I am 24 years old and have spent the last year wondering what I should do with my life. I thought I’d be fabulous by now. Instead, in 2014, I went into full-on crazy mode. I moved back home and looked for a job. I compared myself to people my age who are traveling the world and found their passion right out of college. I applied to over 200 jobs, looked at hundreds of opportunities, and even tried a few. I became overwhelmed with all the possibilities, and realized how incredibly inadequate and inexperienced I am.
I looked at grad schools to study something I didn’t want to study.
I got my TESOL certificate.
I tried to get any job that would take me.
I read self-help books.
I got a job and then quit the job because it wasn’t what I wanted.
I was very, very confused.
All my life, I had been known as the confident girl who knew exactly where she wanted to end up in life. But 2014 was weird. And I suddenly felt exposed. In short, I had a quarter-life crisis.
The only thing I knew during this time was that I wanted out of it. I tried to escape, but the ground beneath me felt like quicksand and every time I tried, I’d fall deeper into my own confusion.
The problem with having a quarter-life crisis is that nobody really understands what you’re going through because a lot of adults seem to have skipped that horrible part of their lives. Who can blame them? Those who DO know what you’re going through are also going through their own crisis and are just trying to figure out where to go.
It’s been a very isolating and painful year, where the fear of staying the same has been larger than the fear of change. To combat the confusion, us quarterlifers tend to make rash decisions to feel like we’re in control. We ruin seemingly good opportunities. We try things and end up realizing it’s not what we want to do or where we want to go. People call us fickle and indecisive and lost. And then we feel like failures.
But somewhere on the dark road of confusion, a light eventually breaks through and we see ourselves clearly. It doesn’t always happen at once, but every now and then, we gain a small awareness of who we are. We realize we don’t want that job. At least not now. We realize we don’t want the life everyone has planned for us. We realize we have the freedom to change everything and to also screw it up.
We begin to realize who we are and what we want.
Sometimes, we come full circle and see that our childhood dreams made a camp inside us and are trying to come out again.
On my own journey this past year, I have come out of the confusion with clarity. I know now more than ever that I want to create art and write stories and edit movies. I want to be around creative people. I want to help others, and not live for myself. I want to travel. I want to teach. I want roots and wings, and won’t settle for a life without them both.
I’m thankful for my time in the quarter-life crisis because it gave me time to think a little too much. It gave me time to try and fail and hurt and feel.
And there is life in the quarter-life and it is in discovering who you truly you are without family, friends, and strangers to guide you. You may be lost, but inside a seemingly endless maze, you also realize there is no map and you can create your own way out. You end up realizing that your life is your own, and you can do whatever the heck you want with it. You realize that nobody has their whole life figured out and it’s okay if you don’t either. It’s okay if you never do.
But don’t take my word for it — I’m only 24.