Lessons from my Quarter-life Crisis

By now you’re probably either; laughing at the headline of this blog post (a quarter-life crisis?! Really?!), or your spirit resonates with the emotions that come with such a theme. I’ll put it out there, this is real. For many pre-millennials, this might sound like the ramblings of a privileged youth. What do we know? Right? We haven’t really experienced life like you have and with all the opportunities at our disposal today, what is there to complain about? Maybe you’re right, but many millennials have become very familiar with this stage in life, and rather than shoving it aside as a joke, perhaps it’s time we started asking ‘why?’.

Quite frankly, the world millennials live in is entirely different to the previous generations. The amount of information given to the average person is unimaginable, not to mention the speed of which we receive these thanks to the internet and social media channels. You can hardly log on to Facebook without seeing a story of a young startup entrepreneur who has sold an idea for millions, so how are we not going to compare ourselves to them?

I recently went through this crisis, and I’m still deep in it, to be honest. 2017 has been a very challenging year so far as I’m learning to come to grips with reality. While I’m here, I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned along the way.

Anxiety and the Imposter Syndrome

There’s been a lot of talks recently about mental health and depression. It’s a serious thing, so I’m not going to be one of those people that use the term “depression” because I’m going through a tough time. However, I will admit that I’ve had an intense feeling of anxiety in relation to the future and where I am at present. Sometimes life throws you a curve ball and everything that made sense once upon a time and made you feel content can be the source of distress. The feeling of uncertainty can be so heavy that you end up paralyzed and not wanting to do anything at all. Then there are the added effects of the imposter syndrome, telling you you’re not good enough. It’s like having an imp whisper lies in your ear. This for me has resulted in a drop of confidence in my area of work, amongst other things

If this sounds familiar to you and you have worries about the future, take it from me, let the future take care if itself. You could try and swim up a waterfall with all your might but it won’t make a difference. You’re human, live for today.

You’re young, you’ve got time

Ever since the rise of Facebook, everyone’s been looking for the next young genius that will disrupt the way we do things. There’s a kind of gold rush to make a ground breaking APP or product before someone else does it. In reality, a lot of the products that we use today took plenty of time to become something that anybody would use. The story of Airbnb is an example of this, even Instagram. These started as simple concepts by people who were put through the ringer to get to their goal, and with the way things are right now, if they don’t continue to evolve they could easily become a thing of the past, just like MySpace. There are also many other great stories of people who found success in their 40s and 50s.

You’ve got all the time in the world to experience what you need to in order to become that person you want to be. You don’t have to be a millionaire before you’re 30. We’re chasing after something so rare that we’ve forgotten to enjoy the journey.

Dealing with defeat

About 3 months before writing this post, my website broke down. This devastated me, especially when I was just getting into blogging. O’ the plans I had! When I was doing some changes in my server I accidentally deleted all my source files. My website was gone, and it crushed me.

Yes, I had a backup, but after a couple of tries getting it up and running again, I thought, “I don’t care anymore”. With all the stuff going on in my mind, this was the trigger that set me off into despair. Even now that I have it fixed up, I still don’t feel the same way I once felt, as I’m now trying to reinvent myself.

What does this all mean?

Change is inevitable. Call it destiny, God’s will, a series of unfortunate events, whatever, but it forced me to look at life from a new perspective. I seriously asked myself, “what if I never get this website up and running again? Does it even make a difference?”. Our outlook on life is constantly evolving as we grow, and sometimes it takes something drastic for us to stop struggling and embrace it. I haven’t reached where I’m going yet, but I know I’m not the same person I was at the end of 2016, neither will I be the same person by the end of 2017… and I’m fine with it.

Find something to get lost in

One thing that’s really kept me sane during this period of my life is my love for song writing and music. Playing the keyboard at my church has been my way of escaping from life’s troubles. While I’m playing, I’m not thinking about anything else and I’m getting lost in the moment. All I care about is the sound. I feel most alive when I’m doing this. It might be the element of freedom as I’m improvising with the progressions and working in sync with the other musicians.

Finding something to get lost in will help ease the heaviness you might feel. For me it’s music, for others it might be scuba driving, or dancing, or simply going for a run. Your favourite hobby can very easily be your panic room when things seem unbearable.

You’re not alone

Be around people. I’m not even telling you to say anything to anybody. But be around your friends and family as much as you can, because their presence alone can make such a difference.

Humans are social beings, we’re not built to be alone. Some people are put in solitary confinement as a punishment because being alone for a long period of time can have severe effects on the mind. Don’t punish yourself, you’ve done nothing wrong.

Explore the unfamiliar. The world is too big to stay in one place

You’re just one spec in a rapidly evolving world, it would be a waste not to explore it. While you’re still discovering yourself through this crisis, try new things, go to new places, meet new people. The world is way too big and there are plenty of experiences to be had. This is your story, so it’s up to you how you fill in the pages.

All of this has just been based on my experience. Even though everyone’s story is unique, I hope it’s been helpful to those of you experiencing a similar thing. I’d like to know what you think. If you have any further advice please share in the comments section. You can even email me, I’d love to have a chat.