Helloooo there guys!
The beginning of this week had me in a frantic. I’ve been on bed rest and that gives me lots of time to think about things that scare me, and then I get worried, and then I panic. And as I was trying to work through this particular issue I realized that a lot of you might be going through the same thing. In fact, I’ve discussed this with all my sisters, and each of us are going through it in our own way. So, I know there must be others out there as well.
It took me a while to figure out what we were all feeling. But one of my sisters opened my eyes to the perfect label: it’s a quarter-life-crisis.
I’ve been trying to sit down and write this post for a very long time, but I felt inadequate. How do you write about issues you haven’t personally overcome yet? But if my sisters and I aren’t the only ones going through this, then maybe I need to talk about it. Is anyone else keeping silent and feeling lost, too? It’s taken me several months to work this out. And I don’t pretend to have all the answers. But I have found a few coping mechanisms and thoughts I want to share.
This post applies to 20-something-year-olds who are entrepreneurial, big thinkers, dreamers, multi-taskers. You are the Ree Drummonds and the Joanna Gains of the world. You are motivated, with a heart to do something bigger besides the cookie cutter lifestyle people expect you to live.
What Is A Quarter-Life Crisis?
I don’t think “quarter-life-crisis” is a real term, but it is a very real feeling. We live in a world where we are expected to graduate high school and instantly make demanding, life altering choices about our future. We are expected to go through college at all costs, even if that means we don’t know what we want to do and we graduate with $80 thousand dollars of debt by the time we’re 24!
After graduation we start to realize that our choice of career is not fulfilling, nor is it what we feel meant to do. But we are chained to the choice because…we have debt. It’s the modern day form of slavery. For the next 20 years we will work for a system designed to build the empires of other companies.
In many ways, I see the “American Dream” reemerging as the popular choice for millennial kids. We want to pioneer the entrepreneurial world, build things with our own two hands, and make a difference in the world. Millennials are realizing that working a cushy office job is lucrative…but not necessarily fulfilling. It’s not reeking with meaning and purpose. When we die are people going to say, “She spent her life in an office, building someone else’s dream”?
We want more than that. But life got in the way and we feel stuck in debt, peer pressure, and lack of direction. Our parents, society, teachers, and friends give us that crazed look when we try to express these feelings, and that forces us to suffer silently. We stop school because we don’t want to go on with something that feels empty. But what do you do if school is all you know to succeed? When people ask you, “What do you do?” you fumble around, trying to justify ditching college and working on the dream you’re chasing.
So the quarter-life-crisis begins because we don’t know how to get out of the hole and live a self-made life.
What Does The Bible Have To Say?
I’ve been reading and re-reading Proverbs 31. And I see a woman who lived entrepreneurial. She lived for others and created herself into an icon. She made differences in her community by reaching out to the poor and needy. She created a modern home where her “merchandise was good.” Her husband was respected because of who she was. She owned her life and created a home, job, and identity for herself. People loved her for it and called her blessed. The idea of living a purposeful life is not a new one, and it’s even Biblical.
As women we allow ourselves to feel pressured into mastering a college degree. We smother our dreams because they feel scary and looked down upon by peers. But in reality, we are capable of doing so many different things!
A symptom of a quarter-life-crisis is living despairingly. I despair I’ll lose sight of the woman I fought so hard to become. I despair I’ll digress into that kind of woman who never amounted to anything but a “depend-opotamus” (that’s the military definition of a mooch. Ha!) I have so many things I want to do before I die. I can’t help to wonder, are my dreams shot now that I have a baby on the way? Can I still enjoy hobbies like rock climbing, blogging, and horseback riding? Is my freedom gone? Will I lose my identity? Can I be an inspiring mother and a business owner? Will I still pursue my dreams, or get lost in diapers and chores? I fear that my dreams of entrepreneurship will crumble around my feet. Shaking off this fear of failure is like trying to hide from my own shadow. That’s a pretty raw and desperate picture, but I know that these thoughts and fears are a reality for a lot of us. At the end of our prime, we don’t want to look back and see emptiness. That is terrifying!
So how does one make a difference in their 20’s? Are we really failing as much as we feel we are? What if these are just feelings and not realities?
The truth is, God gives us big dreams and Satan starts plotting how to light a match to them. He wants to destroy our joy. He wants us to fail. He wants us to freak out because when we do we reflect Jesus’s ability to help us. Satan loves a freaked out Christian.
But the Bible says:
Below I have made a list below of ideas I’m using to stay on track. It helps me focus when I’m in the dumps. Remember dear girl, you are so much more beautiful, powerful, and productive than you give yourself credit for. If God gave you dreams and skills and desires, then he didn’t design you to live an empty life. The Proverbs 31 Woman is what he expects, desires, and equips us to be! And through him all things are possible! I hope this list is inspiring to anyone going through a quarter-life-crisis.
Create A Realistic Dream Sheet Of Things You Want To Do
(And Then Do Them)
I realized something about education and self-improvement: college isn’t the only alternative. Just because you find yourself in a place where you feel lost, or college isn’t available to you at this very moment, doesn’t mean you can’t keep moving forward! Every “non-college” class I take, every experience I receive, every person I meet, every place I go—it’s all part of education. Experience equals education. Make a list of things that interest you, and then explore them.
