by Lauren Setum
A few weeks ago, knowing that I was about to turn 26, a co-worker asked me (half jokingly, half seriously) if I’d gotten through my quarter life crisis yet. I told her (half jokingly, half seriously) that I was ‘about 75% of the way through it.’ Why doesn’t anyone warn you about this post-college phenomenon? I’ve wondered that more than once over the last year or so, and I posed the (somewhat) rhetorical question to my co-worker during our conversation. Her reply: ‘I think it’s something that’s new and somewhat unique to our generation.’ According to this Washington Post article, she’s spot on…ok, maybe there were some good folks out there trying to give today’s 20-somethings a head’s up. Anyhow, this thing we often jokingly refer to as a ‘quarter-life crisis’ is a totally real thing that pops up about 20 years sooner than the ‘mid-life crisis’ sometimes associated with our parents’ generation. Apparently, feeling like nothing feels right is totally normal. How’s that for an oxymoron?
This past year and a half or so, well, let’s just say I would probably have been a great poster child for the aforementioned concept. Everything from work to personal relationships felt amiss. Post-college graduation, I had pretty concrete ideas about the path I was going to take and what life was going to be like; so when my current situation (at the time) started going against the grain of my ‘picture’, I got frustrated. Still, I figured that ‘this is just what it takes, this is what you have to deal with.’ Looking back, I think that the idea of not following through on these ‘things’ I had dedicated my education and time to made me feel guilty. I had created this really ‘cool idea’ of what I would be doing, and deciding to ditch it and try a new path felt, well, ‘uncool’. For quite some time, ditching out was simply not an option.
Some of us are lucky (yes, lucky) enough to be pushed out of our funk and into something different and more fitting (like the woman in the Post article); some of us are not. Carrie Cunnington is a talent and success coach here in the Twin Cities, and this particular weekly newsletter (excerpt below) from a couple weeks ago entitled, “I’m a Quitter” really resonated with me.
While individuals who have been ‘shoved’ might feel like the unluckiest person in the world in the moment, I actually think it’s those who feel askew and aren’t being pushed in one direction or another who have it harder. Being stuck in the rut of, ‘I can’t change what I’m doing anymore, it’s too late’ is difficult (and a risky way of thinking!). Handling doubt in terms of major life decisions takes initiative and openness. It’s easy to remain in the ‘comfort and security’ of a current situation and hope something happens that will suddenly make everything work like a well-oiled machine. But, as Carrie points out in the excerpt above, that can take a looooooong time. More often than not, the sense of well-being that we search for comes from within. Instead of trying to ward off feelings of doubt with external things, try changing how you think about and approach a set of circumstances. You might find something you hadn’t expected.
Until recently, I struggled with the idea of doubt and thought it was a completely negative, bad thing. It was synonymous with being confused and lost. I expressed this to a friend who shook her head and said that all it really means is that you care and are self-aware enough to question things. She totally changed my perception. If you think about it, doubt is how we come to have the beliefs we have…if we didn’t question things (whether it be relationships, work, religion, etc) how would we ever see the big picture? We wouldn’t. Doubt, when utilized in the right way, can be a positive thing.
For my 26th birthday, I decided to get myself a present that would basically ‘commemorate’ my 25th year and kick off the upcoming year on a positive note. Bondye Bon by Britney is run by local Minneapolis artist, Britney Daniel. Not only are her custom sterling-silver rings incredibly charming, but all profits go towards her mission efforts; any profit above and beyond that is donated directly to long-term missionaries or organizations working for world change. How awesome is that?! I ordered three rings, and they read: FAITH, LUCKY 13, DOUBT. The ‘faith’ and ‘doubt’ rings seem to contradict each other, but as I’ve already explained, they’re actually two peas in a pod. ‘Lucky 13’ references the calendar year 2013 (aka my 25th year) and is sort of a play on words when it comes to the stereotype of the number 13. Was it a lucky year? Depends how you look at it. I feel pretty lucky that I learned to stop trying to make everything perfect right now…turns out what you really want to do is be at peace with where things are headed.