Ever since I hit my twenties, I had been reading all kinds of articles online on how to move forward from quarter life crisis. I had been confiding in Google all my apprehension because the internet was nonjudgmental in giving advice. I tried to research more on quarter life crisis not only because I wanted to know how to survive but I wanted to know if I was the only one stuck in quarter life crisis, and most importantly, I needed affirmation that quarter life crisis (QLC) was really a crisis and what I was feeling was valid.
I followed what most millennials do to surpass quarter life crisis: take a break and travel, take a master’s degree, relocate, and to make a career change.
I’m not an expert and I believe no one size fits all. Here are just my realizations in my journey towards surviving QLC.
I used to entertain the idea of traveling the world as a life calling as many travel bloggers would claim. There are tons of articles that tell you that you are wasting your life if you have not traveled much. On my previous job, I took my vacation leaves seriously. I made sure I traveled back home or travel with friends. I was happy because it helped me escaped my frustration in life. It helped me forget how I loathed myself at times.
Looking back, I realized travelling was not and should not be my aspiration. Instead of dreaming to be a full time traveler, dream of a job that can take you to many places.
Note to self: You can be as happy in your own home doing the things you love, and hanging out with great company inasmuch as you can be happy going to a new island or an amusement park.
Wherever you are, learn to be happy.
A lot of people I know took the route of studying again. Some would go to law school or take an entirely different degree. I took my master’s degree while I was figuring out what I wanted to do in life. I look at it as an option of what else I can do in my life. I did enjoy studying. Probably, I just had the endurance for long readings. It did work for me. It did ignite my interest to work for women’s rights which is quite relevant with my current work.
Like I said, no one size fits all. Some just wanted to study to escape the emptiness they felt inside, like those who wanted to travel. In the process, they do not necessarily desire to finish grad school. That’s totally fine because to keep on trying is the way out of quarter life crisis.
Make a career change?
If you are going through quarter life crisis, this is the best time to make a career change. If not now, when would be the best time? I am a late bloomer. For my age, I stayed long in my first job. Millennials usually are job hoppers. I think those who tried different kinds of jobs earlier in life achieve greater success. The vast variety of jobs you take helps you grow professionally, and emotionally. You’ll get to know your ideal workplace and you learn to deal with different kinds of people at work.
For the longest time, I had a stable job in an international company. I quit my job. I accepted jobs from small organizations. People might think this is crazy but I have learned a lot from this. I took a temporary job of an English as a Second Language Teacher. The next job I worked for was a membership type of trade organization. At present, I work for a nonprofit organization whose main focus is policy advocacy. I get to meet many people and advocate for the rights of women and children, which I am most passionate of.
Here’s my takeaway message:
Quarter life crisis is just a transition to adulthood. It is a period when you give up your ideals and replace them with practical yet fulfilling goals. It is a time that you realize you can’t stay in Neverland forever. It is a time when you resolve your “what-ifs” in life. You have to grow up. Instead of dreaming of becoming a TV reporter or Broadway star, I just limit my aspirations in three things: To find a cause, to fall in love and to write a book.
I found a cause. I fell in love. And the only thing left for me is to write a book.
It is not about finding something you do not have but it’s about discovering what you already have.
Don’t be eager to get everything. You don’t have to figure out everything. Allow yourself to be crazy and stupid at times.
The goal in life is not contentment because you will never achieve that in this lifetime. I think we need a healthy amount of insecurity and dissatisfaction in life to strive harder.
The goal of your journey on quarter life crisis is to achieve self-assurance. You should know in your heart that even if you can never see all the places in the world, and even if you can never please your peers, your family, your boss, or your friends, you are okay!
Lastly, a lot of inspirational and motivational speakers will tell you that you have “a calling”. I believe, we don’t have to have one calling. You are capable of changing! You can be a successful doctor today but be a missionary by tomorrow. You are not meant to do just “one thing” for the rest of your life. You are meant to do many things. So stop being obsessed of finding the right job, or knowing what your passion is. Do not put yourself in a box. As long as we live, the possibilities are endless.
How do you know if you have surpassed quarter life crisis?
……if you are starting to lose the fear of missing out (FOMO) and replace it with optimism for the future.