Why do we take life so seriously? Why do we believe that we must have everything figured out?
I know I’m not the only one.
This is what was the start of my quarter-life crisis, the realization that I was in my mid-twenties and hadn’t had it all figured out.
Don’t get me wrong I had a well-paying job, a boyfriend and friends but all these things didn’t make me truly happy.
I saw others thriving in their careers, having children, getting married and all their “ perfect” pictures on social media (you know the ones), and I felt like I was falling behind.
I felt confused and it came with all sorts of questions.
Had I made the right choices?
Where would my life be 10 years from now and would I be happy with what I created?
Was I creating a life that I designed or was I living it according to what I believed was “right” or what others had envisioned for me?
I began to feel that I would one day wake up and I would regret the choices I made.
It was what other people refer to as a quarter-life crisis, but what I consider being in your twenties.
I want to share what I did to overcome these doubts I was having and how I began to know myself, change the course of my life and start to begin to live intentionally.
If that sounds like a lot, it was, and I want you to keep in mind that this is a process.
This isn’t something that happens overnight, it’s the commitment to knowing and learning about yourself, figuring out what you want, finding solutions, and learning as you go.
So what the heck is a quarter life crisis?
Figure this would be a good place to start.
Similar to a mid-life crisis, you may notice that you are making major, impulsive changes to your life.
You may feel empty, nervous, confused, and question what’s next?
You don’t feel prepared and you want to say F being an adult altogether.
You may question who you are and what your purpose is.
And all this makes you a panickly(is that a word?) mess.
This should be a period of exploring who you are, how you want to maneuver adulthood (finding a dream job, starting a business, better relationships, better health) and figuring out life.
If you’re anything like me the thought of all this just makes you want to bury yourself in the covers because you don’t want to make the wrong decisions.
If you’re like me you want to do great things in the world but you begin to question”Is this too unrealistic”,” How do I even do X” and deep down you feel that you may not reach your dreams and goals and end up settling.
And for some time that’s what I did, I settled.
I did nothing and just went with the motions (of course that’s not what I recommend).
In case you didn’t like my definition here are some others you might find helpful.
A definition I found helpful from Life Hacker states that a quarter life crisis has four phases.
• Phase One: You feel trapped by your life choices, like your job, relationship, or both. You’re living on “autopilot.”
• Phase Two: You get a sense of “I’ve got to get out of this” and feel a growing sense that change is possible if you just take a leap.
• Phase Three: You quit the job, end the relationship, or break the commitment that’s making you feel trapped. Then you detach and enter a “time out” period where try to rediscover who you are and who you want to be.
• Phase Four: You begin rebuilding your life slowly but surely.
• Phase Five: You develop new commitments that are more in line with your interests and aspirations.
So here is what my first steps were to getting out of this never ending rut(or at least that’s what it felt like).
Know yourself- quizzes, test dummy, hobbies, new experiences
So what was my first step?
After being fed up and realizing that the things I had in my life weren’t serving me I decided that now was the time to stop trying to make others happy and start doing what made me happy.
So like any sane person, I bailed on my boyfriend (don’t feel bad for him, he knew it was coming), changed careers and started two businesses.
Sounds like I had it all figured out?
Well, I did not, not in the least. But after I cut out all the mess, I was slowly becoming less confused.
I started to wonder who was Tiffany and what the heck did she want?
What did she like?
Who did she want in her life?
I hadn’t realized that I had lost myself in trying to make others happy.
So of course in the name of self-discovery, I did what we all love (don’t act like you don’t) quizzes!
What I found most helpful was 16 personalities.
I actually didn’t end up on this self-discovery process on purpose it all started with this quiz.
I was amazed at how spot on this quiz was.
Seriously if you’re curious to know how more about your strengths and weaknesses, how you are in relationships, your best suited career, hobbies, and what you are like as a parent I highly recommend that you take this assessment.
You will be surprised at what you find(In case you were curious, I am an INFJ).
This was the beginning to me finally ending the battle with myself with being introverted and starting to really embrace who I am.
Once I found out what my type was I went a step further to see if they were any the typical hobbies for my type and tried those out to see if I liked them (I’m always down to try something new).
I took this time to really try to know and understand myself, this included learning as much about what I disliked as much as what I liked.
Step two was all about action. I started doing things I always put off. You know those classes you’ve been putting off for five years and those hobbies you’ve always wanted to try, now is the time to try those things.