Education is about investing in yourself. Do you love dance? Take an adult ballet class! Do you love art and want to make money doing it? Take an art class at your local library. Do you want to be a business owner someday? Buy some how-to-business books and start studying! (This one is my favorite.)
I realize that with a baby, I can’t start up college classes in a few weeks like I’d like to. Instead I’ll spend most of this year at home getting her settled. But that’s no excuse to lose track of my dreams and let my skill sets dull. I can still take online classes, study on my own at the public library, or be part of community small groups.
It’s okay to take baby steps. The important thing is that you keep taking steps! Size of the steps is irrelevant. So, sit down and write a realistic dream sheet of things you want to be better at, things that will help you reach your goals in the future. And then work them into your busy schedule. At least you can say you are working towards your goals! You will feel more accomplished and interesting!
Focus On Attitude/Positivity
My sister keeps telling me that happiness is a choice. I keep forgetting this and she keeps reminding me, but it’s true. It’s hard to choose positive vibes when you’re struggling. However, I think this is a life long endeavor we need to habitually practice every day. It’s not going to happen over-night. But if we try to incorporate it, eventually life will look more productive. Besides, successful people are always positive thinkers. Positive people take more risks and are more willing to go an extra mile.
A great place to start is look back on how far you’ve come already. Make a list of all the things you have accomplished thus far and a list of all the little things you love about your life. It’s okay to be proud of yourself and use that as motivation to accomplish the next task.
Give It To Jesus
One of my goals is to stop complaining in front of others, and instead take my burdens to Jesus. I notice a huge difference in myself when I do this simple thing. I don’t need to burden friends and family with issues only Jesus can fix anyway. If I feel lost, I pray about it. If someone judges me, I take it to Jesus. If my dream is a little fuzzy, I take it to Jesus.
This is a huge motivation to stay positive, move forward, and be a happier chick!
Remind Yourself That This Is A Season
You can’t afford college. You feel lost in which direction to take. You had a baby, got married, or broke a leg and your life got put on hold for a while. Remember: this is a season.
Nothing lasts forever. 6 weeks postpartum is only 6 weeks—not 6 years. A semester off is only 4 months—not 4 years. A broken leg is only 5 weeks—not 5 years. Instead of panicking, use your down time to get close to God and listen to his voice. He is more likely to speak to you when you are still rather than when you are too frazzled to listen.
God never finishes someone’s story in the same place he found them. Your season will pass and new ones will begin.
Stop Worrying If Others Are Judging You (don’t worry, they are)
One of the most debilitating things for me to cope with is judgement. And I get a lot of it. (People have nothing better to do than torture 20 year olds?) But at some point, we have to learn to live without it. Truth is, people judged me for having a baby so soon, and others judged me for not having one sooner. People judge me for wanting to go back to school, and others judge me because they think I should stay at home for the next 20 years.
Another area of judgement I feel people inflict is that they think I stay at home all day and do nothing. They don’t see the hours of work I put into taking care of my family. They don’t see me working on this blog (and it’s real work!) They don’t see me slaving every day building a plan for my future career. They don’t see me making plans to balance school with baby. They don’t think all the little side-classes I take, the organizations I am part of, and the books I read are “important like Blake’s work.” They don’t see that building a dream from scratch is long, hard, unorthodox work.
Their judgement hurts. It makes me feel worthless and behind everyone else. But the truth is, I’m not living for them. I’m living for my little family and myself—just like the lady in Proverbs 31. I’m building a life I will be proud of. It’s not about them. One of my mentors told me in regards to doubters and haters, “All that really matters is that you know, Blake knows, and God knows.” Nuff said.
Judgement is a fact of life. Once we ignore it, we can move on more productively than ever before.
Surround Yourself With Inspiring Women
I recently reached out to one of the inspiring women in my community and asked her for some counsel. She’s who I want to be when I’m 35. She’s a mother, a two-time business owner, and open to mentoring girls like me. I was scared to ask her at first, but found that she was more than willing to share her experience and advice about what I should do.
She showed me that the judgmental people who influence me need to go. I need to surround myself with women out there making a difference in the world. A huge part of this quarter-life-crisis is that we only allow the negative people inside…and that’s not helping anyone.
These women can be mentors, YouTubers, girl squad, authors, historical figures, or a mix of it all! You must allow yourself to be influenced and taught by strong women who have walked in your shoes, or by women who believe in the shoes you’re walking in. It’s amazing how much better you’ll feel when you realize you aren’t alone and someone has your back.
It’s Never Too Late
And lastly, it’s never too late to change your path. One of my best friends is going to school for ultra sound and she told me she’s studying with many classmates in their 40’s! Think about that! Girls going back to school in their 40’s because they decided their new life calling is to help babies. Just because you didn’t figure it out in your 20’s, or even 30’s, doesn’t mean you wasted your life.
Life isn’t a waste if you live it productively. Enjoy the now. Invest in yourself. Do things that make you happy. Be a full-time student of education and pull from unorthodox places to learn. You can do so many things, and it’s okay if it takes a life time to do them all!
(This post contains affiliate links.)