So you're stuck in your quarter-life crisis. Sucks, doesn't it? It's a pretty lame time. And what makes it worse are the articles out there that simply give you advice on how to just get by during this phase. Ew. We don't want to 'just get by.' We want this nasty business to be over, please. I mean, if you're going to sit here and read an article, you'd probably like some concrete advice on how to get out of this hellish phase, stat.
I feel ya.
So, for all of you out there that actually want to do something about this awkward time, here is how to unapologetically drop kick your quarter-life crisis into last week.
1. Stop Comparing. Now.
Comparing is probably what got you in this mess in the first place. Let me guess--you logged on Facebook, saw all of the pretty careers and pretty weddings and pretty babies, and cried yourself to sleep. (I mean, I don't know this from personal experience or anything...)
But you cannot compare the beginning of your journey to the middle of someone else's. You have to stay focused on your own path, your own pace, and your own goals. Comparing is crap. It will only make you second guess EVERY decision you've already semi-made. It's totally ok that you will never be able to achieve someone else's life. That's not your purpose. Your purpose is to live your own.
So, no more comparing. No more judging. Get a new hobby, k?
2. Talk About It.
Most of us feel really ashamed about feeling stuck, and instead choose to play the whole 'life is swell' card at cocktail parties and wedding showers. But in reality, we all have felt rather crappy at one point or another, and ALL we wanted to do is blab about it to a kind soul that would listen. Scratch that--anybody who would listen. But oh...it's so embarrassing. No one wants to admit life isn't turning out the way they wanted. Especially not when Facebook is a glowing advertisement for how everyone else is doing SOOOOO MUCH BETTER.
But you gotta buck up.
Be the brave one, and talk about it. You don't have to talk about it to everyone--but try talking to your best friend. If that doesn't work, try a family member. And if that doesn't work, well then you need some new humans in your life. Just kidding--go talk to a life coach! We specialize in that stuff! (And we're the BEST.) The point is, in order to get out of this crisis, you must release these ugly feelings holding you back. Get them out of your system by vocalizing everything it is that you feel. Be heard. Be validated. Because guess what? This is normal. Yes, this crisis is completely normal. Trust us, you're not alone.
And in those dark moments when you really feel down about yourself, remember that you're handling it a lot better than Amy.
3. Quit 'Should-ing' Yourself.
Ah, expectations. Such a-holes. They torment you and tease you and make you feel like anything you have ever accomplished in your life is as puny as puny can be. So let's get rid of them! Stop SHOULD-ING yourself.
I should be married by now. I should have my dream job by now. I should be making this amount of money by now. I should be happier.
Stop beating yourself up for these phantom accomplishments you were "supposed" to achieve. Let yourself just be! You want to know how I already know you're awesome? (Other than the fact that you're reading this.) Because you're worried about your future. You care. You're spiraling into a hazy fog because you are so freaked out over the fact that you might not have an awesome life. And THAT above anything else is a great indicator for the opposite.
You will get through this, because you want purpose. You want meaning. You want happiness. And if you want those things, you will get those things, because you will work for them. So give yourself a break, and let these extreme expectations go.
No more deadlines, no more age limitations, and definitely no more should-ing. You know you're doing it--whether you want to admit it or not.
4. Do Some Self Due Diligence.
Once you've cut out those masochistic behaviors, it's time to move on to the fun stuff. Now...the big question: Do you know yourself? Like, really know yourself? Many of us think we do...but it usually turns out that we're more familiar with our fave character from Friends than we are ourselves.
So get to know yourself. I want all of you to research your personalities. Myers-Briggs. Enneagram. The Big Five. Whatever test you can get your hands on, do it. And don't roll your eyes at me! These personality tests open the doors to really exploring who you are, what you love, what you hate, and where you thrive. So where to take these tests? I love this one and this one, and also this one.
Note: No, these tests do not DEFINE you, but they do give a blueprint for where to start. And bonus--they give insights into strengths and weaknesses, careers, relationships, and more. If you feel stuck, there is a reason, and you need to make a change. But a lot of times, we either a) don't know what to change or b) know what to change, but don't know how. These tests can help. They can give you direction and clarity. Take the tests, read up on the results, and let me know what you find out.
Spoiler alert: You're going to realize you're the a super legit human.
Ok, now for the super fun stuff. Do you spend any part of your time daydreaming? If you're not, you need to start. It's awesome. Try to daydream before bed, at the gym, in the shower...whenever you have time. Visualize yourself in five years, ten years, twenty years. Don't limit yourself. What does it look like? What are you excited about? What have you achieved?
It's fun, right?
Now, compare your vision to the personality tests you just took. Where are there similarities? Are there traits that you may possess that would naturally make you great at these future endeavors? Told ya.
