A quarter-life crisis is a period of life ranging from an individual’s twenties to thirties, which causes one to stop and question his or her chosen path. Millennials today are no stranger to the quarter-life crisis and view it as a plague to which they must work vehemently to avoid. But is it really as bad as it sounds?
I was 25. I had a great job and I was married to my first love. My boss loved me, my colleagues hated me. It was perfect. When I wasn’t corporate slaving, I was doing part-time modeling gigs for commercials and magazine spreads. I wouldn’t say I made it to the top but essentially I did.
From the surface, it seemed like I had it all figured out. What else could I ask for?
Sometimes I would ask myself, “Why are you so ungrateful?” After all, I did a lot for someone so young.
I could go on and brag about what seemed like achievements, but that’s beside the point.
The point is I wasn’t happy.
The mid-life crisis is real, and so is quarter-life crisis. It comes and attacks you like a plague. It plunges towards you and it screams, “This is not enough!”
The result of my quarter-life crisis?
I got divorced. I resigned, and I moved abroad.
A quarter-life crisis demands that you to make a change—that you make a big life decision and risk everything you have for everything you’ve been craving for but were not previously bold enough to do.
The quarter-life crisis almost inevitably makes your decisions for you, especially when it realises how long you’ve been sitting on your desires and delaying your change.
The quarter-life crisis destroys everything that you’ve built, strips away every foundation you’ve established, and cackles at you as you watch your whole world collapse.
But that isn’t the end.
As you watch your life fall apart, you also find a new sense of beginning, a new sense of purpose.
The quarter-life crisis is a calling. It’s a calling from the inner child you’ve abandoned while you were too busy, “adulting”.
Quarter-life crises are similar to mid-life crises. Middle aged people in their mid-life crisis act like children, too. They blow their savings on random purchases like fancy cars; have affairs with women half their age, or find themselves partying harder than they ever did when they were in their mid-twenties. In essence, the mid-life crisis is to middle aged people what the quarter-life crisis is to people in their twenties and thirties—it’s their inner child struggling to break free because they’ve been good and responsible for far too long.
Similarly, the quarter life crisis wrestles with you – mentally, emotionally and spiritually because it believes that you are meant to do something else. It’s a calling from your inner child that tells you to risk it all, because it knows you are meant for something more.
There’s a universal truth behind the term, “inner child”. Children are not always responsible. They’re selfish—that’s why they’re children. But negatives aside, children are the experts at listening to their hearts and doing things for their soul. They may be selfish, but they’re also genuine. They know what they want and their dreams are not yet poisoned by the bitter realities of the world.
Perhaps the life you’ve built for yourself all these years may be a stable one, but ask yourself this: is this really what you want? If you don’t know the answer, look to your inner child, for it certainly knows what to say.
My quarter-life crisis was severe. I suffered for an entire year – maybe more if I’m being honest to myself – and although my emotional wounds are slowly turning into scabs, I sometimes find myself taking a step back and reminding myself that this painful process is part of my growth. That this quarter-life crisis is a catalyst for that growth.
I used to fear change. I used to resent it when people told me that I had changed.
Today, I don’t fear change anymore. I don’t hate it when I look at myself and see how much I’ve changed because I realise that the only way forward to a progressive life is through change.
If you’re facing a quarter-life crisis right now, know that despite how sporadic, messy and chaotic it is, it’s just part of growing. That when life presents you with challenges, you must be bold enough to face them so that you can come out stronger, wiser and more resilient when it’s all said and done.
As you struggle with your quarter-life crisis, there will be days that you will feel defeated, but trust yourself and know that it’s just a phase you have to go through to become a better person.
By the end of the battle, you’ll come to realise that your quarter-life crisis is just part of your spiritual response to your true calling.
You will then realise that it’s not a crisis but a metamorphosis. Embrace it.
Note: Photo above by Ben White on Unsplash
Formerly Head of International Affairs Bureau in Academy of Sciences Malaysia, Nina Azrah took off to see the world as a flight attendant in Qatar Airways. Her subject interests are broad - ranging from science, history, geopolitics, philosophy and spirituality.