Ever heard of the quarter-life crisis?
‘The quarter-life crisis is a period of life usually ranging from the late teens to the early thirties, in which a person begins to feel doubtful about their own lives, brought on by the stress of becoming an adult. The term was coined by analogy with midlife-crisis.‘ – Wikipedia
Yes, this is what i’m unfortunately experiencing regarding which career path to take.
Whilst the years of early adult-hood are recognised as the only years in our lives that we have the least amount of responsibility whilst still having the freedom of a fully-grown adult, I’ve come to the conclusion that it couldn’t be any further from the truth.
Yes, most people my age don’t have the worries of child-care, marriage or mortgages, but the pressure hits just as hard. We are essentially made to choose the path that we are going to follow for rest of our lives. But i’m unsure as to how we are expected to come to such a life-changing and detrimental decision with the little life experience we’ve actually had. There is a lot more pressure to this decision than people expect.
Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. – Unknown
Now, I can only speak on behalf of myself, maybe everyone else has had no trouble in deciding what career path they want to take, but personally, I’ve struggled greatly – and I still am.
And that’s OK, that is perfectly fine.
Unfortunately the unpredictable roller-coaster that we call life gets in the way. It throws us off track and we have to spend time picking ourselves back up before we can even think about the future. I’m a big believer in putting mental health before any goal, dream or career, because without good mental health, I will never have the energy or power to achieve what I truly desire. Now this is what I believe, but it doesn’t mean I don’t struggle putting these beliefs into action.
Societal, peer and parental pressure is immense, let alone the pressure we also put upon ourselves. It is a hard battle to fight; trying to achieve our goals whilst simultaneously trying to keep ourselves sane.
Sometimes you have to stop worrying, wondering and doubting. Have faith that things will work out, maybe not how you planned, but just how it’s meant to be. – Unknown
Humans are naturally sociable animals, we care what people think, we want to be accepted, just like a wolf wants to be accepted by it’s pack. We can’t remove this social behaviour, but it can get to a point where it becomes more than a trait, and people allow it to become a part of who they are as a person and allow it to become their drive.
We can’t let this need of fitting-in dictate our lives. If you are not walking down the career path that you want just because this other path is seen ‘successful’, then you are heading in the wrong direction (It’s never too late to turn around though, and there’s most definitely nothing stopping you from fighting your way through and creating yourself a whole new path that’s never been walked).
I understand that we sometimes need to do things that we don’t want to do to reach a goal, but that’s different. Choosing to do something that you don’t particularly want to do because you so deeply and passionately want the end goal is drive, not lack of courage. Lack of courage is giving into the pressures you are faced by daily by choosing the safer option that you deep down don’t want to do, all because you are too scared of taking a risk, too scared of not receiving the approval of others.
But who are these individuals? Peers that will never lead your life? A society you will never meet? Whether these people are important to you or not, they will never feel your emotions, see life through your eyes or walk any distance in your shoes. You are the only person that will.
No matter how far you’ve travelled down the wrong road, you can always turn around. – Unknown
Now believe it or not, the person i receive the most amount of pressure from is myself. I have a track record of doing what I think I should do, rather than what i want to do. Honestly though, I believe that this comes down to me not actually knowing what I want to do, and rather than giving myself time and maybe floating around for a few months until it comes to me, I throw myself into something that is deemed respectable by society. Because ‘finding yourself’ is just another word for failure, right? wrong! Failure is not following your dreams, your passions and your talents.
Failure is heading down a career path you don’t want to go down, for another’s approval. That is failing at being yourself, and if that isn’t the worst type of failure out there, then I don’t know what is.
I have also picked up the behaviour of comparison. Instead of just focusing on my own growth, I look around and compare where I’ve grown least, to where other’s have grown most. And of course this causes the pressure to pile on. Why aren’t I where they are? What’s wrong with me? For example, me comparing the fact that I don’t know what career I want, to someone who’s already found their dream job. That is not a fair comparison and I will never come out on top, what they have wouldn’t make me happy. I envy the happiness that they possess from discovering what they love. I will one day hold this happiness, and it just so happens that my path holds a longer journey, maybe steeper hills or rougher edges, but it still leads to the same destination – my dream career.
I’m too busy focusing on my own grass to notice if yours is greener. – Unknown
No matter what career path you chose, you will have your doubts. If you chose to go down the artistic route of becoming a graphic designer, you’ll look around at people becoming accountants, teachers or bankers and believe that they are more ‘successful’. Believing that they are happier because their careers are more ‘creditable’. But the fact is, you are doing what makes you happy. If you aren’t happy doing what you are doing no matter how ‘successful’ that role is deemed, it has no worth. Why put hundreds of hours of your time into something you don’t care about? What is that achieving? Yes, money is great, but you only get two days off a week maximum to spend this money. The rest of the week is spent working.
It is also perfectly fine to not know what you’re doing, like me. I’m sat here at 9 pm writing this blog post when I have 3 assignments due for a university degree that I don’t even want to do. I don’t know what career I want, how would I know what to study? Do I leave? Do I suspend my studies and change courses for next year? Do I stay and just crack-on with it?
Rather than me accepting the fact that i wasn’t sure on what I wanted to do and maybe giving myself extra time, I threw myself into the deep end because it seemed like everyone else had it all figured out, so why didn’t I? I gave into the pressure that I was giving myself, as well as my peers. One thing I do know is that I won’t be rushing any decisions. Don’t try to force an answer because it will just blow up in your face.
Follow your dreams, they know the way. – Unknown
What path you take now isn’t the path you will travel down for the rest of your life. Plenty of new turnings, dead-ends and hills will come your way. No journey is a smooth one, and if the one you are travelling just isn’t for you, you can turn off and create a new one. Nothing lasts forever.
Growth takes time, some people take longer to grow than others. All you’ve got to remember is that you can’t rush art, and that one day it will all become clear, and you will become the happiest you have ever been.
So, are you going to remember all this?
1. Do what you love.
2. Don’t give into any type of pressure, especially from yourself – you are in control of your own thoughts, be kind.
3. Focus on your own growth and don’t even bother looking at what stages everyone else is at – why do they matter?
4. Nothing is permanent
Now get the hell out there and do what you love.
Please make sure to watch this video which features the philosopher Alan Watts. I can’t recommend it enough.