I recently went through a period of unemployment where I felt a little lost and a lot broke. I was twenty-five, with no job, no money, and no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I slowly isolated myself from the rest of the world, realizing (based what I saw on Instagram) that I was probably the only one going through this.
That is, until one day when I met up with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. She had just moved in with her gorgeous boyfriend, adopted a puppy, and had a great job. Surely, her life was perfect. I asked how she was doing and her response was not what I was expecting, “Girl, my life is a MESS. I have no idea what I’m doing.”
It suddenly dawned on me – I wasn’t the only one who was feeling this way. In fact, everyone I spoke with after that conversation felt the exact same way.
What’s more surprising, is that many college-age or even high school women begin to feel the weight of the future before they even start their careers. In the age of social media, there’s more pressure than ever before to get into the best college, get your dream job by the time you’re 22, stay fit, look beautiful, have loads of money, be smart etc etc etc. These expectations are driving people crazy. So, by the time we turn 25 and don’t have it all figured out, we begin to feel like total failures.
So what is a quarter-life crisis? Although everyone has their own experiences, a quarter-life crisis includes general signs of insecurity, doubt, and uncertainty, specifically related to your career, relationships, and finances.
So how do we avoid feeling this way?
First off, remember to be kind to yourself. No matter your age, nobody expects you to have it all figured out. And I guarantee you that your toughest critic is actually yourself. So practice saying kind things to yourself, and remember to give yourself time. Just because some chick on Instagram is living her dream job at the age of 20 doesn’t diminish your self-worth.
Begin practicing emotional self-care. Our busy routine often means suppressing, avoiding, or controlling our emotions without paying any attention to what that might mean for our well-being. However, our emotions are there for a reason, and if you ignore them too long, then they will only become louder and stronger. Give yourself time to find a balance between listening to your emotions and not letting them run your life.
Give yourself time. Rome wasn’t built in a day my friends, and neither is your dream career. Try different things. Practice failing, and then trying again. Find out what you aren’t good at, and cross it off the list. Find your passion, and then work on turning that into a career.
Look, I don’t know what I want to do with my life. I don’t know where I want to be, or how much money I want to make. But I do know that I want to be happy. I know that I want to find inner peace, and get up each day with a new energy. If my interactions with other lost 20-somethings have taught me anything, it’s that there’s nothing more human than coming face-to-face with the biggest question of all: what is life’s purpose?
So stop the negative self-talk, and cut yourself some slack. There’s no deadline for figuring out what you want your life to look like. Take it day-by-day and open yourself up to any and all possibilities. Because the truth is, none of us have it all figured it out (even if we’re damn good at pretending we do).