We all have crises every now and then. From problems with school deadlines, to forging career paths, to dealing with financial matters, to coping with the demands of a good social life, to some family issues here and there, to healing from a broken heart; sometimes being a 20-something can be a “difficult” task.
And when these difficulties come together all at once and bombard you with non-stop stress and consistent overanalyzing, you chalk it up to a “quarter-life crisis” and manage it (or try to overcompensate) by constantly drinking and partying, drowning your social networks with emotional posts, taking trips to scenic locations to “find yourself” or some other personalized coping method that may or may not be a little crazy by standards of “normal” life.
During our 20s, we encounter a lot of transitions that can be overwhelming, but we’re too young for the “mid-life crisis.” So, we came up with our own version. I feel guilty referring to this time as a “quarter-life crisis” because in spite of the problems, I am still able to eat three times a day (at least), go out every now and then, have a comfortable bed in which to sleep and access to a smartphone and the Internet. I am still among the lucky ones, and if you are able to read this then you are, too.
In retrospect, my “problems” were pretty inconsequential, but at the time, they made me feel extremely depressed -- as in, crying rivers, smoking my lungs out, screaming at the top of my lungs, can-barely-get-out-of-bed type of depression. Struggling is relative. Here’s what I learned:
It’s okay to cry.
Crying, no matter how childish it may seem, can help to relieve some of the weight off your shoulders. I used to try not to cry, but after I eventually let it all out, I gradually felt better and calmer.
You can always count on your family.
I grew up dealing with typical family squabbles, but in spite of all of our differences, my family never let me down. Blood really is thicker than water and I’m lucky to have such a supportive family, especially to have had them during such a difficult time.
While not everyone is lucky enough to have a stable support system, I know I’m not the only one blessed with one. You might have overbearing parents or annoying siblings, but when you need them, you’d be shocked to find just how readily they’re willing to fight for you.
You will realize who your true friends are during trying times.
I’ve always prided myself on having a lot of friends, but when the chips were down and I began to make really stupid decisions, only a handful stayed around. I don’t mean “stayed” to mean that they turned a blind eye to my mistakes, but rather, they saw my faults, scolded me and called me out on my bullsh*t. They accepted me anyway and tried to help me overcome my problems by listening, even when my issues were petty and repetitive. No judgments, just acceptance and support.
Having problems doesn’t make you less awesome.
Problems are normal -- everyone has them. But, that neither makes you a bad nor boring person. What can make you less awesome is how you choose to deal with your problems: Will you choose to revel in the drama, to run away, or to face your problems head on and become stronger in the process?
You will realize how strong you are when you have no other choice but to be strong.
This may be a cliché, but it’s still very true. You’d be surprised by how much you can handle after you overcome your problems.
Never regret anything because at some point, it was what you wanted.
Yes, we make stupid mistakes. Yes, we all go through some really unsavory circumstances. Years later, we may look back in horror at the sh*t we did or went through, whether it was a bad haircut or a jerk boyfriend. Regardless, don’t regret it. You once wanted it and you learned from it. Everything really does happen for a reason.
You will make mistakes for as long as you live.
LEARN FROM THEM.
At some point, you will find yourself in the middle of nowhere. And in the middle of nowhere, you will find yourself.
Sometimes you need to lose yourself to find yourself. When you’re lost and feeling down, you will understand what kind of person you are and what kind of person you want to be.
It’s okay feel lost because when you find yourself at those crossroads, you will realize which road you want to take. And while you might not always decide on the correct path and doubling back isn’t always possible, there are more forks ahead that you can use to redirect your path. You can also learn to forge new roads, should you wish to do so. It’s just a matter of realizing where you are and where you want to go.
When the going gets tough, there will ALWAYS be one person you can count on: YOU.
You have the capacity to surpass your problems. Lose a job? Learn new skills and get a new one, even if it takes 100 tries. Lose a friend? Decide if the friendship was worth it, then talk it out or let go. Lose a love? You don’t need a soul mate to live a good and fulfilling life.
Don’t ever give up on life, even if it feels like you are being unfairly assaulted with problem after problem. People will let you down. Events can let you down. Things are constantly changing and life will continuously provide you with new stressors.
You are the only person who has the power to not let yourself down. So, use that power wisely and keep striving to be better, stronger and smarter. You’d be surprised at what kind of person you are capable of becoming if you choose to do something about your “problems” rather than blindly go through them.
The Wright brothers, Steve Jobs and plenty of other successful people went through some extremely frustrating times under really trying conditions, but they all ended up victorious. Money and fame are not the key ingredients to success. Success is about becoming who you want to be, no matter the circumstances.
You are stronger than your problems. You are made of greatness. Prove this to yourself and then prove it to the world.