The Quarter-Life Crisis: Finding Direction in your Twenties
The Oxford English Dictionary describes “limbo” as “an uncertain period of awaiting a decision or resolution.” Or even worse, “a state of neglect or oblivion.”
I can relate.
I am one of many who are at that awkward point in their mid-twenties – a strange limbo, where if you aren’t married, having children, maintaining a successful career, travelling the world, and/or achieving some other substantial goal, you feel kind of lost, pathetic, and a little ashamed.
Like many of my peers, I find myself leading a life of mediocrity. I am bored, unfulfilled and discontent. I am disappointed in myself, because I have always been a deeply passionate person, and I never wished to settle for second-best. I have always felt each individual should pursue the things that offer them deep, genuine fulfillment and happiness. For some, that means marriage, children and a home. For others, it means a nomadic lifestyle of freedom and independence. For myself, the ideal life would conform more to the latter; I want to read, I want to write, and I want to travel. I want to experience new things and to never stop learning.
But at 25, I find myself awfully unaccomplished in regards to these desires.
To make my long story short: Over the past 6 years I have worked multiple part-time, minimum wage jobs. I have stayed in the same town (for the most part.) I attained a college education, after which I began a Bachelor’s degree of English. I am currently working as a waitress. And obviously, I am unsatisfied. That is not to say that I am not appreciative or thankful for my life. I am, truly. But there has always been something missing.
I divulge this personal experience because I feel that many twenty-somethings are similarly lacking a sense of direction. I believe that many of us have simply settled for our lifestyles. Some of us have settled with working and paying the bills. Some of us have settled with living paycheck-to-paycheck. Some of us have settled for minimum-wage jobs. Some of us have settled for mediocre relationships. Some of us have had children or tied the knot, solely because it was the apparent “next step.” Some of us have settled into an academic routine, simply because it was expected.
Despite our different choices and the various reasons for our discontent, many of us share feelings of dissatisfaction and an apathetic attitude toward life which screams, “Fine, I submit.”
I am confident that many of us are not satisfied with these lives. And if we don’t change it now, we are likely to settle even deeper into mediocrity and apathy. We will try to justify our unhappy circumstances by attempting to convince ourselves and others that this is the life we want. And we will believe ourselves, because it would be even more difficult to admit that we have settled for such terribly unsatisfying circumstances.
For many twenty-somethings, this vicious circle has already begun. If we don’t acknowledge and change it soon, we will continue to remain passive toward our lives. We – the unsatisfied, misguided, twenty-somethings stuck in limbo – must have the courage to pursue the unique paths that suit us as individuals. We must uphold and chase our true passions in life, whatever they may be. We must not settle for apathy and ennui. We must renounce society’s tendencies, and turn the focus inward on our personal desires. We must have the courage to never settle or conform with anything aside from our own lifestyle preferences.
If we find ourselves succumbing to a dull life of mediocrity so early in our years, it will be surprisingly easy to continue settling for that life. If we wish to live the lifestyle we truly desire, we must choose to do so. And we must never stop choosing.
And perhaps this “epiphany” sounds cliché, like those inspiring quotes that are splattered all over social media – those quotes that bombard our screens and lose their impact due to ill-treatment and overuse.
And perhaps this epiphany was easier realized by others than it was by myself; I know many twenty-somethings who have managed to attain a lifestyle truly satisfying for themselves, and they offer examples of people who had it all figured out a hell of a lot earlier than I did. These individuals also symbolize the potential some of us have yet to meet.
But I am confident that there are others like me. I am sure there are people who have allowed their passions and pursuits to be narrowed, unknowingly settling into a life of dissatisfaction and boredom. And it is for these people that I wrote all this down. To these people I say:
Don’t fall victim to mediocrity. Stop being apathetic. Make a choice to pursue the life that will offer you satisfaction, fulfillment and genuine happiness. Make a choice to make a change. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it.
And never stop choosing. Because if you’re not choosing, you’re settling.