I couldn’t make up my mind. With all the movies and TV shows available, why was it so hard for me to find one damn thing I wanted to watch on Netflix? My savory steak and cheese was losing heat so I decided on Dexter.
With my sub in my left hand and a glass of Nirvana Punch (my concoction of peach vodka and pineapple soda) in my right, I sat back and relaxed while I waited for the spirits to ease my mind and calm my nerves. I don’t drink often, but I needed that particular night to indulge.
My final semester at the local community college began earlier that week. The classes themselves were not difficult and I was unfazed by the syllabuses I received from each professor. The routine would be the same: show up to class, scribble down a note or two during each lecture, write a couple papers, and decimate any exam that dares to insult my intelligence. Part of me did miss the experience of school. I missed the anticipation of scoping out potential partners in each class on the first day. I missed taking naps in the library in between classes. I missed seeing familiar faces and hanging out in the school’s TV studio and radio station. But there was a large part of me that didn’t miss the experience of school. I didn’t miss waking up before the sun. I didn’t miss the 40 minute transit on an overcrowded bus full of perverts, creeps, loud babies, and serial killers. I didn’t miss watching the guys who spent their entire paychecks on the latest shoes strut around campus in outfits that cost a down payment on a house and drive cars financed by mommy and daddy. Besides these little annoyances, I realized that there was something much bigger eating away at me. It was the soul-crushing feeling of living a life unfulfilled.
What are you doing with your life? Are you happy? Are you really living up to your potential?
There isn’t a minute that goes by everyday that I don’t ask myself one of these questions. I’d much rather endure the stress of an upcoming final exam than to deal with the stress that comes with questioning my own existence. Don’t worry though. This is not a post about my whining and bitching about how my life is unfair. Instead, this is a post about the answers I’ve stumbled upon over the past few weeks.
- I Am Not Alone. I find comfort in knowing that I am not the only person dealing with the confusion and stress of being a twentysomething. As a teenager, I thought that by 23 I’d be finished with college and entering a high paying career that would solidify the success expected of me. So now when I start to feel down and discontent, I grab a brew with a couple friends and we just talk about life. It’s relieving knowing that we are all going through the exact same thing.
- We are all walking different paths. One of the most foolish things I’ve found myself doing lately is comparing myself to my peers. I’m always looking at my “friends” on my social networks and wondering how the hell are they leading such awesome and successful lives? What are they doing that I’m not? When am I going to get mine? The truth of the matter is that everyone has their own battles and are dealing with their own circumstances. Some people will never know struggle. Some people have known struggle for too long and have worked incessantly to never experience it again. I don’t know what anyone else is going through nor do I know where their life path is leading them. The best thing I can do is live my own life.
- Our 20s are stressful. I think it’s fair to say that the first 20 years of life are pretty much fun and games. Don’t get me wrong, I know that there are people who have lived devastating lives since teens and earlier, but for the most part our first 20 years are pretty easy. The quarter life crisis really kicks our asses when we finish college. Once we get that degree, we’re faced with the reality that now we have to make a living. We’re adults now. ADULTS!!! It feels like just a week ago our biggest problem was figuring out what to wear to Saturday night’s party or which drink to mix with our Ciroc. Now all of a sudden, we’re faced with the debilitating pressure of planning the rest of our lives. For those of us who didn’t go to college, we have to figure out a less traditional route. It’s disheartening to many of us because all our lives we are told that in order to achieve success that we must go to college. Here’s the sad truth: too many of us do not have the luxury of attending college. Now we’re faced with not only finding success, but doing so without that piece of paper saying we put in at least 4 years of hard work at someone’s university.
- Now Is When We Should Pursue Our Passions and Embrace Failure. We are still young enough to make mistakes when we are in our twenties. Now is the time to take that road trip you’ve been half-planning for a while. Now is the time to pursue that passion that society teaches you is foolish and impractical. Now is the time to be fearless because when we’re 30 and older, we should have our heads on straight and be working toward stability. I don’t want to be 40 years old and wondering what if. At the same time, while we are chasing dreams and perfecting our crafts, we need to be mindful to embrace failure. In fact, we should look forward to it. Why? Because we should learn from each mistake and failure we make. We need to be wise enough to learn from them but persistent enough to keep going. The rungs on the ladder to success are often broken and sometimes missing. It’s up to us to continue climbing that ladder after we fall, fixing the pieces as we go along.
- Act. There are geniuses everywhere. That Starbucks employee who served your latte this morning may actually be a genius. That mechanic who changed your brakes may actually be a genius. U nfortunately, no one will ever know because we get caught up in our own situations and give up and ultimately end up settling, never meeting our potential. One of the problems we face is our failure to act. We all have great ideas every once in a while but we’re either too unmotivated to act or we simply do not believe it is worth the time. Too often we convince ourselves that we’re not good enough, smart enough, or just not able. At the end of the day, it’s not necessarily the people who earned 4.0’s at the most prestigious schools who attain success. Many times it’s the people who are bold enough to pursue unconventional ideas and take chances who make it. We have to decide what we want, formulate a plan, and execute with reckless abandon. Even if it ultimately fails in the end, we should be able to find comfort in knowing that we gave it our all.
I’ve learned a lot in my 23 years. I accept that any failures in my life are learning experiences and that if I am leading an unfulfilled life, it is because I’ve allowed myself to. The quarter life crisis is a real thing and I hope that I’ve made it easier for some of you to work through it. These are arguably some of the most stressful years we will live but the beauty of it is that we are young enough to make mistakes while we endure. So live your life, don’t compare yourself to anyone else, be relentless in your pursuit of happiness, and most of all…..Have Fun!