The quarterlife crisis – it’s that weird time in your mid-twenties when you’re trying to figure out who you are and what you want in life. Trying to define yourself without those comforting collegiate crutches of school and major. Trying to decide what your priorities are now that they’re no longer being set for you by parents or administrators.
It’s an exhilarating, exciting time. Or so everyone keeps telling me. Personally, I’ve just found it terrifying. You see, I like being in control. And I hate not knowing what’s going to happen. I was never good at Choose Your Own Adventure books – I always skipped ahead to see the outcome of each choice before making a decision. Without the clear trajectory of the educational track, I’ll admit I’ve floundered a bit. It’s not that I’m not happy with where I am and what I’m doing. It’s more like I’ve got this general, underlying sense of unease. A sort of mid-twenties malaise that I think a lot of my friends also share.
You could say that this is even more pronounced because of the recession – we were told all our lives that if we did everything right, the world would be our collective, proverbial oyster after college graduation. Instead, we graduated into a failing economy, two seemingly never-ending wars and a country so divided that it can’t even clean up a damn oil spill without bickering and blaming like a bunch of partisan preschoolers. It’s not exactly an easy time to establish an identity. Especially when you can’t even establish a decent credit score thanks to all the college loans you’re still shouldering because you really believed everyone when they told you that degree would be worth a damn.
Anyway, that’s my rant. The point is, it’s a weird time to be anyone in the world. And an even weirder time to be a twenty-something. And I don’t know anyone our age who doesn’t feel a little worse for the wear because of it. Personally, a lot of those feelings have been bubbling under for a while now and – for a lot of reasons best left un-blogged – they came to a head for me this summer. Suffice it to say, it’s been a rough couple of months.
And, I’m sick of it. I’m ready to shake this damn recession-depression, kill all the quarterlife-crisis craziness and just go back to being happy, dammit. Or at least back to feeling content and in control of my life. And, in typical control freak fashion, I’ve decided that the best path to doing this is to establish a few rules. Because for me, the best way to feel like I’m going somewhere good is to know that I’ve got a set of steps I can take to get there. So, without further ado, here are my new rules of the road – a road that hopefully leads to happiness. Or, at least, to a happier quarterlife.
(1) Get More Sleep.
(2) Admit When I’ve Hit A Wall & I Need Help.
(3) Give Myself Credit When Credit Is Due & Don’t Dwell On The Mistakes Too Much.
(4) Be More Patient – With Myself & Everyone Else.
(5) Talk To My Friends More, Especially The Ones I Don’t See That Often. Make Time To Skype.
(6) Don’t Let The Bad Moods Of Other People Bring Me Down Too. If Someone’s Rude, Try To Just Let It Go.
(7) Get To Work Earlier. Leave Earlier. Stake Out Some Time In My Day That Just Belongs To Me.
(8) Turn My Phone Off For More Than Five Minutes At A Time. Even If It’s Just For An Hour.
(9) Write More. Watch More Movies. Get To MOCA More Often. Do More Of The Things That Make Me Feel Happy & Recharged.
(10) Eat Better & Work Out More. Get Serious About It & Stop Making Excuses To Fall Off The Wagon.
(11) On That Note, Get Back To The Darn Farmer’s Market Already. But Don’t Beat Myself Up If I Give In To The Occasional Potato Chip Craving. At Least Not Too Hard.
(12) Go Out To Lunch More Often. Don’t Spend All Day Sitting At My Desk. At Least Not Every Day.
(13) Once And For All, Stop Biting My Nails.
(14) Give People The Benefit Of The Doubt. But That Doesn’t Mean You’ve Got To Be Everyone’s Doormat.
(15) Try To Walk In Other People’s Shoes. Remember To Always Carry Flats For When Mine Start To Hurt Too Badly.
(16) Budget & Save. That New Car Ain’t Gonna Buy Itself.
(17) You’re Allowed To Sweat The Small Stuff. But Only If The Small Stuff Is Worth Breaking A Sweat Over. Prioritize.
(18) (an oldie but a goodie) Wear Sunscreen. And Don’t Forget To Reapply.
(19) Don’t Be Afraid To Go Into New Or Uncomfortable Situations. Or At Least, Don’t Be So Afraid You Don’t Do It.
(20) Remember, Life Is Short And You’re Doing The Best You Can. You’ll Fall Down, But You’ll Always Get Back Up. Don’t Let The Falls Stop You From Climbing Higher. (cheesy, but true).
(21) Give Myself License To Be A Little Cheesy. Not Everything Has To Be All Cool & Angsty Any More. After All, My So-Called Life Was Sooo Last Decade.
(22) Never Leave The House In An Outfit That Doesn’t Make You Feel Fabulous.
(23) Date More.
(24) Never Stop Looking For New Opportunities. Don’t Get Complacent About Anything. Or At Least, Not The Important Stuff.
(25) Trust Your Instincts. They’ve Gotten You This Far, Haven’t They?