Our twenties are a weird stage; we are simultaneously worried shitless about the future, but could also care less and just wanna go back to sleep. It’s usually somewhere in there that the quarter life crisis sets in.
For me, the breakdown began while I was in Israel (five months before my 25th birthday). By the time I got home, it was in FULL swing. I had spent two weeks immersed in a new culture, having new experiences, cultivating new relationships, relishing new freedoms, developing a deeper understanding of myself and, without even knowing it, altering how I perceived both the people and the world around me. Everything in my life suddenly seemed out of focus. My job no longer seemed like a viable career option, I felt trapped in my relationship, my friends all seemed to be progressing through life without me and I suddenly found myself wondering if I was truly fulfilled by the life I was building.
The answer was a resounding “NO”. Que the “quarter life crisis”.
For me, it was a period of high stress, excessive insecurity and profound soul searching. Looking at 25 I felt lost, confused and inadequate. I had spent a small fortune on a college degree I wasn’t using, settled into the first job that would pay the bills, picked up a second job in order to fund a life outside of said bills, allowed other people’s visions to cloud my own, became complacent in friendships that no longer served me, was single for the first time in almost five years, relentlessly compared my life and my achievements to those of the people around me, developed tunnel vision for a life I had convinced myself I wanted and ultimately realized I wasn’t contributing to the world in any significant way .
I’ll be honest though, the toughest realization brought about by my “quarter life crisis” was that every single one of my friends was in a relationship, seemingly happy, and no longer readily available to me. The truth is that as people grow up they progress through life at different rates and they develop different interests, priorities and schedules. This is where I found myself. All my friends had begun settling down, getting married, buying houses, having babies, focusing on their careers and ultimately disappearing from my life. Suddenly my go to people were unavailable. I don’t mean that they just disappeared and I never saw them again, but our relationships were beginning to revolve more around the occasional, carefully scheduled, “catch up” dinner than any real plans. And that made me sad. And nostalgic. I was experiencing a sort of homesick feeling, not for a place, but for the people my friends used to be and for the types of relationships we used to have. That feeling hit me hard, but somewhere in my soul searching I realized that my happiness couldn’t, and shouldn’t, be tied to the presence of specific people. People change and plans change and that’s just life.
Sure, I’m 25, still living at home, single, working 6-7 days a week without any real direction, but why is that a bad thing? Because society tells me it is? I’m single so I should be surrounded by single friends, living it up every weekend, have a place of my own, sights set on a high and mighty career, blazing a trail of independence, but always “moving forward” towards a domestic life with dreams of prince charming and motherhood, right? WRONG. Somewhere along the way finding a man, settling down and starting a family became the standard by which women are considered successful. I could have stayed in that relationship, I could have settled down and started a family and had all the things society tells me I need as a woman to be happy and fulfilled, but would I have been? Again, the answer was a resounding “NO”.
For me, experiences are the most valuable thing I hope to gain from my twenties. I want to cram as many experiences, big and small, into the coming years before all of those “milestones” set in. Is that financially irresponsible? Maybe. That’s probably why I still live at home. But is it worth it? Absolutely. It’s those experiences that fuel me, they’re what sustain me. The rest of my twenties won’t be spent making plans to settle down, they’re gonna be my selfish years. Years spent deciphering, embracing, owning and savoring whatever it is that brings me happiness– no matter how fleeting. They will be years of defining and redefining my authentic self, years spent chasing “pipe dreams”, learning from failures, pursuing new goals, cultivating new relationships, planning adventures, exploring new places and remaining open to all that this life has to offer me. 25 feels like a fresh start and that’s exciting. Also terrifying. But mostly exciting. 25 has brought a fresh perspective, a renewed drive and the determination to start living my life for me, and me alone. I’ve heard it said that nothing ruins your twenties more than thinking you should have your life together already, and it is with this in mind that I am setting out into my 25th year, without a plan, but with a renewed hopefulness and confidence that what lies ahead is meant to be, and I, am exactly where I’m meant to be.
First official experience of 25? Disneyland! Stay tuned to hear all about my California adventure.