Tantrums, tears, fights, breakdowns.
Confusion, anger, bitterness, isolation, frustration.
October has really not been my month. I hate to bitch and moan about my trivial, privileged “problems” because 1) it could be so, so, so much worse, and 2) all I’ve been doing for weeks on end is bitch and moan to my friends, family, coworkers, random Internet acquaintances… Someone really should have put me in a muzzle by now.
Multiple times a week I’ve been finding myself thinking, I think I’m having a QUARTER LIFE CRISIS. What am I DOING with my life?
My friends and I have always been devout believers in LIVING, EXPERIENCING, TRAVELING, TASTING, BEING over all else. I’ve vowed to never stop chasing adventure and life and laughter and light and seasons and all of those other hippie-dippie ideals. I’ve impulsively booked flights to Europe just because I had enough money in my checking account and I wanted to; I moved back in with my parents this spring in order to save more money for more trips around the world. I am certain about next to nothing about my future — Where is my ‘career’ going? Should I be dating more (read: at all)? Do I even want a boyfriend? I want a dog. Should I get a dog? Where should I move next? Why do I get so restless in one place? Why can’t I make up my mind? Why can’t I stay anywhere for longer than 6 months? Do I have issues with commitment? Why can’t I be “normal” like everybody else?
And after these thoughts go around and around in my head, day after day, week after week, I always come back to the same realization: a deep-rooted desire to explore new places is the only consistency in my life.
As I sit in my cubicle, I often find myself feeling unfulfilled, drained, anxious. By working these 9-5 jobs since I graduated college, I’ve put my true goals and desires on the back burner, choosing to instead work a “real” job in the “real” world. My dreams of writing have become something to make a half-assed attempt at if I happen to have some extra time lying around, because writing is just a silly hobby that anyone can do — it isn’t something you can make a career out of. I’ve been rushing into jobs because in that moment, I’m afraid nothing better will come. I snatch them up, half-knowing that they aren’t right for me, only to find myself unbearably miserable three months in.
I know, I know… No one gets their dream job straight out of college. Be patient. Otherwise, we’d have nothing to strive for… right? But it’s undeniable that I’m not ready for this kind of routine (maybe I never will be), and I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that IT’S OKAY to not want to take the traditional route to “success.” It’s okay to want to escape it and do things on my own terms. It’s okay to want to take a daring, probably-naive, probably-idealistic leap of faith and start living the way I want to — a life unbound from someone else’s structure and rules and ideas. I want to write and photograph and explore and collaborate with people who have a thirst for the kind of things I do. They exist. They’re out there and I know they will welcome me into their world of a personalized kinds of freedom.
If sustaining a lifestyle with more creative liberty and adventurous opportunities means taking a part-time job at a book store or a coffee shop just to get by, so be it. If it means I’ll have to rough it for awhile and stop impulse-buying and sell all of my things, so be it — I don’t need any of that crap anyway. If it means I’ll have a weird section of my resume that didn’t follow the pre-decided, safe route for a career, so be it. I’m blindly confident that by following a path that feels deeply and genuinely right for me, everything will work out somehow. Because it has to.
There’s no timer; there’s no deadline. Yet it feels as if I’m teetering on the edge of two very different life paths. My restless soul is finally saying, ENOUGH! to the humdrum and the stagnation — now is the time to make my decision. On one hand, I could go on living a life of mundanity, a life of working 9-5 and commuting amid hurried, distracted drivers on their cell phones, a life of living for the weekends and mental exhaustion and stifling burnout. Isn’t that what I went to college for? Wasn’t this the goal? Or…
On the other, I could ditch conventionality and take a risk. I could move far away and explore new landscapes and a new city. I could go out into the world, acutely aware of the significantly higher chance of failure — in a traditional sense, anyway— than if I had continued plodding along at my desk job. I could leave knowing I’ll be much lonelier far away than at home, with only the outline of a plan to guide me, no final draft. This option would force me to confront doubts in myself and meet new people and try new things. This option is exponentially scarier, but it’s simultaneously the most freeing thing I could ever do for myself. I could (at the risk of sounding cliché…) take a real shot at accomplishing some dreams.
Isn’t it so very obvious which way I should go?
So am I going through a “quarter life crisis”? A time of drama and insanity? As the not-quite-late, great John Mayer once said, it might be a quarter life crisis, or just the stirring in my soul. I don’t want to be a person who “puts in the time” for 30 years, squashing the creativity and words and ideas and thoughts that want to flow freely from my mind with each day that passes. I don’t want to look back and regret chances I never took. How could I do that to myself? Why would I want to?
Others might look at me & my indecision and think I’m flaky, meek, unstable, sad, weak, pitiful. In fact, I know that most people will try to discourage these endeavors I’ve been developing and tweaking in my brain for the past few months. None of that negativity matters though, because I know that taking time to do things that are good for my soul will only encourage and inspire my work. I know what’s next and I’m now in the preparation-for-departure stages. I don’t want to give away too much, because no exact dates or figures are set in stone, and I’ve been known to change minute details on a whim. But it’s happening and I’m excited and nervous and a little terrified and thank God for that — because those are the precise reasons I need to go.