I know, this title sounds a bit dramatic. But after thinking closely what I´ve been experiencing the last few months/year I guess that’s what describes it best. For me, a quarter life crisis means you´re lost, to some extend, you don´t know what to do and how to go on especially after finishing school. What now?
We go to school for 12 years, then we study. We do our bachelor’s degrees, then the masters. All this time we might be so caught up in the world of studying that we don´t even ask ourselves. Do I even want that?
In my case, this question came up even before. And I will tell you why. It all happened during the past year, more or less. A year in which I had time to think and clear my head. But lets start from the very beginning.
A good student
For 12 years, I´d been a very good student. When I left school, I had a clear vision of what I wanted to do. While most of my friends decided to take a bit of a break from studying, a gap year, in which they travelled or engaged in some kind of social work, I had it all planned out. I was going to study journalism and political science and become a journalist writing about politics. Two years later, this plan has changed, has made a flic-flac about 180 degrees and stands now upside down on its head.
When I left school, I was not the tiniest bit interested in doing a gap year to go abroad and travel. I considered it a waste of time, I was more worried about graduating soon and starting to work. In my mind, I simply couldn´t waste this time and should rather invest it in my education. No time for fun. No time for experiences. Focus on work. How silly it sounds when I speak it out loud. How serious did I think being only 18 years old. I was more focused on making money and being able to afford a flat. I was so convinced that I wouldn´t achieve my goal as quickly and efficiently if I “wasted” my time travelling. On top of that I wanted to be a good student, a good child my parents could be proud of. After all, that was all I was used to be.
A year later
A year later, a lot has changed. I soon regretted that I didn´t take my time to travel and go abroad during a gap year. My opinion about travelling changed due to me getting to know my boyfriend who travels frequently. Once I heard about all the places he´s already been to and got inspired instantly. I felt the strong urge to do the same, to discover the world on my own. He, already, influenced me to rethink my priorities and awakened the urge of discovering, the dream to see the world and to go on adventures. Half a year later I ended up in Chile traveling by myself for the first time. Afterwards, I visited him in his home country, Brazil. The urge to travel and to discover was already awoken. And it would spread much further.
After I came back from my travels I applied for an exchange semester abroad, which I always wanted to do and was accepted. In early 2018 I moved to Bordeaux. There, alone in a new city, for almost half a year, the biggest switch took place. I began to question if I even liked what I was studying. I went deep into myself and the answer was not satisfying. I knew I always wanted to write, I love writing and I always did. But somehow I was convinced that I could only follow my dream in becoming a journalist. That was my version of finding a profession in which I could do what I love while getting paid for it. Well, not quite.
I realized that becoming a journalist was not the answer at all. After all, you cannot write as creative as you want when you´re just telling the news. To do that you don´t even have to be that good of a writer. You don´t have to come up with stories, you don´t have to be creative. You just have to be able to re-phrase context. As I wanted to be creative, this was not an option anymore. I also didn´t want to pollute the world with more negativity. We all know very well that negative news sell the best and the fastest. Apparently, we like to hear about other peoples suffering. I could go on about that for a while as well, but that´s a different story. A topic for another post. I just knew now, with all clarity, that this was in no way what I wanted. I wanted to be creative, to use my writing to help people rather than to sell more negativity. I wanted to do what I love most and just make up stories and write. Journalism was dead to me soon with zero plans of engaging in this plan ever again. But what now?
What now? I was posing that question hundreds of times. I didn´t know what to do, how to even write for a living. By this time, I was studying political science in Bordeaux, which is an interesting subject, but nothing I will further engage in the future either. I surely don´t want to become a politician nor do I want to work in that field. I know I would not be happy in this world.
My life had lost this sense of clear direction, of clear structure I had before. Before, I had a clear vision of where I would end up in five, ten years from now. Now, I didn´t have a clue at all. Everything and anything was possibly. I was overwhelmed by the countless possibilities that opened up, not knowing which direction I would finally end up in. My structure fell apart, left me with chaos in my head and a million questions. What in the world am I even doing?
I thought about travelling, about just quitting it all and travelling the world to see where I would find my answers. After I didn´t find an answer in Bordeaux, I moved to Spain to live with my boyfriend in May. There, I finally started writing again. Soon I realized that this was the activity I needed to do. It is my greatest passion, when I do so I often get caught up in the moment, I just let the words flow from my brain into my hands and type. And I could happily go on for hour without even noticing that time is flying by.
Discovering my passion
I started to practice what I love most. I started taking this blog more serious and started some other writing projects. And I enjoyed it. Following my passion has helped my greatly. It has brought some order into the chaos, has brought some structure back into my life. Even though I still don´t have a clear plan like I did before (and I probably never will) I´m not feeling that lost anymore. For now I can live with it as I finally discovered what I really want to do. In a way, I always knew it. I just forgot it on my journey.
How to discover your passion?
I know, however, that a lot of young people are not like me and sometimes don´t even know what their true passion is. I have been talking to many, many people who feel lost and don’t know what they could possibly do with their life. There are too many options, too many studies and jobs to choose from. How do you know you will end up in one you really like? You don´t. And how can you find out what you really want to do if you have no clue what to do? So many new jobs are emerging, so many new job ideas. In our world, you can basically become anything. You can become self-employed, work in an office, travel and work – the possibilities are endless and often leave us left in the paradox of choice. Too many choices – too much struggle to settle for one possible way.
I believe that this crisis or momentarily sense of not knowing where to go and what to do is normal in our modern world. With all our possibilities you have a huge list of things you could study, you could become. When I entered university, I was confronted with a long list of possible studies – some with very long and strange names which were hiding some unclear, broader meaning. For some, I still don´t know what they really stand for. However, we live in this world now and have to face its challenges. It might not be easy, but finding out what you enjoy most doing is the first step.
I can only stress how important it is there to find something you´re passionate about. Maybe you always knew it and just pushed it back in your mind like I did. Maybe you still need to find it. If you don´t know it, I would spend all my energy and time finding it out. I just can talk for myself here, but finding your true passion feels greatly liberating. It is something you are good at, you enjoy doing and you trust yourself to accomplish even more while engaging in it.
Meditation and other practices
I might write another update on this post when I feel like I have finally figured it out. So far, I can only offer my own experiences and the advice to follow your heart. It might sound cheesy, but listen deep inside you. Deep down, the answer is already there. You just need to be able to hear it. I did so through thinking, questioning, reasoning. Through meditation (learn more about mediation here). Meditating has helped me greatly and this journey too. It is by no means the solution to all your problems. You cannot expect to meditate for a few minutes and getting all the answers to your life`s problems. That´s not how it works. But it is the start of discovering what you really want deep inside. Go into yourself. Breath. Think. Once you engage in your true passion, everything will already be a bit easier. You have something that keeps you going, you have something you enjoy greatly in your life. For me, it felt truly great to go back to a childhood dream.
You can only benefit from being completely and truly honest with yourself. You might not like the answer at first – I didn´t do so either. Everything will seem chaotic and unsure at first. But in the long run, you will be so grateful of having given yourself the time to figure out what you truly want.