Quarter-Life Crisis

Tuesday morning.

I wake up without an alarm clock and roll over to find my husband’s side of the bed already void of body heat. He’s been at work about an hour now.

I consider getting up, but there’s no rush. The house is clean, all my acquaintances are at work, and I can’t think of anything that I really have to do.

Or anything I particularly want to do, for that matter.

Another half an hour crawls by. My eyes aren’t open, but I’m not asleep. I haven’t gotten out of bed yet, but I feel like the day has been wasted.

I used to beg for days like this: a natural awakening from a deep sleep, a schedule-less day, the freedom to stay in my PJs, the endless opportunity to binge-watch Netflix, make last-minute plans, and enjoy every sip of my coffee…

Maybe the magic of those days that were far and few between were rooted in the fact that they were far and few between. When they came around, I had earned them.

Now, every day is like this. My self-assigned chores may only take up an hour out of each day. And as much as I wish I could say that I fill up the rest of the time with hobbies, service, and various other social activities… I don’t.

Daily, I ask myself “why?” The only conclusion I can seem to draw is that I do not know what I want. All I know is that I DO NOT want to keep sitting around wasting away. I’m very aware of the “life is short” cliche. Ironically, this confusion and spiral of thoughts consumes me, preventing me from being truly present in the moment or relating to anyone nearby.

So, what do you do? What do you do when you don’t know what you want to do? When you don’t know what activity or mission or goal is going to be exciting enough to get out of bed for? When you don’t know how to be?

I’m calling it a quarter-life crisis. I’m 26. My career path is changing. My personality is changing. My friends are moving away and forging their own paths… or having babies.

Luckily, I haven’t bought a convertible or started a fling with a pool boy.

I thought I had this all figured out. I went to a college I loved, I made friends that will last a lifetime, I got married to the man of my dreams, and I built a fitness ministry I was proud of assuming it would keep me busy the rest of my life.

But despite the trivial successes I’ve mentioned, I find myself feeling empty. Like I haven’t found “it” yet. And quite a few of the things I’ve listed above have fallen away in such a short period of time. Where did I go wrong?

I’m very grateful to have older friends in which I can soak in experience and wisdom when I am seemingly ‘lost.’ I’ve shared with a few of them the circumstances of my quarter-life crisis, and have willingly listened as they shared their stories beginning with, “I’ve been where you are.” As soon as I hear that line, my heart jumps, patiently awaiting the one-liner that will change my life.

But despite how many people I seek for insight, I always come to the same conclusion: No one else can do this for me. No one can give me the answers I’m looking for. No one can show me the way out.

There is one piece of advice that has started to resonate with me, and I’ll share it here with you all. A dear friend and elder said to me, “This is such a great season for you. You have the time and freedom to try new things and find your niche.”

I hope you weren’t expecting some elegantly-worded statement with such profound meaning it would knock you out of your chair. This was just truth. The truth that has been right in front me the whole time. And as much as I rolled my eyes when I heard it, my heart has seemed to latch onto it.

I do not by any means have this whole thing figured out. But, I do feel my perspective is shifting. Here I am wishing I had my “place” figured out (job, hometown, friends, hobbies, etc.) yet, the beauty in all of these open-ended questions is the opportunity to explore.

The things I am longing for, the things I want so badly to be set in stone, are the things that are preventing me from exploring, traveling, experimenting, and searching. Do I really want all of this figured out at 26? Because, then what? I’d have motions to go through, expectations to be met, and limited flexibility in my schedule. What if I had the perfect 9-5 job, meetings with the perfect committees at night, the perfect weekend social gatherings, and whatever else I think I want? When would I spend time with my significant other? When would I go for my long runs? When would I travel? When would I read? When would I experiment with new ideas and let my imagination run wild?

At the risk of running on a tangent, I feel it’s important to interject here with yet another cliche: “To each their own.” Because the truth is, there are plenty of people with 9-to-5’s, kids, committee, hobbies, and back-to-back weekend social events who are very fulfilled by those things. That’s great for you, but it’s not me. I’m a dreamer, I’m a “blue,” I’m an “INFJ/P,” and consequently I am part of less than 7% of the population that seems to have bigger-than-life goals and is unsatisfied with the status-quo.

Have I drawn a conclusion yet? Oh yea, perspective

We’ve all been here: lost, confused, lacking direction. And if you haven’t been here yet, I assure you, your moment will come. But what you do with this season of life is completely up to you. It can be a season of crisis or a season of opportunity, the choice is yours.

Tuesday morning.

I wake up without an alarm clock and roll over to find my husband’s side of the bed already void of body heat. He’s been at work about an hour now.

I get up. For today I have no plans, no agenda, no responsibilities. I don’t have to clock-in, I don’t have to commute, I don’t have to answer to anybody, I don’t have any expectations.

Today is mine. Today I can walk down that road I often pass and figure out where it goes. Today I can finish the 5 books I’ve started to read. Today I can learn a new song on the guitar. Today I can begin writing the novel I’ve spent the last 3 years thinking about. Today I can try something new. Today I can make a new friend. Today I can sit on the couch and stare out the window. Today I can paint the front door pink.

The truth is, it doesn’t really matter what I do or do not accomplish today. The truth is, every day I have the opportunity to make the most of what’s in front of me. The truth is, complaining about my circumstances won’t change them. The truth is, today is filled with endless possibility. The truth is, none of this stuff defines me.

The truth is, I’m free. And that excites me.

I guess sometimes all you need is a little perspective.

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