There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re lost in life.
And I’m not talking about having the occasional “woe is me” type of day. I mean a prolonged feeling of uncertainty and fear of the future. A feeling that pulls you from happiness and creates a constant sense of worry and self doubt.
What about when you have that feeling early on? What if you start to experience the passion-crushing anxiety of not being enough at, say, age 25?
I’m of course referring to what is now known as the “quarter life crisis.”
For those of you out there that have gone through, or are currently going through, the quarter life crisis, I believe you will find this piece worthwhile. If you can relate and you get value from this post, then I have succeeded.
I have a lot of first hand experience with the phenomenon of a quarter life crisis and can remember vividly what it feels like to lay in your bed, staring blankly at the ceiling, wondering what you’re going to do with your life. Remembering the way things used to be. The carelessness and freedom that was your existence.
Now, I’ve been lucky enough to have ambition on my side, so I typically go after things I want with a fire. However, I’d be lying if I said that fire didn’t burn down to a flicker at times.
I’m a huge fan of metaphors (and the occasional pun) and I’ve found that many people are able to relate real life to metaphors in very effective ways. The metaphor I’m about to share with you helped me to identify who I really was and what I had to do to take back control of my life.
So allow me to illustrate my points with that metaphor. This was the exact scenario I came up with one day lying in bed:
All my life I’ve felt like I was on a spaceship headed for the moon. As each year passed, I was a little closer to my final destination.
First grade goes into second grade; one step closer to the moon.
Fifth grade moves to sixth grade; even closer.
Then high school flies by and I’m thrust into college; really close now.
And with each passing year, the moon (my goals) gets bigger and bigger. It’s becoming more of a reality now that I’m going to reach my destination.
In that final year of college, all the excitement begins to build and I’m so excited to get out into the world and make something of myself. I’ve been through the ups and downs of school life and I can’t wait to join the work force. The moon is literally in front of my face.
And then, something unexpected happens.
I’m ejected from the cockpit.
Floating aimlessly through space, weightless, I’m watching the moon drift further and further away from me.
Everything I’ve been shooting for all my life is now fading from my vision. My only chance to survive is to make my way back to the moon. Only this time, I don’t have a spaceship.
See, for the majority of our pre-college life, everything is already planned out for us. There is a natural progression to things.
You go to school, and graduate. With each year, you move up into a different grade level. It’s what’s expected of us and it is the widely accepted norm.
We don’t question where our food comes from, we have no real sense of the economy, and the only experience we have with bills is that they are the crinkly pieces of mail blocking our money-filled birthday cards.
Even as we get into our latter years of education, we still have a low count of responsibilities compared to the real world.
School and education makes us better at taking tests; it does nothing to teach us the proper negotiation strategies involved in asking our boss for a raise.
We haven’t yet been taught what the value of a “peak savings day” is for our electric bill.
No lessons were taught on how to deal with the grief and pain of losing a loved one.
There were never any pop quizzes on what to do when you’re struggling to find a job, despite your best efforts, and rent is due.
These are all the life-lessons we learn the hard way. And they are what make us or break us. By encountering the tough times, the hardships, and the uncertainties, we make our way back to the moon. The difference this time is that it is entirely up to us.
If you’re feeling like you’re even more lost now than you were before the article, don’t worry. I’m here to help.
To break the funk that is the quarter life crisis, there are three key components you must follow.
Focus on what is actually important.
We have a tendency to focus on a million things at once and then, ultimately, not act on a single one. Usually, we tend to focus on negativity a lot more than optimism. Here’s the catch: Negative mindsets produce negative outcomes.
If you want a job, a relationship, a house, a car, to feel better, whatever the case may be, you need to focus on the important and most necessary aspects of those pursuits. The more focus you can devote to getting what you want, the more chances you’ll get it.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with you.
You may not be where you set out to be yet. You may feel like every day is a struggle. You may feel lost and out of control. Maybe you’ve lost your sense of self-worth.
Do not lose sight of who you are by comparing yourself to others or thinking that you should be somewhere else by now. Everyone takes their own time to find their own way. Use the time you have now to explore your interests, pursue your passions, and become the best version of yourself you can be. You will find your way. Don’t be so hard on yourself. After all, you’ve never been taught how to deal with this before!
Someone else has already become successful in what you want to do. Follow them.
Here’s a lesson I learned a long time ago that has helped me through countless “I have no idea what to do” moments: Model someone.
Someone, somewhere, has gone through what you’ve gone through and knows how to overcome the feeling. They’ve also most likely become successful in some pursuit. Rather than reinvent the wheel and try to figure everything out for yourself, reach out to them. You’d be amazed at how many people are willing to help you when you seek out their counsel. Everyone likes feeling like they’re the expert, and are more than happy to give advice.
Whether you know of a family member that can help, a friend with similar interests, you seek out a coach to help you such as myself, anything! Just don’t let the fear of not knowing what to do stop you from living a full life.
I do want to offer one final piece of guidance to anyone reading along. It’s tattooed on my body and a mantra that I live by every single day to remind myself that I don’t have to be perfect:
“In weakness, we find our true strength.”
Now, go make your way back to the moon.
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