So the other day, I asked one of my friends, “Hey, I’m looking for a new idea for a post.”
“I’m looking for a new idea for my life!” They quipped.
Are you in your twenties and find yourself confused about what you want to do with your life? Everybody is telling you the world is your oyster but you seem to be missing the know-how to open it? Well, congratulations, you’re having a quarter-life crisis! I personally think the main reason why people like us tend to have quarter-life crises is because we’ve been incubated (by parents, teachers…etc.) for so long that the moment we take the wheel, our reality doesn’t match the image in our heads of how it’s supposed to be and so….
Besides panic, there’s also dissatisfaction, frustration, annoyance, and just about every other negative feeling in the book. You name it, we feel it. What’s worse, these feelings get compounded by our social media addiction. As we see our peers visibly checking off their milestones in picture-perfect moments, it’s very easy to feel inadequate and ‘left behind’. So what do we do?
1.First of all, stop comparing your life with the life of others. Your narrative is unique. Diversity is what adds richness to our societies. It’s what makes things interesting. So let go of the expectation that milestones are supposed to occur at specific times during your lifetime. I have an awesome friend in her thirties who’s an entrepreneur, artist, and leader in the creative field in Mombasa. While she’s busy conquering the world with her ideas, she gets bombarded by the question, “When are you planning to get married?”
It’s like society is totally blind to all the things she’ s accomplished in her life and the only thing they’re focusing on is the one thing she doesn’t have. And I have to admit it’s hard not to be affected by such remarks and questions from society, but we have to just develop a thick skin. There’s no other way around it. Alternatively, put on your earpods and tune them out. Literally.
2.Know thyself. I don’t think I can emphasize this enough because we live in a world where our perceptions of ourselves is highly influenced by the people around us. However, it’s important to turn down all that noise and know our strengths, our weaknesses, what we want, how we’re planning to get there, what motivates us, what’s not working in our lives and needs to change…
A lot of people I know persevere with jobs they hate because they understand their ‘whys’. They work hard and keep their eyes on the prize. In the end they recognize it was worth it.
But it doesn’t matter because every experience teaches them a lesson, and they learn to put one step in front of the other, the way they used to when they were learning to walk.
3.Live your values. It’s easy to make a list of our values and watch it collect dust. But life gets more fulfilling when we start living by them. If you’re from the Middle East and you’re a fan of Khawater by Ahmed Alshugairi, you’ll remember how he used to always have ‘Ihsaan’ as a value he lived by and explored during the eleven seasons of his show. Imagine you’re the star of your own khawater show; what’s the personal value you live by and try to incorporate in your everyday life?
4.Prune your relationship landscape. Just like gardeners need to prune shrubs so they would look better, sometimes we need to prune our relationship landscapes – the people we spend so much time with. Removing toxic people from our lives and/or setting boundaries with them can be hard but it’s necessary if we want to grow. If we are the average of the five people we hang out with, then we really have to be selective about those five people. It’s very easy to fall into the same thinking spiral as your peers and it really takes being on the outside to recognize how similar some societies are in their thinking – especially ours in Mombasa. It’s like, not only are the stories going around the same at any single time is the same, but the reactions to those stories is also the same.
“Oh someone is rich in Mombasa? Probably drug money.”
The whole town acts like a huge echo chamber and what frustrates me the most is how people don’t even recognize there’s something wrong with that.
5. Last but not least, read the Quarter-life breakthrough by Adam Smiley. Unfortunately, since the book was self-published, it’s not available in bookstores especially in our part of the world (Middle East and Africa). However, if you can get the kindle version or ship the physical book via amazon, do so. I can’t recommend it enough.
These steps are not a recipe for beating the quarter-life crisis. These just provide you with a starting point…the problem with the quarter-life crisis is nobody can really help you with it. You’ve got to figure it out on your own.
At the end of the day, remember you always face many choices in life; you decide on whether you make a choice out of fear (fear of missing out, fear of being alone, fear of what people will say…) or out of wanting to grow. The choice is yours.
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