At the age of 32 I am on my second quarter-life crisis.
Maybe my third?
Maybe I started crisising at age 24 and still haven’t stopped eight years later?
My first crisis came just three years after college, when I was working in the glamorous and sexy world of insurance sales. I was desperately dating any nice church-going boy that I could find on Christian dating sites and sharing Bible studies and chaste kisses good night in the parking lot by our respective vehicles. I was living at home and watching Jeopardy every night at 7:30 PM with my parents.
Then one day I got an email from a colleague at another sales office. “My boss was gossiping this morning and apparently your boss is talking about firing you.”
My stomach sank into my stillettos.
“You had to see this coming” my subconscious snarked at me. “You barely put any more than the minimal effort in here and you aren’t even very good when you do.”
I rarely thought of my life as any sort of future. I had been dropped onto the conveyor belt that was life and was rolling along. I barely noticed when a mechanical arm picked me up and spun me around, adding a new feature or updating my packaging. Blinking a bit at the jolt, I’d get dropped back on the belt, on to the next task that life had planned.
I gave my notice a week later.
I started out so proud of myself. So ready. I am a smart, confident, talented young woman for whom the sky is the limit. It was a mantra my parents and teachers told me throughout my entire upbringing. The world was my oyster and I was ready to slurp that thing down the back of my throat without a second thought.
Over the next year I tried starting my own event planning business (which failed miserably – most of the time I can’t relate to 99% of humanity). I worked as an assistant director at a children’s summer camp. I took a job in public relations where I worked for the Maine equivalent of Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada. I was still living at home and still dating boys between revivals and devotions.
Nothing was turning out the way I had envisioned it. My crisis grew into a deeper crisis that was causing me to have a massive anxiety crisis.
I didn’t know what else to do. I tried living the fast and exceptional world that all the blogs and books tell us about, but it didn’t work. Screw you Tim Ferriss. Four Hours My Ass.
So I went back to what I knew. I got a job in insurance sales again. I moved out of my parents house and into a boarding house with 6 other young adults. I began dating guys who were absolutely NO good for me…and dating is a generous term.
For five years I played this game: climbing the corporate ladder, dazzling colleagues with my business strategy insights, sales and marketing prowess, and drank half of them under the table with a bottle of Grey Goose. I was set for whatever I wanted career wise. As for the rest of my life…it wasn’t what I wanted. I still hadn’t been in a relationship since I was 18 years old (a mere…cough cough…dozen years prior) and I was still living with roommates. The conveyor belt had pulled me along for five years and I had barely noticed.
“Who has a second quarter-life crisis,” I thought despairingly, “Especially at the age of 30! You are supposed to have your shit together by now.”
With crazy abandon and foolish intentions, I quit my job to begin freelance writing and editing. For the first few months, I was actually happy. Sure, I was still lonely and alone. Still living with roommates. Now eating an unmentionable amount of gluten-free ramen noodles in an attempt to keep costs down.
Within six months my business had failed. I had less than $4 in my checking account. I was collapsing in my parents kitchen in a heap of defeat and overwhelming emotion.
“You have GOT to be kidding me” my subconscious screamed at me. “Again? We’re here AGAIN? Six months ago you were introducing Chris Guillebeau to a room full of people beaming at your ‘I broke free and you can too’ story and now you are a big fat flailing on the floor failure.”
So again, I went back to what I knew. What I knew was safe enough to rebuild my reserves and would leave me unfulfilled enough that I would not want to stay. For another three months I got up every morning with the shrill “beep beep beep” of my alarm and dragged myself to an office to sell insurance.
Then, one day I was reading a popular blog online. That was hiring for a new copywriter to add to their business team. Bonus Perk? The job was based in Bali, Indonesia.
“Pffft!! What. In. The. Effing. Eff. Are. You. Thinking? We. Are. Not. Going. There. Again.”
Shut up subconscious!
It took me a week to psyche myself up to apply. Honestly, I didn’t think I had any chance of getting it. Then I got a Skype interview. Then another. I explained why I thought they were thinking too small in their job posting and how they needed to think way bigger if they wanted to scale. Then those crazy bastards hired me.
Two-and-a-half months later I was on my way to Bali.
Less than 6 weeks after my arrival I was sedated in an Indonesian hospital after a massive leg infection landed me in emergency surgery at 3 AM. I called my Dad in near tears when I got home four days later.
“I just want to come home” I sobbed at him.
“Do you remember the bike-a-thon we did when you were 10 years old” he asked.
“No,” I sniffled.
“We were riding along and huge motorhome blew past you. Knocked you off your bike into the grass. You cried at me that you wanted to stop. I didn’t let you quit then, and I won’t let you quit now.”
Three months later I’m sitting in a street cafe in Chiang Mai, Thailand sipping a peanut butter and banana smoothie while watching everyone shop the stalls of the Sunday Night Market.
Our lives…they don’t always turn out how we expect. Shockingly the world is not constantly filled with sparkling unicorns and glistening double rainbows. That doesn’t mean we give up. It doesn’t mean we settle. It doesn’t mean that we aren’t destined for great things.
It just means that we have to get up, dust off our sliced up knees, and try again.
Elisa Doucette is a freelance writer & editor who travels the globe creating compelling content and looking for irresistible stories to tell while making words sexy. You can find out more about her writing and editing at ElisaDoucette.com, follow her journey from behind the scenes while writing her first novel at Being The Author, or
stalk chatter with her on Twitter.
If you are interested in contributing to the Quarterlife Crisis series feel free to contact me.