If you feel extremely doubtful about how your life is going, and you feel lost, anxious, confused, terrified, panicky, and very hopeless, then welcome to the Quarter Life Crisis Club! Don't worry, you are not alone in this.
According to Wikipedia, "The quarter-life crisis is a period of life ranging from twenties to thirties, in which a person begins to feel doubtful about their own lives, brought on by the stress of becoming an adult."
Buzzfeed has an article explaining the 10 signs of having your quarter life crisis but I'm pretty sure you'll know it when you're having it --- constant wondering of what you're doing with your life, if you're going in the right career path, worrying about almost anything happening in your life, confusion, being present physically but not really present mentally, worrying about time, worrying about finances, worrying about why you're still alone and everyone else around you is having babies and getting married while you're too busy finding yourself and that "perfect job", and why you're painting at 2am while binge watching series and video blogs on youtube then wonder why your life isn't the way you planned it to be (I may or may not have just described myself there). If you just said yes to those, then yes, you're going through a quarter life crisis and you are not alone.
By the end of 2016, around October to December, that's when my quarter life crisis hit me so hard. It ate me whole. I wasn't really myself. I was lost. I felt degraded. I was deteriorating. I wanted to quit life so badly and just fly somewhere far, far away from my life and from everybody. I wanted to find myself but I don't know where to start. I was pressured. It wasn't just depression actually, it was worse. It was my quarter life crisis.
If you remembered, I published an article entitled, "AYOKO NA PERO DI PWEDE | On Finding myself, Changing, and Growing." because I broke down by the month of October. I just couldn't handle it anymore.
I was on my 3rd job, I was a junior interior designer at this small but great design firm and I thought everything was going pretty well, you know, after my past 2 job experiences. Being hired was like, "Yes! Ito na talaga yun. Ramdam ko na. Ito na yun" ("Finally! This is it. I can feel it. This is really it") kind of moment because ever since I resigned from my first job, I've been doing a career soul-searching. But I was wrong, definitely wrong. Because working there, I experienced a lot of factors which triggered my quarter life crisis.
I've always believed in myself. And if I want to achieve something, I do whatever it takes to reach it no matter what. Even if I suck, I'll try my hardest to improve in order to achieve whatever it is that I want to achieve. It's been my attitude since I was 5 years old. So before working on my 3rd job, I believed in my capabilities and skills. I strongly believed in myself though I know that being a fresh grad, I still have a lot to learn and I'm up for that. However, going to work day by day, I was just losing it. I was lost. I was confused. I was deteriorating. I know what I was doing but I was just losing focus that every time I report to my boss, I was forgetting everything and was having panic attacks. During meetings, I was physically present but mentally, I wasn't. My mind was going, "why am I here? what am i doing here? is this really the life i want?". I was constantly daydreaming of how I really want my life to be. I was imagining and there was a constant self-questioning of "what if I never stopped ballet?". And then I was also wanting that so-called "work-life balance" because back in college, it was engraved in my mind that my profession will make me the boss of myself. Apparently, it would take me a few years before achieving that because my family isn't well connected for me to be able to easily have clients. I have to work hard and work my way up.
It also came to a point that I was losing my passion and my heart for interior design. I wanted to quit the profession even if I worked so hard in college just to be where I am. I just didn't want to do it anymore. I hated the lifestyle. I was having panic attacks every single day. Work became super stressful. Traveling from North to South every single day was also a factor of my quarter life crisis that when I stayed over at my Aunt's place (who's house is just less than an hour away from my office) by November, I just wanted to quit the job. It was still dreadful though somehow a bit relieving especially because I wasn't having panic attacks the whole month. But then, by the end week of the month, I was losing it again. I just don't want the kind of life anymore even if I have a 'driver' (hi, Arby!!!) and even if my workmates became my friends. I don't want the kind of life anymore even if the job was really helpful (experience wise) because working at the said firm became very unhealthy for me. I was being affected physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
And at 23 years old, I was dreading my life because I have planned my life and I have set of goals which wasn't being fulfilled. I felt like this wasn't the life I should be having at 23. Also add the pressure I have for being a people-pleaser and for being insecure.
It was very dreadful and horrible. I suddenly wanted different things but I didn't know what I really want. But it was clear to me that I no longer want to pursue interior design rather, I wanted to be a professional ballerina, full-time blogger and artist. A career which seemed unstable and inconsistent in the real world if I'll ask my parents' generation. I was a mess for 6 months, with the last 3 months of 2016 being so effed up. I wanted to end the year right but I was scared of what's gonna happen to me after I resign, until, I've decided to pick myself up from this downfall, do something about it and make things better because I only get to live one life and I don't want to waste it feeling sorry for myself because I am so lost and confused.
Below are my top ways of dealing with my quarter-life crisis.
