I never really believed in a quarter life crisis until I completed a quarter of my life. It always felt like a subtle jab to those much older than 25 who had experienced many more of the pangs of losing their youth, but as I crawled my way through the minefield of my 20's I learned that something similar has been lost in only a few years time. I've been increasingly feeling the loss of direction and stability. For the majority of our lives we are given a purpose and a place; school. Then comes graduation, either from high school or university, where you feel a gigantic shift in the structure of your life. You are no longer told where you need to be or what you need to do, but rather you now get to choose your path in life and it's utterly terrifying.
I've spent the past few months doing a bit of soul searching seeing as I've still not completely adjusted to life out of school. It was all much easier when I knew the goal I needed to attain (graduation) and the steps I needed to take in order to get to it. But now that I've done it, where am I left to go? Many people then begin to plan the rest of their lives in increments of 10. By 30 you should be married, possibly with a child, and in the process of owning a home. By 40 you should be saving up for your child's college find in order to perpetuate the cycle of dependence on the education system.
It sounds tempting to fall into those patterns - to create definitive milestones that will shape your life and change it drastically as though to say 'there's no going back now', but I could never see myself falling victim to them. At least, not to the stereotype of 'adulthood'. I am going into my 26th year of life and I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Although, is that such a bad thing? Six years ago I would have thought it was terrible, confusing, and slightly embarrassing. While I do still find it confusing I'm starting to accept that anything that diverts from the status quo will be embarrassing until you decide not to care anymore.
I find it absurd and slightly sadistic to make students choose what they want to do with the rest of their lives at such a young age, but what it has taught me is that uncertainty is just as vital when it comes to your development. Without uncertainty we'd all be on the same path, following someone else's vision of what life should look like, and vulnerable to much more than just a few years pondering our passions.
On another note, I decided to do something mildly scary this past week, and that is getting a visible tattoo. It may seem insignificant to most people who have had them for years or indulged in full sleeves, but it's taken a lot of adjusting to for me. The fear of putting my convictions and personal choices out there so broadly for every one to see was what held me back for years, but I decided it wasn't enough to stunt the exploration of who I am. It may just have been a vain response to the significant change I've gone through the past few months, but it felt right.
Have you gone through a quarter life crisis? How have you handled it?