Has anyone else between the ages of 21 and 29 ever woken up at 3:30 am on the cusp of a major life change and decided that the pitch black of night was the most perfect time to call into question the meaning and purpose of your entire metaphysical existence?
Asking for a friend.
Here are three encouragements if you're experiencing (or on the verge of it) a quarter-life crisis:
1. What is for you will not pass you by.
Surprising or not, I don't much like to commit to things. I took a personality test once that asked the question, “True or false: the best decision is one that can be easily undone.” And I remember thinking, "Finally, someone else understands."
Things like declaring a major, starting a job and changing my status from “single” to “in a relationship” are inherently uncomfortable to me, because they require long-sightedness, dedication and commitment. (All good qualities, no?)
In the act of saying “yes” to something, however, I'm automatically saying “no” to, like, 12 billion other things (rough estimate).
But what is meant for me won't pass me by. Sometimes, all it takes is a step. You don't really know what you're agreeing to by making a definite choice, and you also don't know what you're closing the door on.
First nugget of advice from a sister in the process? Trust that the universe will honor your forward motion by blocking the wrong paths and clearing the right ones. It'll help you be less stressed and I promise that's really what you need right now.
2. No, that wasn't “the last good job offer.”
And it certainly wasn't "the last of the good men." It just wasn't so stop thinking it. This one kind of goes hand-in-hand with point number one.
I have this annoying tendency to get super fatalistic about this kind of stuff – stuff being my career (more like, my future career), my health and men.
I'll see someone get a boyfriend, receive a promotion or land a job two weeks out of college, and my FIRST thought is, IT'S OVER. THAT WAS IT.
Like my entire physical existence and metaphysical purpose as a member of our universe somehow culminated and evaporated in the scorching spotlight of that one person's brief, momentary achievement. And it doesn't, but it can sure feel that way.
I truly think that one of the most gracious, attractive things a person can do is celebrate another person's success. Not only does it demonstrate that Person A is able to show love and support to Person B, but it shows that Person A isn't easily threatened.
I want to become more like Person A. Because, no, it wasn't "the only job worth having" or "the last of the men able to carry on a conversation about vector fields and gender norms." There will be others.
Another woman's success is not my failure. I haven't missed my chance. Which brings me to my last blurb.
3. You cannot mess this up.
You really think that you and I are in control of this thing? Look around.
Life and time are constantly unfolding without our help. I don't need to worry about the well-being of every tree, tide and fallen leaf. My heart beats with a series of electronic impulses that operate independent of any effort on my part. These things are not affected in any way by my perception of them; they simply do what they were created to do.
Here's a refreshing, pragmatic truth: I could die today and the Earth would keep on spinning.
The success, or failure, of my endeavors does not entirely begin and end with me. That really takes a lot of the pressure off when you think about it.
That means that as long as I'm living with integrity and working hard, I can't put my identity in my success. Outside factors may influence my best effort in a way that gives me a negative result: an unfair boss, high humidity or an unfaithful partner.
If I know I did all I could, I cannot use my defeats as the measuring stick of personal worth. This control thing – it's all a perception. The Earth is just pleased to have me here, along for the ride.
This post was originally posted on the author's blog.