I made a list everything I said I wanted to do or try in the past.
I committed to trying at least one new thing on my list a month.
Some of those things included a kickboxing class, ceramic class, hiking, book clubs, singing groups, drink making classes and doing a missions trip.
I took note of what I enjoyed and forgot about the rest.
I didn’t make any long-term commitments to classes or stuck with just one thing at this point since my goal was just to figure out what I liked.
I tried everything, even if I didn’t have anyone to go with me because in reality, it was about me and not them.
Some things you will like, some you won’t, and that’s ok. You’ll know what’s right for you when it comes along.
Along with that, I began to try new things I normally say no to to get out of my comfort zone.
I took a trip to New Orleans with a new group of friends and in a way, my two businesses were a way for me to decide what I like.
I was able to see what I did and did not like about each and act accordingly.
I believe that you have to do a variation of things to discover who you are and what things really make you happy.
This is the first step to living intentionally, more on that below.
Know your values
I was reading this book called The Subtle Art of Not giving a f*. You’ve probably have heard of it. I know, I’m late.
And it basically says that we have limited f*s to give so we should choose what we care about carefully.
These things are what you value.
My first thought was how in the heck do I figure out what my values are?
He says that good values are reality based, socially constructive, immediate and controllable.
He says bad values are superstitious, socially destructive and not immediate or controllable.
He gives the example of popularity as a bad value because ultimately you can’t control how others perceive you.
This may be getting confusing, it was for me too.
Here are some examples of my values to help: self respect, autonomy/freedom, honesty, creativity, compassion, positivity, joy, helping others, kindness.
These are all things that I control based on how I react and what I do.
So what I did was think “ What really matters to me” “ If I didn’t do x would I really care” “What things are really important to me”?
Something I heard from a podcast that may be easier is to ask yourself what do people do that really bothers you?
As an example, it really bothers me when people aren’t honest with me thus reflecting my value for honesty.
Once I figured out what I valued I made it a priority of doing more and acting in ways that aligned with my values.
That meant really making time for the things that matter to me and resisting the easy way out(its so much easier to tell your friend she was right when you really feel like she was wrong).
Schedule intentional time
And lastly, schedule out intentional time.
You have a goal you are trying to reach?
Break it down into attainable steps and put it in your calendar.
Part of the crisis is not knowing how to get where we want to go.
Something that has really helped with that is creating a goal and actively working toward that goal.
And now that you know(or at least are starting to figure out)what you value and what you want to spend your time on, make a conscience effort to make time for those things that you value and the goals you want to achieve.
Two goals of mine was to get clarity on which business I wanted to purse(or even if I wanted to continue with either) and to make more time for things that really matter to me including taking better care of myself.
Therefore I made it a priority to schedule myself a “me date” once a week for self care and schedule time for the things that matter to me like business, my family, friends, volunteering, and my hobbies.
I have found that I feel more satisfied with my days and more in control if I am consciously making an effort to invent time in things that I love and I am working toward some concrete goal.
Be intentional with how you are spending your time and try not to allow things or people who don’t matter take you off course.
Remember that this is your life and you should live it the way that you want to live it.
Other helpful tips.
Schedule down time.
Sometimes trying to over think yourself to a solution doesn’t work at all.
And when you give yourself time to relax and not think, a solution will come to you.
This is normal, what you are going through is a part of growing up and figuring out what you want out of life.
This is just one of the many transitions you will face in life.
Relax and don’t compare yourself to others.
We are all running a different race, you have to determine what works best for you and what you want.
You don’t have to have it all figured out.
Use this time to learn about yourself.
When you find yourself getting overwhelmed, take some time to yourself.
I find that once I find a solution action makes me feel more reassured that thinking.
So get out there try some things and don’t feel bad about it. You got this!
So this is my experience and journey with my quarter life crisis.
I hope this helps you to start to learn more about yourself so you can carve out your designed path and how you want to begin to live your life.
There is no RIGHT path that you should take only you can decide what’s right for you in this moment. So make a plan to move forward to start living a life that is most fulfilling for you. And remember to take it one step at a time, this is your race and yours only.
So how are you overcoming your quarter life crisis? Or what tips do you find helpful? Or what could you add that others might find helpful also?
Photo by Ella Jardim on Unsplash