One’s 20s are a weird time — you’re recovering from a teenage hangover, while learning the ropes of “adulthood”— fumbling your way through filing taxes, managing careers and making babies. This is when something particularly odd happens to you.
During a mid-week social media saunter, you learn that the “overachiever” in school (aka the teacher’s pet) landed an eye-watering package with Google in the bay area; the “stoner” now runs a multi-million dollar Crypto startup, where the “naive nerd” is now the CTO (chief technology officer).
You start digging further—the Math geek is heading Harvard’s black hole initiative; the “shitface” is an investment consultant at Bank of America; and the timidest hombre (man) is a graduate fellow at a swanky new cancer research centre.
You throw your phone aside in frustration and order a brownie to drown your sorrows in.
Welcome to your quarter-life crisis!
A quarter-life crisis can be debilitating. It’s when you feel you’ve not been “true to yourself”, often without a clue about who you’re supposed to be. It’s when you realise your life isn’t what you dreamed it’ll be.
It’s a crisis of the self : of self-confidence, self-esteem and self-satisfaction. Our social media-fuelled lives don’t help, and a global pandemic just makes it worse.
Now, more than ever, we’re feeling stuck, uninspired and vulnerable. Nearly 1 in 5 of us lost our jobs by the end of last year, and half of the Indian millennials surveyed by a foreign bank reported an increase in borrowing in August-September!
No wonder, 69% of Indian millennials took time off work due to stress — the lack of job prospects, inability to travel, and being forced to stay at home, has sent our generation into a tailspin wondering what’s the point of all of our years of hard work.
While I’m (quite clearly) not a Zen master or a productivity Jedi, here is how I managed to stay afloat amidst my ongoing quarter-life crisis.
If you “feel good”, you can trick your brain into believing all’s well. And in a way, it is, unless you’re (quite literally) under siege, because of a poor appraisal or a bad day at the gym.
Take yourself out for coffee, get yourself a nice spa or haircut, buy yourself a new pair of cashmere sweaters— anything to grudgingly jog away from your bad feelings. Scout “bad feeling” triggers (*ahem ahem* social media), and ditch them mercilessly.
You can’t mount a counter-attack unless you stop feeling you’re under constant siege. In the words of one of the world’s worst men: “Build a wall to keep the bad hombres away.”
Winning at life is like eating an elephant. The way to do it is one bite at a time.
Winning life’s bar brawls — making your own bed, keeping yourself and your washroom clean, feeling satiated and moisturised, keeping yourself and your home smelling amazing— will make you feel confident. Try it… It works!
Realise that every person is in a different edition of “Call Of Duty“. And, since you weren’t their comrade in theirs, you won’t be handed over medals while they win, just as they won’t when you win.
Risks feel amazing . They make you feel you’re living “on the edge”. They make you feel alive.
Try the $100 side-hustle you’ve always wanted, get a daily pass at the gym… Even if you limp for 10 minutes on the treadmill before you give up. Start learning something new that fascinates you. You’re never too old to start, you’re only too old to get good at it… Just kidding!
None of this will solve all of your life’s self-doubts, but it’ll help you scrape past most days. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?
Also, the next time you bump into yet another millionaire colleague at a local co-working space, mask up, turn up the focus music and keep your eyes glued to the screen.