You’ve spent $40,000 plus on a really neat piece of paper and you’ve said goodbye to your hometown for the past four (or five…or more for the Van Wilders out there) years, but now you're ready to move on and start the long but rewarding journey of 9 to 5 adult life.
Fast forward three years. You are 25 years old and if you’re lucky, you’re stuck at a dead end job. You’re still enjoying home cooked meals from your mom because your parents are your new roommates (again.)
You are reading daily blogs that tell you the government has shut down, student loan debt is over one TRILLION dollars and your future, let alone your present, looks bleak.
So what do you do? How are you going to survive this terrible and soul bludgeoning period of your life? Go through your own quarter life crisis!
You might be thinking life crises are usually reserves for depressed 40 somethings who need excitement in their lives. They drop hundreds or thousands of dollars on shiny new toys and shiny new bodies in order to make themselves feel better. But the thing is, a quarter life crisis can be healthy for you, and you’re old enough to appreciate what a break from reality can do for you.
For many of us 20 year olds, money is so tight that we forget what it’s like when cash wasn’t a necessity to have fun. College nostalgia is the only thing we can rely on as we harken back to the days where Long Islands in pitchers were two bucks and North Face, tights, and Ugg boots was the sexiest outfit of the winter. Now, you scour the city for a $4 PBR and you say things like “back in the day” and "I remember when."
Everything seems to be stacked up against you, and no matter what your seniors tell you, you don’t feel entitled and you don’t feel like you deserve more than what you’ve been dealt. You feel broke.
But the thing is, you’re going to be OK and a quarter life crisis is exactly what the doctor ordered to get you over the hump and feel good about chasing your dreams, even if they are a bit more deferred than what you originally projected. But the question is, how can you have a helpful and healthy breakdown?
Don’t Overhaul Your Life, Maximize It
Each swipe of your card is a painful reminder that your cash flow is going in the opposite direction you want it to go in. And when we are lacking funds, we tighten up the wallet and tighten up our social lives. But money does not always equal a good time. This is the perfect opportunity to take your social life and put it in overdrive.
Sure, you may be working part time, but that also affords you more time to do extracurricular things, whether this involves a trip to the bar or a trip to the library.
Whatever way you live your life, you can still maximize your opportunities to keep yourself active. And no, this doesn’t mean finding things that are cost effective. This is the time to refuse to be a shut-in and let yourself go. It is time to make your crazy fantasies a reality.
When you set up your weekly or monthly budget, set aside some cash in a “Crazy Times” pile. This tiny little kitty will soon grow into a considerable amount of dough that will enable you to treat yourself to something extravagant. The amount of money you set aside is up to you, but $5 to $10 per week is a good start.
When the end of the month comes, you take your pile and spend on something wild, weird, or downright ridiculous. Go shopping or clubbing, treat yourself to a makeover with friends, or save your cash and go big next month. Bungee jumping is only 100 bucks!
Behold the Power of The Sun
Do you remember those old cartoons where the sun had a giant smiley face that would shine magic rays of sunshine when you were feeling blue? Pretty creepy stuff, right? It may sound like a creative hoax to entertain children, but the sun really does have healing powers that will put you in a better state of mind.
Studies have shown that light deprivation has a strong correlation with depression. When you are cooped up in your house or apartment, the lack of sunlight affects your mood. Ten minutes of fresh air in the sun works wonders on your life. And your skin. And who doesn’t want to have beautiful skin?
Getting outside your room also helps you avoid turning your living space into a dungeon of despair. Research shows rooms that tend to be cluttered, disorganized, and dirty affect your mental health. Many of you might notice that you can’t work or concentrate in your room.
Some of you may also feel like doing something but then you realize laying around in your underwear seems like a great idea. When you are depressed, you don't clean; you don't clean because you're depressed. A clean environment is a happy environment. So listen to your mother; clean your room and go for a walk outside.
Spending time outdoors is great way to clear your mind. Nature has its own set of healing powers. Go for a hike, take a trip to a campsite on a Tuesday. And if you are strapped for cash, set up some sticks and a bed sheet in a makeshift fort, plug in your George Foreman grill and enjoy a couple of Keystones on the sidewalk.
Keep Chasing Your Dreams
Your dreams and ambition are going to be your greatest weapons when it comes to pushing you through your low moments. This is may be the most important factor when it becomes to enjoying your quarter life crisis. Rome wasn’t built in a day and for most of us, our career path is more like a hike up Everest versus a walk in the park.
So, when your friends brag about their Christmas bonuses or your parents hound you about giving them future grandchildren, keep your head up and keep on dreaming.
Party like a rockstar and forget about your frustrations, even if your respite is only for a few hours. Life is hard enough, regardless of how successful you are. Why would you want to constantly remind yourself that your life is crappy?
Your twenties will be the best and worst time of your life (at the moment.) College helps you discover who you are and what you want to be when you grow up, but there are still some tough life lessons you have to learn. Take advantage of your prime of your life and plow through life with the same intensity as you did "back in the day."
Sooner or later, you’ll realize that the crisis is over and you survived…and became a stronger person.
Top photo courtesy of Tumblr