of the wonderful people I met along the way. So stop being an awkward turtle and meet some humans with awesome stories to share. And who knows, they could change your life….
10. Do one thing each day that makes you happy. I’m reading a book called the Happiness Project by Gretchen Ruben about her quest to appreciate all of the good in her life. She sets different goals each month to clear her life, and tries to do one thing a day that makes her happy. I love the idea of this. Even if you do something that makes you smile for 2.5 seconds, it’s better than nothing. Have a raging dance party in your room to Lady Gaga. Watch stupid kitten and sloth videos on Youtube. Do a craft. Go and chat with your super senille and super wise next door neighbor. People watch. Drink really good coffee. Host your own social experiment. Call an old friend. Write a letter. Do yoga (obv). Play with little kids (that you know, not just random children at the park. Their parents won’t like that.) DO SOMETHING for yourself. Errrrday.
So the take-home message is this: embrace the and welcome the ever-flowing movement of your life. Enjoy the bad times, as hard as they seem, because chances are they are temporary and will only make everything else feel/look wonderful. Learn everything you can during your rock-bottom, and then take it with you as you come out of your misery cave. Everyday is a fresh start, make it what you want. If your quarter-life-crisising, sitting in your room feeling bad for yourself is the worst thing to do. The hardest step to take is the first one. But do it. You won’t regret it. Think of it as a fresh start. Re-invent the life you want. And, dear reader, if this post finds you in the fetal position on your rock bottom, I urge you to get up and explore. Stop crying and start learning.
How do you like that for a metaphor???
Peace and so much Love.
P.S. this guide can also apparently be used for drinking problems and hoarders (animal and otherwise). FYI.