After graduating from college in 2015, I constantly worried if I was on the right path in my career and virtually every aspect my life.
Sometimes I would try addressing questions such as “what do I want in life” and “when will I grow up?” And sometimes…I would just avoid these questions altogether.
Like a boss.
I genuinely thought I was alone in feeling…
Behind in life.
Clueless about her career.
…when the truth is, we all go through these feelings, no matter how old or accomplished we are.
As a matter of fact, even Adele alludes to this when she says, “Sometimes I feel it’s only me who never became who they thought they’d be.”
I’ve found that this anxiety stems from a lot of different reasons:
-uncertainty about the future
-the desire for adventure and stability
-a perception that “time is running out”
-disappointment when goals or expectations aren’t met.
And while this realization doesn’t make life any easier, it is empowering to know the source of my anxiety when I can pinpoint it.
Moreover, when I focus on what I can change rather than what I can’t, I am able to overcome my quarter-life crisis that much faster.When I focus on what I can change rather than what I can't, I am able to overcome my quarter-life crisis that much faster. Click To Tweet
So if you’re reading this because you don’t have everything “figured out” yet, take a deep breath and embrace that you’re right where you’re supposed to be.
You might not always have things under control, but you do have the choice to stay present and engaged.
Be open to unfamiliar experiences! Research different career paths, attend events, or work on a new project.
In my case, starting a podcast forced me to come out of my shell and practice being more vulnerable in the digital space. Even though I (still) find it awkward talking about myself, I do think it gets easier over time. And I’m inclined to believe that good things exist outside my comfort zone.I'm inclined to believe that good things exist outside my comfort zone. Click To Tweet
Similarly, blogging has given me a platform to express myself and reflect on my journey. In the beginning, I struggled to put myself out there because I was terrified of judgment (more on this later) and I felt pressured to write like a professional. But once I approached blogging from a perspective of “let’s just see what happens,” I started enjoying the process a whole lot more.
And in case you’re rolling your eyes at me right now, I’m not saying a passion project is the solution to an existential crisis.
I doubt you’ll stumble upon your life’s purpose that easily. However, I do believe that a creative outlet can bring joy back into your life when the going gets tough (or worse, repetitive).
In fact, we often get so hung up on past mistakes or experiences that we stop doing things that bring us joy. I’ll tell myself it’s “too late” to start this or “too late” to start that because of…blah blah blah…and that “there’s no point” because of x, y, and z.
But then I’ll see people of all ages engaging in the same behavior as well. Which leads me to believe that, in most cases, it’s really never too late to make changes in your life. You just need to hit pause on all the overthinking and explore for the sake of exploring—to allow yourself to “play.”
So whether you decide to start a blog, travel for a month, take a dance class, or volunteer, participate in something that brings you joy and allows you to express yourself freely. Take part in activities that force you out of your comfort zone and compel you to be more vulnerable. Enroll in a self-defense class. Learn how to code. Create your own opportunities.
Keep testing the waters so that you don’t give up on enjoying life. Get out of your head while you can (where all QLCs begin), and start engaging with the world around you.
Last year, I remember talking to my brother about starting a business and how I hoped to encourage people to tell their stories. But once I ended the conversation, it occurred to me that I rarely ever share my own—at least not on the blog. I thought about why I was so reluctant to discuss parts of my story and attributed it to the following reasons:
If any of these reasons sound familiar to you at all, I challenge you to reframe your perspective. Think carefully about how you’ve grown throughout the years.
I guarantee that there were people or moments in your life that shaped you into the person you are today—in subtle or significant ways.
A few months ago, my church pastor delivered a sermon on stewardship and how God calls each of us to be good stewards of our stories. He reminded us that when you choose not to share your story, you rob others of the message that it carries. You never know who might relate to your story or find solace in the fact that they are not alone.
One thing I like to do, aside from journaling, is to frequently update my “personality portfolio.”
In this private Word document, I list some of the most defining and memorable elements of my life story. I keep a record of my values, passions, skills, and interests, and write down my gifts and strengths, regardless of how small I think they are.
When you revisit your past experiences, you’ll always extract new lessons from them and see how much you’ve grown (or perhaps haven’t). That’s why I highly encourage you to document your journey and update your own “personality portfolio.” You might say, “I have nothing to offer. My life is boring.”
But even if you believe this with all your heart, do the exercise anyway.
Take a few minutes to write down everything that you’re mildly or incredibly good at doing. Then, examine your unique combination of skills. Don’t use this time to compare yourself to others and throw in the towel.
You’ll always find someone who is better, faster, or stronger than you in whatever. That’s a fact of life.
But you have to understand that your set of skills is going to be different from that of anybody else. And what you choose to do with your skillset, experiences, etc. is ultimately more important.
So again, remember to think about your “unfair advantage.” Ask your friends what comes to mind when they think of your strengths and weaknesses. Hopefully, they’ll answer you in a loving way. Jot down what you’re good at—no matter how trivial it sounds. Spot-on impression of Christopher Walken? Write it down. Slay at Mario Kart? Write it down.
Instead of wishing you had certain skills, start off with what you already have. I truly believe that God will bless you even more when you invest in talents He’s already given you.Instead of wishing you had certain skills, start off with what you already have. Click To Tweet
I’m not saying you shouldn’t educate yourself and learn about things you don’t know. Of course you should. But whenever you can, play to your strengths and enhance the skills you already have. Understand your strengths (and weaknesses) backwards and forwards. You never know when that knowledge will come in handy.
