20s by Julia Ismail October 31, 2018
My quarter-life crisis has been going on for about two years now.
First, it started off with a slightly misguided sense of purpose, in turn translating into a depression that kept me hidden under my insecurities for entirely too long.
Somewhere between the ages of 20 and 22, I realized that I was getting older and things were changing around me, though I was steadily in place. The thought of my three younger brothers becoming stable before me was a harsh blow to the ego.
I was stuck: How could I set an example to lead when I was still figuring it out myself? Why hadn’t I balanced my life priorities yet? And at the end of the day, what’s the purpose of doing so, if any at all?
At 25, I still don’t have every detail of my life put together. I know that sounds terrifying, even shameful, to some people. People my age are engaged, already in marriages with families, getting secondary degrees, and sporting six figure bank accounts; meanwhile, I’m still swapping minds about gym memberships and whether or not the cheese block from Whole Foods was worth it.
In 2017, my number one lesson has been focus. I’ve learned to pay closer attention. I’ve learned to unravel the way people think, move, and work.
I’ve learned of the darker realities of the real world, recognized the societal cracks that are broadening, expanding, making it more crucial now than ever for me and everyone to make our impact (another article for another time); but mostly I’ve learned about myself, the person I am, the person I’m becoming, and the person I will be.
It seems that everyone is going through the same thing. My friends, their friends, my family, strangers on the street, celebrities in the media, the list goes on and on.
I know beautiful, successful people following the exact path they’d set for themselves in elementary school, yet are still second guessing their every move. I know passionate, starving artists losing their minds chasing their creativity, impeded only by their lack of existential fulfillment.
Point being, we’re all endlessly stressed. If not about one thing, then about the other. As author Mark Manson points out in The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck: problems never stop:
“When you solve your problem of not spending enough time with your partner by designating Wednesday night ‘date night,’ you generate new problems, such as figuring out what to do every Wednesday that you both won’t hate, making sure you have enough money for nice dinners, rediscovering the chemistry and spark you two feel you’ve lost, and unraveling the logistics of fucking in a small bathtub filled with too many bubbles. Problems never stop; they merely get exchanged and/or upgraded.”
We seem to go through these tectonic realizations somewhere between the ages of 25 and 30. The Guardian reports a whopping 86% of people who relate to having symptoms of, or admitting to experiencing a quarter-life crisis.
Research found that 86% of the 1,100 young people questioned admitted feeling under pressure to succeed in their relationships, finances, and jobs before hitting 30.
The most common problems are, surprise surprise, fiscal.
Two in five were worried about money, saying they did not earn enough, and 32% felt under pressure to marry and have children by the age of 30. Six percent were planning to emigrate, while 21% wanted a complete career change.
The “quarter-life crisis” is another interval of time where things seem to be transitioning heavier than usual.
In my personal experience, my quarter-life (and natural-life crisis) has manifested itself financially. The largest issue I’m unable to surmount is mastering my finances.
Obviously, this is completely my fault, but rather than endlessly berate myself over the circumstances, I try and remember there’s a deeper reason for my going through it. There are lessons to be learned with every obstacle faced and a moral for every story. I’m also a writer, but ya know, that’s besides the point.
Jules Schroeder of Forbes’ Unconventional Life sat down with Robert MacNaughton, CEO of Integral Center, an incubator centered around personal development organizations.
On the show, Robert shared what he believed to be the most important tips to help you get through this period of time.
MacNaughton calls this period the “Integral Postmodern Theory,” where you question the very reality of existence and purpose.
“MacNaughton recalls asking grand questions like, ‘What are these things that our family and culture is enrolling us into and saying we should care about? Why should we care about them and why should we just go through the motions?’ He calls these things ‘Postmodern Integral Theory,’ which reflect a healthy skepticism towards traditional world views in order to transcend limited thinking and achieve greater mindfulness.”
These questions are normal and necessary to address so that you can start organizing your priorities in life. When feeling confused, misguided, or misplaced in your life, it’s important to revert back to this student’s mindset. So long as you understand that every hardship faced is a lesson to carry with you, the changes around you filter themselves through your natural cognizance adopted throughout the universe.
The five phases of a quarter-life crisis usually go as follows:
Phase 1 – A feeling of being trapped by your life choices. Feeling as though you are living your life on autopilot.
Phase 2 – A rising sense of “I’ve got to get out” and the feeling that you can change your life.
Phase 3 – Quitting the job or relationship or whatever else is making you feel trapped and embarking on a “time out” period where you try out new experiences to find out who you want to be.
Phase 4 – Rebuilding your life.
Phase 5 – Developing new commitments more attuned to your interests and aspirations.
Of course, these phases don’t manifest the same way for everyone. Overcoming insecurities is managed in a couple of steps. Getting to know yourself, accepting your personal journey, learning to make your own choices, learning to live for yourself, and only yourself, becomes crucial.
And this goes without saying, but don’t even think about comparing yourself to the accomplishments of others. Comparison is a huge no-no that holds you back in a loophole of insecurities which leads nowhere.
On the bright side, by adopting a pupil’s mind during this chapter of development, I can honestly I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. Through experiencing the hardships most quarter-lifers face, I’ve developed a deeper connection with the universe, which has translated into ethereal guidance and sensibilities.
The past year has been centered around spiritual and emotional growth in all areas. I’ve heightened my awareness in so many places, though admittedly fallen behind in others.
Every so often, I stop and remind myself that it’s okay to make mistakes; I’m learning, I’m changing, I’m growing. My own shadow can’t keep up with the corners I’m turning. I’m on a chase, and sometimes, the run gets messy.