If There’s One Thing I Know: The Quarter-life Crisis

This is my first blog post in a year and a half. As we all know, 2020 was a doozy. After going through some personal challenges that I wasn’t willing to share (the advice “write from scars, not open wounds” comes to mind), I sit here from my couch in Asheville—a sentence I never once imagined I would utter—ready to now do exactly that. 

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine reached out. She, like so many twenty-somethings (and thirty-somethings, and forty-somethings, and everyone), is currently having a quarter-life crisis. She recommended I share our conversation, which inspired me to do just that. If you’re currently struggling to figure out what you’re “meant” to do, I hope you can find some solace below. If there’s one thing I know, it’s the quarter-life crisis. TRUST ME (and all of my loved ones currently nodding in agreement). Here’s the main portion of our conversation:

Friend: I just have no idea what I want or what I’m doing. And I’m filling up my time with hobbies with no certain (or controlled) direction.

Me: Well, I will tell you that every path connects and if you are filling your time with hobbies then maybe that will lead somewhere or you will make a connection that will take you down a road you didn’t see coming. I used to think I needed to pick that one thing that would define my life (my career) and what ended up happening was going on many little journeys that I never imagined. You have a lot of time to learn a lot of things and you’re smart and you’re going to be okay and I really believe that in my soul. My only advice is don’t stand still and it doesn’t sound like you are standing still.

Friend: Thank you for the thoughtful response. I feel like I’m trying to unlearn prestigious job = success. And I forget to be nice to myself. I will repeat don’t stand still over and over in my mind today. 

Me: I had to unlearn that too and stop putting so much pressure on myself, it just takes A LOT of practice. But life is good, I’ve really changed a lot in the last year and I’m happier than I’ve ever been! If you told me at 25 that at 30 I’d be single, working at a bar and a grocery store, I would be very disappointed, but life is so much more interesting than how that sounds because it’s as interesting as you make it, you know?

Friend: **Mentally highlighting “life is so much more interesting than how that sounds because it’s as interesting as you make it”** How do you practice not pressuring yourself?

Me: It is just repeated thought over and over for a long time. There’s so much I could say about this. There is value in finding a way to make money doing something that lights you up, of course, that’s awesome, but there is more value in waking up everyday finding ways to make yourself proud, and that doesn’t necessarily involve a job. Like there is a lot of value in the connections I’ve made at work, the social connections bring me a lot of joy and make my day everyday. But at the same time I am always open to new opportunities.

It’s finding the balance between seeking the thing I’m “meant” to do (which I’m still not sure of) and being happy with where I am in the moment. Both things can exist at once and it doesn’t have to be stressful. Make the decisions that feel in sync with your gut and you will forge a path. It’s so cliché but the journey is the destination and the adventure you have while seeking can be exciting and priceless but you have to embrace it or you will feel constant tension. And you might have to tell yourself you’re embracing it 800 times before you actually believe it but one day you really will believe it. I hope that made sense.

Friend: It does make sense, thank you. Thanks for re-centering me.

Me: I’m happy I could be helpful! I have been there so many times so I really get it. Just get out there and experience everything you can. And also this isn’t linear, you’re gonna get frustrated sometimes, but feel it and then let it go (one of my fave words to tell myself is “onward”). I’m always here if you need to chat!

Friend: Thank you thank you thank you Megan, you are the greatest friend and woman who has ever breathed on Earth! I love you forever!

OK she didn’t say that last part but let’s go with it!

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