While we’re on the topic of self-awareness, I want you to stop for a second and turn off your phone. Don’t live vicariously through the lives of other people. Ask yourself what you’re really looking for in life at the moment.
A job? A partner? A promotion? All of those things are important, sure.
For instance, If you want to leave your corporate job and start your own business, ask yourself why. Is it because you want to work directly with the people you serve? Is it because you want the time and freedom to do meaningful work outside the context of a job? Is it because you want to spend more time with your family? Reflect on this for a minute and jot down some notes.
Then ask yourself, what might you be romanticizing or idolizing?
Dig deep with this question, even if it reveals some uncomfortable truths. For instance, maybe you realize that your dreams have changed throughout the years. Maybe you have a dream that might not actually be your dream.
To give you an example, there was a brief moment in time last year where I thought I wanted to become a digital nomad. Many people on social media seemed to be pining for that dream or making it happen, which is why naturally, I thought that’s what I wanted too (*smh*).
What I realized after being completely honest with myself, is that becoming a digital nomad was not actually my dream, but somebody else’s. Yes, I wanted to travel whenever I wanted. Yes, I wanted flexibility and the ability to work for myself. But what I didn’t want was to be traveling all the time. I realized that I wanted a home base near my family and a community within reach. I wanted elements of the digital nomad lifestyle, but I didn’t necessarily want to become a digital nomad.*
(*Note: I don’t think think there’s anything wrong with being a digital nomad—I just didn’t pause to think whether that was something I truly wanted.)
So whatever goals or dreams you might have, factor in what matters most to you in life and what you care about deeply. That way, your dreams aren’t being influenced by that of somebody else.
Now that you’ve reflected on your gifts, interests, and passions, consider how you want to contribute to your community and what legacy you want to leave behind. How do you want to serve others?
One way to answer this question is to start with yourself. It’s that simple. What’s something that you yourself have struggled with in your life or profession? In many cases, we want to help other people overcome struggles that we ourselves have faced or continue to experience. For instance, if you used to have self-esteem issues growing up but have overcome obstacles in that department, maybe you want to empower young people to become confident in their own skin? If you were once in a lot of debt but somehow found a way to pay all of it off, maybe you can help others do the same!
Start small, but dream big.
If you don’t have a “passion,” then welcome to the club. You probably have several and can’t choose one. Or, you may not have a single passion. And that’s fine too!
Passion is fleeting but purpose accrues.Passion is fleeting but purpose accrues. Click To Tweet
As you develop a sense of purpose and engage in activities that are meaningful to you, your desire to make a difference grows too. And chances are, you might even become passionate about the work that you find purposeful.
My guess is that you’re agonizing over this whole “passion” thing because you want to make a difference. You know there’s more to life than just hopping from one company to another. Or moving from one relationship to the next. You know you were made for more and want to stop escaping your problems or, even worse, conforming to what you think you’re supposed to do.
Instead of beating yourself up about finding your passion, think about your life in terms of purpose. I highly recommend reading Laura Simms’ The Purpose Paradigm, which I discuss briefly in an old blog post here.
Lastly, this one took me a while to figure out but…drumroll, please…you don’t have to wait to be rich, successful, or famous to help other people. You can start today.
What. a. concept.
This a-ha moment (yes, call me “slow,” I understand) is what compelled me to volunteer at my church and serve in other capacities. I figured that if I can serve God through this opportunity and make even the smallest of a difference—I might as well do it. And I’m glad I did.
Turns out, meaningful work doesn’t have to be confined to your professional life. Choose a cause that you care about, think of ways you can start contributing today, and continue with it little by little every day.
If you’re still stuck after months of deep-diving and soul-searching, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you. The term “quarter-life crisis” might sound a bit overdramatic, but the symptoms of it are undoubtedly real. Reach out to friends and family if you can, or at least someone you know who will speak the truth in love to you. And consider seeking help in the form of counseling, small group, or 1:1 coaching sessions.
At the end of the day, if your anxiety is affecting your overall well-being, it’s ok to ask for help! This Type A, self-starter here did too. For instance, I enrolled in an online program that gave me three-months of access to two wonderful business coaches and a supportive community. My coaches helped me craft a business plan and (finally) get started on some of my career goals. Working with them showed me just how much you can accomplish when you have someone helping you along the way.
I’ve struggled with this too my friend, I have. Prayer can be difficult for both non-Christians and Christians alike.
But even if you’re not a follower of any faith, talk it out. Be vulnerable.
Your prayers might get a little emotional, and that’s okay. I still cry from time to time (aka often) when I pray about my struggles or weaknesses.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” -Corinthians 12:8-10
Consider reading a devotional and then journaling about how the message spoke to you. I don’t always do a great job of sticking to a prayer routine, but whenever I can, I try to reflect on a Bible verse and see how it applies to my life at the moment. I then pray to God and ask Him for guidance.
And again, even if you don’t pray at all, try to form a habit of checking in with yourself and running through the day’s events before you go to bed. Make time for silence and solitude. Eliminate the noise in your life to hear what God (or somebody out there) might be saying to you.
The older I get (even though I’m only 24), the more I find that this “quarter” of life is meant for constant soul-searching and exploration. It’s a normal and necessary part of growing up, and it’s a lesson in patience and faith. So even though I’m not where I thought I’d be today, I’m staying thankful for the present and learning just how much power I have to create my own opportunities. Hopefully, you will too.
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