Ah…the Quarterlife Crisis. It was something I struggled with when I turned 25, because like so many 20-somethings, I didn’t feel like my life was where it was supposed to be. Luckily for me, 3 months later, I got a promotion, and was so busy looking out the window of my shiny new office and trying not to screw anything up TOO bad, that I thought I’d avoided the worst of the crisis. In fact, my recent 26th birthday was one of the few that I’ve truly celebrated in the last few years. So professionally, I don’t feel I could say there was a crisis—it was more of a hiccup.
Socially, life’s good. I have friends—I’m never without something (or 3 somethings) to do on a Friday night. My friends seem to think that I’m OK, and I think they’re pretty great too. I also manage to spend time going out and doing things that I enjoy. As a young, single professional, I’m able to do pretty much anything that strikes my fancy. Basically, life’s good based on the checklist.
What I recently realized (and it hit me particularly hard after reading Patrick’s quarterlife crisis post), is that my quarterlife crisis is far less tangible. Yes, this is where I wanted to be at 26 (for the most part), and while there are still things to cross off of the list, I’m on a relatively decent timeline for my goals. The problem was that I felt as though my life was stagnant. At first, I thought it was my job, but when the job changed and I still felt that way, I realized that wasn’t it. I looked into law school, into grad school, and decided that neither was something I really was ready to do at this point. Then I thought maybe I needed to rediscover some of my old passions, so I auditioned for a musical, and have been in rehearsals for the last month. It’s been fantastic, but still, something was off.
Then, it hit me. My entire life has had a plan, with a backup plan. All of it. I’ve never thrown myself into anything so completely that failure would be just that—a failure. Even when I was a teenager, I thought carefully through the consequences of my actions. The few times that I’ve “failed” have been blunted by carefully laid backup plans. I plan. It’s something I do, and it’s a part of who I am. But that portion of who I am has grown to the point that I’ve lost the passion in my life. I’ve been hurt, but it’s been minimal. I’ve never truly had my heart broken, or needed to start anything from scratch. My logical approach has been a good thing in general, but at some point I stopped allowing myself the luxury of throwing myself into something that may or may not be logical, and because of that, I’ve missed out on an important part of life.
So I’ve determined to allow myself to chase after things that aren’t logical every now and then. Follow my heart more often, and not let my head have quite so much say. After all, while there are some fantastic adventures to tell my future kids and grandkids, I should be able to empathize when they fall, and when their hearts get broken. I don’t want to wake up at 50 and realize that I’ve never allowed myself true passion in life.
Kendra is an optimist slowly turning realist, a young D.C. professional and compulsive planner. She earned her MA in Quarterlife Crises from Loss of Youth University in Washington, D.C. and is currently working on a cure.
If you are interested in contributing to the Quarterlife Crisis series feel free to contact me.