By a show of hands, who has thought or uttered the words, “I am not where I imagined myself to be at (enter whatever age you are right now)” Hmmmm, ok, pretty much the whole room. As we all know and are familiar with the “midlife crisis”, have any of you all stopped and considered the “mid/late twenties crisis? I’ve spoken to many older people who have looked at me like I was crazy when I suggested that living and going through your glorious, carefree twenties could be anything less than a cupcake walk through a park filled with puppies and daffodils, but it’s not for many of us. Yes we are having fun, experimenting with who we are, meeting new people and even figuring out who we are not, but there are still those dark moments of doubt and fear. Ok, so maybe we aren’t out there buying Harley Davidson’s and letting our one piece of hair we are desperately holding onto blow in the wind, or sneaking into our teenager’s playlist titled “Dirty Dirty Moufs From The Souf” and putting it in our iPod, but in your twenties you’re dealing with different issues. As opposed to saying, “man, this is all I’ve done with my life so far” we are saying “man, what am I going to do next with my life?” Some may feel that the two can’t compare, but according to studies, books, television shows and even therapists coining the term “Quarterlife Crisis” or QLC, it is a part of reality for many.
Whether it’s finding a job, trying to escape from your current job, or not knowing what you even want your job to be, the Quarterlife Crisis can take its toll on anyone, and it doesn’t stop there, if we want to make ourselves an even bigger train wreck, we then throw marriage, children and the want or need to be wealthy and or famous into the equation, and want it all by the time we hit our 30th birthday, it can be too much for one person to handle.
Should we beat ourselves up for having these thoughts? Or can we place a little of the blame on society for sometimes making us feel as though we should be 21 year-old millionaires before we even step foot off of our college campuses? Either way, what we are looking for is solutions to these issues, and sometimes it takes soul searching and a little research to figure out what we really want to do with our lives. A friend of mine who is a successful entrepreneur always tells me “when you do what you’re passionate about, it doesn’t feel like work.” Ok, now how do we go about figuring out what we’re passionate about? When I left my Corporate America job at a network I had been at for two years, I asked myself “what do I want now?” And once the voices of those telling me how much of an idiot I was for leaving my job with no backup plan faded, I really had the chance to ask myself some key questions. What do I love to do? What am I good at? What do others admire about me? I hit rock bottom when I realized I was beyond burned-out and I knew that being in a cubicle and asking for a Friday off every other month with my fingers crossed could not be my lifestyle anymore. I didn’t want the corner office, or my boss’ job, so I knew I was just sticking around like a gerbil on its wheel waiting for that tasty morsel of an opportunity that would hopefully make me happy. I stayed around long enough to use my health insurance (sad, I know, but I desperately needed a root canal) and then I had to get my life back.
In Michelle Goodman’s “The Anti 9 to 5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube,” Goodman offers advice and suggestions for breaking into one’s dream field, combining full-time and part-time gigs, working at home, and being in charge of one’s own scheduling and leisure. In the book Goodman discusses figuring out what your passion is, being your own boss and taking jobs just to learn new things. “When trying to figure out your next career move, dabbling is the name of the game. Many entrepreneurs I talked to said they considered their past 9-to-5 jobs “school,” taking gigs that teach you new skills or introduce you to people you want to meet is like getting paid to get an education.” Another thing to consider, when we tell ourselves that we want our own businesses and to be our own boss’, we need to ask ourselves “do I really want the responsibility of owning my own business or do I just crave and seek the freedom that comes with being an entrepreneur?”
I took a vow that I would try everything that I had an interest in, because to be perfectly honest, everyone may not have a passion or know how to tap into it just yet, but we can at least figure out what we are interested in. And I’m happy to say that six months later, I have taken salsa lessons, African dance, visited museums, belly danced, joined a gym, read, taught a creative writing class, went to concerts in the park, FINALLY started decorating my apartment, worked with children, interned at a Jamaican restaurant, got back to my love of writing, tried new recipes and in two weeks I will be traveling to Japan, gasp! And I’m just getting started. Have I figured out my passion? Not quite, but I realized that I don’t need to do just one single thing my whole life. I never read any rule that said whatever your first career move is will also be the same one you retire from, I will continue to evolve, love myself and the life I was given, the career of my dreams, that will just have to come in due time.