Quarter-Life Crisis and Whatnots: A Shortcoming It is Not

Life can be scary in your pre-adulthood age and no one states otherwise. It's probably quite fitting to label it as the "blood, sweat, and tears" stage of adulting, where you can't shortcut your way up to the top of the hill, and barriers feel more like a failure than a test.

According to the internet, a quarter-life crisis typically occurs in a period between your early twenties to the mid-thirties. It's the time of your life when you feel so anxious about your purpose and need. No matter how nonsense it might sound to the mature, you feel like your value is determined by the things you achieve. "Am I doing the right thing in life?"; "Am I following the path that I'm supposed to?"; "If I quit, then where does it leave me? Would I be worthless?"

It wouldn't be an understatement to say that my other posts are usually made with this rash disregard for the purpose beneath. Captivated by something summons the urge in me to write, and I will then drive myself to finish a post in a matter of days just to serve its one and only goal: sharing my love for storytelling. But this post is unlike the other in one and so many ways. For starters, it took me more than two months to finish this list. I took my time to dissect why this feeling is not a shortcoming, and I hope this list will help you go through the hard time that is in life:

1. You are valuable, no matter what you do or where you work

These days, I've been prone to anxiety more than ever. It gets worse on the bad days, when I feel like my worth is swayed by what I do in life, and whether I am good at it. My job feels important not because it's a passion, but rather because it gives me an unseen value. A value people will see and measure me with. A value that is out of my power to do anything about.

When I think about losing it, losing the unseen handle I've been so desperately holding on to, the anxiety starts to kick in. What am I without the routine that pays more than just the bills? What am I without the schedule to keep my purpose seem steady enough? What am I to others if even I cannot define myself?

It is truly a challenge to stop thinking that way, to turn the steering wheel around, away from a source that offers gleam and glistens. The reasons a person in their mid-20s could be so hard on themself are varied. Be it society, their own ambition, or even those impossible-to-imitate role models all around the internet. But I do know for sure that whatever the reason is, losing yourself to it does not feel good. It is wrong to value yourself less just because you can't be what you wanted yourself to be.

I've been learning to take a step back, to reevaluate my goals and put them more in line with my capacity and limit. If the ladder is too dangerous for me to climb, I will not push myself to get to the top of the building, no matter how marvelous people claim it is to be up there. If the stairs are too slippery, I will not run and be more careful with my step, however strong my shoe soles are. If it is time for me to quit my dream, I will be a bigger person. Instead of blaming myself for not being strong enough, I will give myself a nod on how far I have managed to strive.

I guess those words work like a mantra since I've been reading and repeating them so many times. I’m not what I do or where I’m good at. I mean, it is just a job, for goodness sake. There is no job good enough for you to lose yourself to.

2. Feeling lost and lonely is only temporary

Once in a job interview, group panel-style, a user asked this very question, "How did you see yourself in five years?" While I seemed to hesitate, people around me did not. Some answered, "I want to be a successful businessman," and one confidently answered, "I want to get married and maybe have a kid or two."

Five years seemed to me a very long period. A lot of things could happen in one day, so I definitely could not picture myself in that very long span. To picture me with a family of my own still seems like a hard thing to do, even now. Will I be like those lucky enough to be able to meet the love of my life? Or will I be spending most of my future days having fun with a group of friends, then going home to my favorite furry friend?

It's a question I constantly ask myself in my early 20s. A question, I believe, most of you like to wonder a lot too. And it's not always about that. Sometimes I wonder about friendship too, about who stays and who does not, and about the long-lost dream in my teenage years consisting of regular meet-ups with friends after work to casually laugh about everything when in reality I've been absent from the once-a-month gathering most of the time.

It did not bother me that much on the weekends I was too tired to go out. It did, however, construct an invisible gate that jailed me from those around me. I could not reach out for helpthe gate was unseen and thus questionable to mostbut I could actually help myself by getting out of it. The experience, weirdly, helped me be more thankful in life. Once the gate was decayed, I realized that I had always been surrounded by those who loved me without expecting anything. It's just that I had chosen to ignore them and chased the wild, fun experiences instead.

After the downs, I realize that feeling lost and lonely is not a strange thing to undergo. I believe most of us have been there before, some are still not completely immune to it even. But please always remember that the feeling is temporary. If it feels too much that you think it's going to crush you sooner or later, please remember that you are in your bad days and they are not forever. Close your eyes and try relishing the happiest moments with your loved ones your mind can conjure. I hope that will help, even for a little while.

3. When you feel mentally exhausted… just stop

During a lot of times earlier this year, I have declared how tired I am of work and its endless loads. At one point, I even thought that I had reached my peak of exhaustion. Little did I know that those times were actually nothing compared to what I had been feeling the last couple of weeks… how ironic.

It was more than just feeling tired and needing more sleep. It was more than just being eaten alive by your tight schedules and deadlines. I was mentally exhausted and it affected my life in a way I had never thought possible. Needless to say, I was in a dark place, hating everything I did just because, saying a lot of things I did not mean out of spite, and basically spiraling around an imaginary rope of bitterness.

If I were on a ship, I was slipping on the wet deck while everyone counted until I was properly drowned. It was a bad metaphor, I know, a dark thought brewing in my head, but I could not find the switch to stop it. I breathed wildly, trying to find solace in the jungle of water around me, but all I could manage was nothing but a squeak before I stopped trying altogether.

For a while, it felt like a defeat. More like a harder strike from the unknown below. But then I realized that it was exactly what I needed. I needed to surrender and quit trying. I needed to scream for help and let them bring out the sea steps. I needed to breathe normally and hold on to anything at hand. I mean, I owed it to myself to understand my own limit. At the very least, I needed not to do everything and to just… stop.

It was difficult and easy at the same time. I had been too stubborn to admit that I had reached my limit, but after the big defeat, it felt much easier to see clearly and prioritize my mental health first. I don’t want to always be on the very verge of drowning (it's clearly not anyone's fault; maybe it is just not for me). If I can’t handle the storm, I will bravely get off the board and quit.

No, I’m not quitting anything (yet) if that’s what you’re asking, though I’d like to believe that I have understood what being attentive to myself means: I have free choices regarding my whereabouts, and I will use it wisely.