(Photo Erin McCann)
I’m generally not a fan of the term “Quarterlife crisis.” I would traditionally dismiss such a notion as “that’s just growing up, deal with it.” However, I think there are significant milestones as we reach adulthood where we come to understand just what it means to be on our own and making our own way.
For a very long time, I spent my life being uncomfortable with myself. In high school, I was very successful academically, and was involved in all sorts of activities. But, I never felt like I belonged. I was not particularly outgoing. I did not have a many friends. I was not at peace with myself.
I came to D.C. for college, and after school I floundered even more. I made some terrifically boneheaded mistakes in my personal life, and I had no idea what I wanted to do with myself after graduation. I bounced around several jobs, at times working for a temp agency, a hardware store, and a rock club. I quit my first salaried job to go on tour with a band to take photos. I ran out of money many times, and could not seem to find satisfaction in my own life or with a career.
But, it wasn’t until last year that I truly faced my crisis moment. I had spent the last several years feeling like I was trapped, but I didn’t know why. I had been making decision after decision based on the faulty assumption that I could not do the things I really wanted to do. I was often embarrassed by my experiences, falsely believing that I had missed the opportunity to do anything important with my life.
Last summer, I applied for a job in Madison, Wisconsin. It was a writing position with a technology company. I had convinced myself that leaving D.C. was the best course of action, and a chance to start something new. I began to have second thoughts as moving day approached. It was that familiar feeling of going through the motions and doing something you don’t want to do.
I tried to suppress the voice telling me not to move. I thought to myself, you have to do this, that’s what you do. As I drove my moving truck through Ohio, I felt something inside of me change very suddenly. It was the thought that I don’t have to do this. I can write my own story.
This time, it was different. This time, I went back. I found a whole new world waiting for me when I returned. I thought about everything that I had done in my life—all of my experiences—and I began to realize that my life story was something to be proud of, not something to run away from.
What I hadn’t understood earlier was that all of this had gotten me to a place where I could truly open myself up to the world. The world is so much bigger than you think, and there are more people than you imagine. I began to see that the only thing stopping me was myself, my own voice saying “no, don’t rock the boat. Don’t take that chance.”
And now, here we are. Out of my crisis I found my footing, and began to take the first steps towards what’s next. I launched a political campaign. I began to rethink my career possibilities. I’ve met so many new and amazing people. I’ve learned how to live, love, and look at the future in a whole new way.
If you are interested in contributing to the Quarterlife Crisis series feel free to contact me.