Through daydreaming you can tap into what it is you really want. You can see yourself happy and accomplished. You can put out into the universe those desires that you've been hiding. You know how when you feel bad, more crappy things seem to happen? Yeah, me too. But imagine the opposite! You put these super happy thoughts out into the world, and all of a sudden, you feel way better about where it is that you're going. Maybe you're not there today, but you now have an idea as to where you will end up. And that right there is a fabulous start. Keep on dreamin'.
YEAH THEY DO!
Ok, now that you have some glimpse of a life that you really want, it's time to research how to get there. Maybe in your dream you saw yourself as an accomplished professional in a specialized field. Great--time to look up some certification or graduate programs. Perhaps you saw yourself on this awesome creative endeavor. Also great! So maybe it's time to quit your day job, start bartending, and get to work. Maybe you saw a special romantic someone (aww!). So let's make dating a priority! Whatever it is that you believe will be the key to a fulfilling life, there is no reason not to explore it.
Spend a few hours a week browsing the Internet, reading articles, or talking to people in the sake of research. Chances are you will end up piggy backing off of your original idea, and that's even better. Be precise, because the more specific you get, the easier it will be to achieve what you want. Have funnnnnn!
7. Find Support.
It's hard to change your life on your own. Sure, you can do it, but why would you want to when other people can join the cause? You've already talked about the things you didn't like (refer to #2---keep up please!), so now is the time to share the happy things. The things that you want. The things that you are actively trying to achieve. Let your friends and family HELP you. You never know what their networks or expertise can offer.
On another note, now is the time to try and find some sort of a mentor figure. Somebody who you look up to, somebody who may have the same interests as you, and definitely someone with more experience than you. Listen to them. Take some advice. Let them help you set some small goals to reach. It's awkward at first, but after you get some clean cut verbal affirmations, you'll know it's worth it.
8. Put Yourself Out There.
So you've researched and dreamt and talked and all of those good things. Now it's time to give it a whirl. You want to be a writer, eh? Well then, it's time to write. Put some words down on paper. Submit them to publications. Start a blog. Outline a book. You want to be a photographer? Take some pics. Post 'em on Facebook. (And send me the link please!) You want to be a nurse? Enroll in a class. Buy a few books. And if you want a partner in life--you gotta go out and meet one. It doesn't matter how big or small it is, just take at least one action to get you moving.
I just want to note, that yes, this is scary as hell. What if you fail? What if it's embarrassing? What if you don't think you're any good? It's so normal to get caught up in these paralyzing thoughts. So let's go through them.
What if you fail? Well, you won't. You might not like it, or it might not come together all at once, but that's not failing. If you give it enough shots to know that something really isn't clicking with you, no big deal. So go back to #4 and start dreaming. It's not that you failed, it's that you need to pivot.
What if it's embarrassing? It's always awkward the first time you really take yourself seriously. For instance, you can talk about working out all day long, but the first time you try out the treadmill, you almost feel like a fraud. And that person next to you is running REALLY fast...and...now you want to leave. But don't! Every marathon runner started somewhere. (And yes, please extrapolate this to other activities!) After you keep trying, it will feel more and more comfortable. All of a sudden, the gym isn't as intimidating. Working out is actually fun after a few weeks! I mean, kind of. Well it's not dreadful. So keep going!
What if you're not any good? If you seriously feel like you aren't good at what you are trying to accomplish, you haven't given it enough time. And the reality is, the ONLY thing that matters is that you enjoy it. I love Malcolm Gladwell's theory that experts are experts, because they spent hours and hours perfecting their craft. They aren't fabulous because they have this unique and inherent talent---they are fabulous because they kept at it. (Even Macklemore agrees.) If you enjoy this new change in your life, the skills will follow.
Just do me one favor--do not take yourself out of the competition before it's even started. Give yourself a chance, and put yourself out there. If you do not limit yourself right off the bat--you just might surprise yourself.
9. Invest in Yourself.
School costs money. Websites cost money. Coaches cost money. LIFE costs money. Do not be afraid to put money, time, and effort into yourself. There's no need to feel selfish. You deserve a shot at a happy and fulfilling life, and most of the time that requires some self spendin'. That's just the reality. So don't feel like a brat just because you need to spend some money on yourself. These investments can and will pay off in the future.
Remember -- you do not have to go through these times alone. The quarter-life crisis can be a real b*tch, and it's important that you find people to help (just like we talked about in #7!) Trust that you'll get through it and come out on the other side better than ever. Here's to looking forward to the later half of our 20's!
If you want to learn more, come say hi to me over here! I do life coaching with some other awesome people, and we'd love to chat. We also have an awesome blog that's home to lots of fun articles, like the this original one! Thanks for reading this article...love ya mean it.
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