I think I’m having what people call a quarter-life crisis. I have a job, but it’s not the job of my dreams. I’m making money, but am barely self-sufficient. I’m dating around, but haven’t come close to finding the quote unquote the one. All I can think about is when I’m gonna get married and if I’m gonna have babies. These sensations feel almost hormonal, like a surge of progesterone has erupted in my body, and all I want is for some delicate infant to suck my teets.
I always imagined I’d be working to start up my own company, or at least have done something unique, by the time I turned 27. I’m 26 now, and these seem like impossible goals. I fight the feeling everyday it would just be easier to give up on these aspirations, and just settle down, but settle down to what? With who? Settle down to this? I’m not satisfied with my life at all, yet I feel like time is running out.
– Terrified & Confused
Dear Terrified & Confused,
Right now all I want to do is grab your shoulders, shake you, and scream, “WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?! WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE??“
If you find yourself at this anxiety-ridden point in your journey, that is good news. First of all, yer alright. Take a deep, deliberate in-breath, and sigh an exhale. It sounds like this is the perfect time to stop and re-evaluate everything, and I do mean everything. It is a good time to ask yourself questions and give yourself time to listen for the answers. The answers will not come from your mind, what you believe to be “you”. Your only job is to pick the right questions and just listen.
- How did I get here?
- What choices did I make?
- Why did I make those choices?
- How do I really feel about the ideas behind those choices?
- Whose ideas are they? Are they, in fact, mine?
- What do I think life is about?
- What do I think about how I want to live my life?
- Do I want peace and happiness?
- Do I want it above all else?
Right now, it seems that your happiness and self worth are at the mercy of a bunch of forces outside of your control. You have come to a junction at which you are called to inquire within: Am I merely a character in the dream of life, or am I the dreamer of the dream? Don’t forget. Yer alright.
It sounds like you have given a good go at following the path possibly spelled out to you by your upbringing – your parents, the school system, and perhaps the majority of your peers. The marriage, the career, the family, the 401K – acquire, achieve, build, produce, reproduce! You know, “the plan.” We can no longer deny there’s such a thing as this plan or program that seems to drone on in the background, forefront, and commercial breaks of our brains. Maybe you’ve had an adventure or two “out there,” Eventually, though, you’ll have to settle down and settle into “the program.”
There are many people who plug themselves right into this plan, who appear to have it all, and yet, we see all the time, behind closed doors, everyone has the same struggle to be happy, to be free, to be oneself, to feel a sense of purpose and meaning. We want to die knowing we gave the world a jewel or a gift by being ourselves, by being alive. We want to understand what that means to be alive, and this desire burns inside.
It sounds like you are looking down that slippery slope of how you brought yourself to this point in time, seeing a first glimpse of futility. Do not, I repeat do not, be a’feared! You’re at the exact right place and right time to begin to question your place in the cycle of life – in the larger scope of life itself. A major question at the center of this is “Am I being true to myself?”
I would recommend, along with inquiring about the questions previously stated and practicing deep listening, that you hit the books, and go to YouTube, and grab the classics – the ones that aim to shake things up, to disrupt the status quo – that get you to think critically and open to greater realities and the contemplation of infinite possibilities for your life. Look up (in no particular order): Joseph Campbell, Eckhart Tolle, Carl Sagan, Neil Degrasse Tyson, the Symphony of Science, Bruce Lee, Buckminster Fuller, Ken Robinson, South Park, TedX videos, Aldous Huxley, Alan Watts, Calvin and Hobbes, and so many more.
It’s time for you to consider the difference between the world we live in vs. the LIFE that lives in you. Now is the time to get into right relationship with your self. Dissatisfaction and disillusionment are strong indicators that something deep within you is crying out for change. It’s a sign there is more to life and being alive than the way you’ve been living.
All those things you want in your world will most likely happen and fall into place. Yet, your goal should be to realize a happiness that’s independent of them. Once you have a true experience of the unconditional love within that is your true self, your relationship to the things you want your life to consist of will be built as an extension of that self-hood. The next time these anxious and worrisome feelings resurface, stop and ask to see yourself truly. Listen and watch what happens within your psyche. Ask again, and go deeper yet.
Self-loving principles can be the guiding power and solid foundation upon which you choose to live, deeply and authentically. Right now, however, there is a distinct difference between “you” and the experience of life being had through you. Right now, you suffer from a mis-indentity that defines who you are based on all the things in “the program” you don’t have, or at least are not right now.
There’s no better time to be a millennial. With the internet, everyone can be entrepreneurial. You can discover and express yourself and find a way to share, source, and fund your creations. You can find your audience and help them to find you. You can build your own unique empire of self-created self-hood.
Now is the time for you to focus on clarifying your true perception of what the experience of life means, so you can actually start to live it. Now is the time to research your true self and establish your own original values so you can experience the deepest kind of love and real, unconditional happiness that is possible, but must be found inside of you.
*DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in ASK AN ELDER do not represent the views of BYBS or BYBS staff.