1. Accept that you're going through a tough time and cry it all out.
I had no idea that I was going through a quarter life crisis. What I was sure of though was that I had no idea what I was doing anymore. I just didn't want to go to work that if it was that easy to resign, I would have done it ASAP. But it wasn't that easy. And every waking day was terrible. And I felt so pressured with all the factors in my life barging in, confusing me, all at the same time. The pressure of my goals, of timelines to my self, of being a people-pleaser, of not wanting to disappoint people but ended up disappointing people, of fear of failing, of if decisions I made in the past were right, of proving myself that I am capable, of not wanting to make people worry but ended up making them worry even more, and of endless things that just keep on coming in. Everything was so horrible, it was so tough and I can't handle it anymore. My heart exploded. My feelings exploded. So I cried. I cried and I cried. I just cried it all out. The tears were like waterfalls pouring down so fast from my eyes. It was seriously, seriously horrifying, gruesome, and nightmarish.
But it felt kind of great after that --- of accepting that I am going through a quarter life crisis and of crying my heart out. It helped me so if you're going through a quarter life crisis, accept that you are indeed going through a quarter life crisis and just cry everything out.
2. Tell yourself, "I'm going to be okay". "I will be okay".
I know this is too cliche but if you're feeling so down and you repeatedly tell yourself that you are going to be okay, you will indeed be okay. Because you become what you believe.
Apparently, in my case, I wasn't constantly saying this to myself because I was so pre-occupied with my thoughts and all but this friend of mine who was a witness to my dark phase and who had seen all of me when I was so lost, confused, and hopeless (HI ARBY!!!) kept on telling me this:
"Awww you'll be okay, Rae. Don't worry. You'll figure things out eventually. Don't rush it. You're still young. You'll be okay".
He tells me this almost every single day because that's how often I feel so down because I keep on talking about whatever it is that bothers me. And whenever I hear him say that, somehow, it lightens the heaviness of my heart.
3. Talk it out.
Don't let the emotions brought by your quarter life crisis drown you. If you can cry it out, you can spill it out through words.
I was lucky to have very concerned parents, brothers, relatives, and friends. My parents and I even had "a talk" because they were so concerned and even though they don't really understand me 100%, they tried to help me out. Making decisions is very difficult for a people-pleaser like me because when I was in my quarter life crisis, there was a constant battle between what I really want and what I think would be best for the people around me, of what would make them happy.
So being able to talk it through was a relief.
4. Remember that you are not alone. Surround yourself with people who really cares for you.
You’re never alone, you know. Just think of your friends, the ones who care. –Tigger
"You'll just be fine :) think of happy thoughts!" - Arby
"What is life without making big steps or meeting people along the way." - Arby
"Would you like me to send you motivational quotes for your last week at work?" - Jen
Know whom to trust and find comfort in them. They care for you and no matter how lost you are and how hopeless you feel, they'll make everything somehow feel better.
5. Ask for advice but don't really listen to them. Don't overthink just follow your heart.
If you studied a specific course for let's say, 4, 5, or 8 years, and then you got your diploma, got a job, but ended up not being happy with it because your heart is shouting that you pursue something different, then don't complicate things. Just follow your heart. Don't let others dictate you. Follow your heart. Ask for advice if you want assurance but don't let them affect your decision. Don't listen to what others has to say unless you want to weigh in your options and you want advice from people you trust. Remember, it's your life, not theirs.
Being a people-pleaser, I sought advice from my family and friends. Doing this, I realized that the generation of my parents is so different from my generation. The number one thing our parents' generation care about is "job stability" as millennials look for a "work-life balance" and happiness as we are not plagued by the same challenges our parents were.
Allow me to state the following for a clearer understanding of what I've just said:
Parents' generation: "...but think twice, think about it because having a lot jobs will be bad for your resume..."
Millennials: "...if I were you, I'll make it my edge. You have a lot of passion and skills that's why you like to try out new things and I think that's an advantage.
Talking to a lot of people made me a bit confused but then I watched a vlog and the vlogger was like, "Just think about it. If money and other people will not be involved, what would you be doing right now? Just think about it then go do it."
Always remember that everything happens for a reason and God has a plan for you. It may seem like everything's going chaotic and terrible and you may question everything that's been going on because it's hurting already, but the experience will lead you into something greater. You may not understand it yet but you will eventually.
Trust me on this because I strongly believe that I now have surpassed my quarter life crisis and I'm now happy. My friends can tell actually. If I hadn't got punched hard in the face by reality and hadn't experienced my quarter life crisis, I wouldn't have resigned and realized what I really wanted all along. I wouldn't have met new friends whom I know cared for me as much as I care about myself. I wouldn't have made decisions that led me to where I am now. I wouldn't have been re-discovering my art skills and wouldn't have the urge to start a passion project. I wouldn't have known what "happiness" really feels like at work. I wouldn't have become stronger. I wouldn't have stopped giving myself a timeline which could have made my life perspective awful. I wouldn't have been a much better person and I wouldn't have made my passion burning.
I am just eternally grateful that I hit rock bottom by the end months of 2016 as it now leads me to greater things (I can feel them coming) because I was able to pick myself up and regain myself. God really does work in mysterious ways so you just have to trust.
Here are some readings that helped me during my quarter life crisis and it might help you too:
1. Maybe God Is Making You Wait Because He Wants You To Learn That There’s No Timeline For Anything In Life
2. Fresh Start | Happy New Year
3. 16 Uncomfortable Feelings That Actually Indicate You’re On The Right Path
Are you dealing with quarter life crisis now? Or have you surpassed the phase? Share your story in the comments section below, I'd like to read your experience and maybe we can help each other as well! :)