Life is like a rollercoaster; it’s thrilling, up and down, then pushes your adrenalin. Happy, sad, angry, down, you can name it; the feeling that we tend to have day by day. Sometimes we feel something too difficult to live with, sometimes we almost give up on the challenge, but in the end, we can go through it and become the winner of our life. It also happens to one of the points in my life, “my quarter-life crisis,” that we usually feel after we grow up in our twenties.
I started my crisis life after I finished my Bachelor's degree. I asked about my life goals, was afraid of the failure I needed to face, stopped getting financial help from my parent, got rejected after a full-time job application, and was clueless about my future. I am asking myself, what should I do with this uncertain life and looking poor to myself. I know that many people in their twenties feel the same as me, so rather than sit longer and pity myself, I try to figure out what I want to do. It’s not one night process to quit from the quarter-life crisis, even now I still battling with my mind about this. This article is written based on my experience about why I feel the crisis and how to tackle that slowly but surely.
Quarter Life Crisis ?
I’ve talked about what I feel about my quarter-life crisis, but what is it? According to Alexander Robbins and Abby Wilner in their Book Quarterlife Crisis: The Unique Challenges of Life in Your Twenties (2001), “the quarter-life crisis is essentially a period of anxiety and uncertainty that often accompanies the transition to adulthood”. Quarter Life Crisis is an individual’s trials and tribulations when making career choices, finances, living arrangements, and even love relationships that trigger individuals to feel often stressed, depressed, and lonely.
The Quarter-Life Crisis is also explained in the concept of emerging adulthood, which is a time when individuals explore themselves and their environment. The individual begins to realize his change towards maturity so that he is faced with various choices that determine the future. Indecision to make these choices initially encourages a sense of stress, but it is helpful for individuals to know themselves more deeply and make better preparations for the next life.
So, what are the symptoms?
- Feeling confused about the purpose of life;
- Stuck in the past, so it’s hard to live in the present;
- Often compare yourself with others;
- Hard to be satisfied with your current achievements;
- Difficult to make decisions, because of the fear of being a failure.
And, how to go through it?
Find your life goal
There are many ways to find your life goal, but the important thing is to believe in yourself and listen to your heart. Take your time and a piece of paper, ask yourself and try to figure out what you want to do, things you want to contribute, and what makes you happy and passionate about.
There are several frameworks that can help to draw your life goals. One of them is Ikigai, which is a Japanese concept that means your ‘reason for being. ‘Iki’ in Japanese means ‘life,’ and ‘gai’ describes value or worth. Your ikigai is your life purpose or your bliss. It’s what brings you joy and inspires you to get out of bed every day.
The Westernised version of ikigai says you’ve found your dream career (one of the life goal) when your career includes these four qualities:
- What you love
- What you’re good at
- What you can be paid for
- What the world needs
After you find your life goal, try to create a long and short-term plan for that significant purpose of your life. Create a list of the vision and mission and the expected duration to achieve it. I use the Star framework to create the action list and make it to my personal OKRs (Object and Key Result) evaluated every year.
I also do journaling with a to-do list to keep my daily progress. Some people may not be comfortable with this, but you can figure out the comfortable way to be on track to your goal. For example, there are many gamification apps to track your goal progress.
Stop comparing yourself with others
This is the most challenging part that I try to do in my quarter-life crisis. I tend to be insecure if I see more significant and better people than me. The point is how to control the feeling to compare because sometimes it can be a good thing like motivating us to work harder or bad for our self-esteem and life.
I like to use one framework about this is “Social comparison theory.” Social comparison theory is that individuals determine their own social and personal worth based on how they stack up against others. The theory was developed in 1954 by psychologist Leon Festinger. So when you try to compare, check it first. Is it beneficial or harm you? One thing I feel after finding my life goal, I tend to compare myself with people that have the same goal as me, so I focus on seeing the benefits and motivate myself to succeed like them.
Find your own support system
There is a quote that said, “Show me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are?”.
Your current friends are a reflection of you and are 100% your choice. A friend is someone you chose to spend time and associate with. The people you choose to be around shape your personality, the way you think, the way you speak, and the way you perceive the world.
So find a group of friends that support your life goal and can give you comfortable, support you, and keep you on track. Avoid the circle that has a “crab mentality” ( “if I can’t have it, neither can you”) tension because it will make you fall and stop growing. In contrast, you can find your role model and maybe befriend them, try to ask tips from them, how they live their life and you can elaborate it to your way of life.
Know yourself, accept yourself, listen to your heart
The important thing starts from the inner, it starts from yourself, nothing else. If you don’t believe in your competence, who will be? and if you don’t love yourself, how can we love others? Try to listen to your heart more frequent and learn to be mindful of yourself. Meditation can be one way to help you learn this step.
A quarter-life crisis is indeed such a tiring and challenging process, but it’s like a high mountain that we need to climb, and after we are at the peak, we can see the beautiful scenery of our life. Enjoy the process, go through it and feel the sweetness of the result :)