Tuesday, August 24, 2010

being 20 something

Today i went through some old pictures when i was in college, it brings back memories of the good old days.. where life used to be much much much more simple, the only goal was to achieve A+ in exam, the rest was all about socializing, doing stupid/crazy things with friends and having fun. Oh,and also the addition of casual romance every now and then.
After graduation, i was in for a massive culture shock upon graduation. Apparently "real life" was not as simple as i expected it would be. Some would say, welcome to the world of twenty somethings -- that uncertain time of transitions from classrooms and professors to cubicles and bosses.

Do you know how the real world differs from college? here, let me break it down for you:
- a lot less of vacation time
- can't sleep in
- WORK everyday, including fridays
- daily commute, which also means hours of stuck in the traffic
- success is not measured by grades
- no excuses for late work
- independent living, and expenses
- no drop/add for employers
- answers to at least one boss
- must work with people of all ages
- the word responsibility is taken wayy more seriously

With all that above, also comes the quarter-life crisis. Where people face anxiety, sense of being adrift, lost, and changing jobs, careers, interests, n even lives. I started to question everything in my life and was overwhelmed with doubt, anxiety and confusion about who i am and what i really wanted in life.

Try to answer the following questions, if your answer mostly "yes", then most likely you are in the quarter-life crisis:
1. Are you in a "funk" where you feel like nothing is terribly wrong, but nothing seems right either?
2. Do you feel older for the first time in your life?
3. Are you unmotivated, directionless or passionless?
4. Are you concerned that you don't know what you want to do with your life?
5. Do you feel pressure to grow up and get your adult life in order?
6. Do you feel entitled to a life much grander than the one you are living?
7. Do you often feel depressed, anxious, overwhelmed, lost, and maybe even a little hopeless?
8. Do you feel a lot of pressure and expectations to do, have or be something?
9. Do you ever feel that time is running out in regards to figuring out your career and deciding whether you want to get married and/or have children?
10. Are you stressed out by choices that seemingly will affect the rest of your life?
11. Are you experiencing confusion or disappointment in your career?
12. Do you feel that you have failed because you don't know what you want to do with your life?
13. Do you know what you want to do, but can't seem to make it work?
14. Is it difficult for you to make decisions and when you do, you question them?
15. Do you overanalyze yourself?
16. Do you ever feel guilty for complaining about your life or feel like you are disappointing people (especially your parents)?
17. Are you embarrassed that you have not figured out more?
18. Is a breakup, romantic relationship, or lack of one causing you stress and/or sadness?
19. Are you still living at home with mom and dad?
20. Do you frequently compare yourself to other people your age and feel like you don't measure up?
21. Do you feel financially unstable?
22. Could your self-esteem use an upgrade?
23. Are you thinking about going back to grad school because you don't know what else to do with your life?
24. Are you constantly thinking about the future resulting in anxiety and possibly panic?
25. Is your life just not at all turning out like you planned?

I'm not saying that being in quarter-life crisis is bad. It's perfectly normal, its just another phase in life. The twenty-something years are a confusing, scary, frustrating and exciting, stimulating, and transformational time. Unfortunately, a high school or college diploma does not come with instructions for the "real world". I have bought into some misunderstanding that by twenties, i am supposed to have my entire life figured out.
"Half a century ago, it might have been normal to graduate from college (or not), marry in your lower 20s, have a kid, settle down at a nice firm, put in your 40 years and clock out with a good-looking pension. But that's not the world we live in. Horizontal mobility, part-time projects, rapidly changing jobs: this is the new normal. Maybe it's because we've been hopelessly coddled and our brains, with their flaccid synapses, have been massaged into thinking we could land our dream job at 23. Or! Maybe it's because the world changed, and it doesn't make sense to start a family at 24 in the shadow of $15,000 in debt with a thimbleful of jobs that don't provide health care or the promise of stability." -Derek Thompson in theatlantic.com
You see what im talking about here. Should i blame the way pop culture has portrayed work, giving younger workers unrealistic expectations. In real life, discovering your passion and figuring out what you really want to do with your life is not as easy as it sounds, not to mention succeeding it. Often we would embark in series of wrong jobs/careers (meaning, jobs that we don't like/enjoy). Unless you are extremely fortunate, you are not likely to get the corner office, the multimillion dollar salary while doing your dream job, and living in mansion in the suburbs with your happy little family while you are in your 20s. Life is not a sitcom or a reality show, life is what you make it.

I am doing my best now, figuring out myself every single day. I am grateful to have a dream, cos i think not all people dare to dream and willing to work hard to make it happen, most of them just do whats lie in front of them. I may not know weather this job and what i am doing with my life now is the best way to get to my dream or not, all i know is that i am truly enjoying it and keep moving forward.

I feel like sharing this post to my 20 something friends out there :)

The Quarter-life Crisis
It is when you stop going along with the crowd and start realizing that there are a lot of things about yourself that you didn't know and may or may not like. You start feeling insecure and wonder where you will be in a year or two, but then get scared because you barely know where you are now. 
You start realizing that people are selfish and that, maybe, those friends that you thought you were so close to aren't exactly the greatest people you have ever met and the people you have lost touch with are some of the most important ones. What you do not realize is that they are realizing that too and are not really cold or catty or mean or insincere, but that they are as confused as you. 
You look at your job. It is not even close to what you thought you would be doing or maybe you are looking for one and realizing that you are going to have to start at the bottom and are scared.
You miss the comforts of college, of groups, of socializing with the same people on a constant basis. But then you realize that maybe they weren't so great after all. 
You are beginning to understand yourself and what you want and do not want. Your opinions have gotten stronger. You see what others are doing and find yourself judging a bit more than usual because suddenly you realize that you have certain boundaries in your life and add things to your list of what is acceptable and what is not. You are insecure and then secure. You laugh and cry with the greatest force of your life. You feel alone and scared and confused. Suddenly change is the enemy and you try and cling on to the past with dear life but soon realize that the past is drifting further and further away and there is nothing to do but stay where you are or move forward. 
You get your heart broken and wonder how someone you loved could do such damage to you or you lay in bed and wonder why you can't meet anyone decent enough to get to know better. You love someone but maybe love someone else too and cannot figure out why you are doing this because you are not a bad person. 
One night stands and random hook ups start to look cheap and getting wasted and acting like an idiot starts to look pathetic. You go through the same emotions and questions over and over and talk with your friends about the same topics because you cannot seem to make a decision. 
You worry about loans and money and the future and making a life for yourself and while wining the race would be great, right now you'd just like to be a contender! 
What you may not realize is that everyone reading this relates to it. We are in our best of times and our worst of times, trying as hard as we can to figure this whole thing out.