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Terrible Twenties: How I (Kind Of) Survived My Quarter Life Crisis
It was the night before my 25th birthday and I was excited. Not only was I reaching a completely new level of life, I was blossoming into my mid-twenties full of hope, ambition and a little bit of life experience. I knew that I wanted to go back to school, work on my writing, get my own place, spend more time with my family, strengthen my personal relationships and possibly reinvent myself creatively. This would be my year! This was the year that I would become the person I was meant to be. This was the year that everything I had planned would finally fall into place. I went to sleep that night in pure bliss. Pure ignorant bliss.
The next morning I opened my eyes and realized I was officially 25. I looked at myself in the mirror trying to look for any sign that I had suddenly become a serious adult. Instead of the confidence I wholeheartedly expected to radiate, I felt this nervous flutter in the pit of my stomach; then the unthinkable happened. I panicked. I was officially 25! This mysterious weight fell on my shoulders and I was suddenly drowning in doubt. Who was I? What had I accomplished up until this point? Why didn't I have a serious career? How much money did I have in my savings account? Was I in a stable relationship? Why haven't I moved out yet? Should I have a dental plan? I used to laugh at the idea of these insecurities but there they were, staring back at me, bed-head and all. I was one giant leap into my twenties, (what felt like) practically thirty and on the fast track to forty. I had hit a wall. I was spiraling into what would later be classified as my Quarter Life Crisis. Happy Birthday to me!
Now I know what most people are thinking. Aren't you being a tad bit dramatic? Twenty-five classifies as young and probably too young to be rethinking, overanalyzing and scrutinizing your life. I've heard it all before, trust me. That doesn't change the fact that once you reach a certain age, you're forced to stand back and look at the bigger picture. Are you really who you always wanted to be? You see, I like to think that I have a great sense of self but at 25, I'm not so sure anymore. When I was 12 years old, I swore that at the glorious age of 24 I would be at the top of my dream career, preferably a teacher, journalist or candy taste-tester, live in an amazing brownstone, be engaged to an awesome guy and have my very own pony. Who was that idealistic girl and how would she feel if she found herself turning 25, working in a small museum, living at home with her parents, in the midst of a complicated relationship, and no pony to be found? I only had a Yorkshire Terrier! Penny is great and all, but let's be serious, she's no pony. I think it's safe to say the 12-year-old me would be crushed.
I would firstly like to admit that being a successful adult is a lot more difficult than I thought! Our whole lives we are taught to climb from level to level and constant monitoring on behalf of parents, teachers, and the occasional goal-oriented friend keeps us on track and moving forward. For once in my life, I found myself dwindling and there was absolutely no one to guide me, no to give me all of the answers and no one to hold my hand. I felt as though I should of at least had all of the basics figured out but I had underestimated my twenties, and life in general. I had to face facts. This wasn't the time for settling into a fancy Park Slope apartment and propping my feet up to reminisce about all of the amazing things I had already accomplished. It was time to sit in my small room and begin to build a foundation and imagine all of the great things I can now begin to do. I had just gotten back-handed by reality and it was time to get myself together. Laying in bed, eating Flamin' Hot Cheetos and watching reality television while feeling sorry for myself was no longer an option.
Fast forwarding a few months, many drinks, angry outbursts, and emotional rants later, I think it's safe to say I've learned a few things about being 25. They are:
1. It's okay to be disappointed, it's admirable to do something about it
It's unrealistic to expect life to be perfect and even more unrealistic to expect all of life's door and windows to open at the very same time. It will all happen in due time but until then, do everything you can to make things happen for yourself. Enroll in some classes, read books, get new hobbies and talk to people. You deserve a life filled with variety and it wouldn't hurt to learn the history of sushi.
2. Life is a process. Stop, breathe, and enjoy!
You never stop learning and you never should! Be grateful for every experience life has to offer even if it isn't directly connected to your career goals, interests or "set plan." You never know where they may lead or what part of you they might uncover. Take time to explore! I think I've already expressed that I believe plans are never set in stone. Whoever said they are is probably boring or rich, possibly both.
3. The grass is always greener on the other side and possibly filled with patches of poison ivy and bugs
Never compare yourself to others. Don't stalk your high school classmates on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and assume their lives are so much better than yours. What works for one person may not necessarily work for another and it's perfectly understandable to take your time with things. We all have our list of struggles. We all have our strong points and we should take full advantage of them. If you're good at cooking then start a blog, or become my best friend. Make my taste-tester dream come true!
4. Review, Reevaluate and Reorganize
The things that the 12-year-old me expected from the 25-year-old me seem pretty ridiculous now. Well, expect for the pony thing, that could still happen someday. Try to look at the bigger picture and come to a realistic conclusion. Do you still want the same things? Do they work for you? Do your experiences so far work for or against the goals you set before you actually knew what you were doing? Maybe set new goals for yourself and get back on the figurative horse. Or a real horse, it's up to you really. You already know I don't have one and no, I won't let that go.
5. Appreciate the battles and enjoy the victories
Sure 25 might be a little rough and the rest of your twenties might bring some more ups and downs but you can finally say that you're learning about yourself through experience. At this point we learn how to fail and then persevere. Look on the bright side. The ride is always a bit bumpy before we can cruise, right? Right!
6. You're an unfinished project and you'll only get better
It's never too late to "find yourself," work on yourself or become a better person. Don't give yourself deadlines or criticize yourself for being incomplete by society's standards. Do what makes you happy and get feedback from people you trust and who have your best interest in mind. You are your best critic, or is it worst? Either way, it's your life!
I know there are many more things to learn about being an adult and I haven't quite figured it all out yet. I'm closer to 26 now and to be perfectly honest, I'm still kind of terrified. Sometimes I start criticizing myself too harshly and I wonder if I'm happy and if I'll ever "make it," or if I'll ever really understand what that means. The truth is, I could be in a more stable situation, I could eat more vegetables and I could stop watching an unhealthy mix of 90's cartoons and The Golden Girls, but I'll get there. I'm slowly figuring out my ultimate strengths, what I need to keep or let go of, and who I really am in terms of a fully functioning human being. I'm more confident than ever and yes, I still do have my days filled with anxiety, stress and an odd number of questions but at least I'm having a good laugh at my own expense in the meantime.
Have you ever experienced a Quarter Life Crisis or any other kind of crisis? How did you handle it? Do you have any advice? Let's talk about it!
Then comes the dreaded question. Are you happy with yourself?