A Quarter-life Crisis Letter to Amanda
I met you today at the service counter in your office. You kindly helped me with my order as I made small talk by asking your opinion about a video I’m thinking about doing. There was no one else waiting in line, so we started talking about why I wanted to make this video message. I suspect my answer influenced you to tell me what must have been a difficult thing to say. You said that you’re 24 and suffering an uncomfortable quarter-life crisis. You feel lost and disappointed with what you’ve accomplished so far. You also mentioned that you felt like you weren’t living up to the same expectations as your siblings. I sensed that you didn’t feel very worthwhile.
Unfortunately for our conversation, another customer came in. I didn’t want to distract you from your job, so I said good-bye and turned to leave. But before I walked away, you encouraged me to write a quarter-life crisis article for my website.
This isn’t an article but it is a quarter-life crisis letter that I am writing it to you and any other people who happen to find it. It’s inspired by you and your quarter-life crisis, so I hope a few others can also garner some gifts from it.
As I was heading home and thinking about the short conversation we had, I wondered what a 46-year-old man can say to a 24-year-old woman that doesn’t automatically sound like a parental speech. I hope I can at least give you a few roadside reflectors in the storm you’re going through right now. These reflectors won’t fix anything for you, but hopefully they will let you know that although you’re suffering a quarter-life crisis right now, you’re on the right road and heading in the right direction.
There are a few things I’ve learned along the path I’ve traveled.
Number One: I believe in you. Although I don’t expect that my confidence in you and your ability to travel your path in a positive way means a lot to you, try to believe my statement. If I believe in you even though I don’t know you very well, how much more must your friends and loved ones believe in you? You are unique in the universe. Of the infinite number of ways all the molecules could have lined up, they arrayed in such a way as to create you. That makes you so amazingly original that there is no conceivable way you could ever exist again. Therefore, there are gifts in you that only you can give to the world. Find what it is that you really really really want, and then do it with zeal. Only you can give those gifts, so we all need you to give them.
Number Two: A quarter-life crisis (or any crisis for that matter) can help you define who you really really really are. A lot of the pain from a crisis is born out of us not knowing ourselves. We are taught by society to define ourselves based on external metrics such as accomplishments, other people’s opinions, and cultural or spiritual beliefs. But when a crisis occurs, we find out that many of those metrics fail us. Often it’s those very same metrics and beliefs that punish us the most during a crisis. The gift of a crisis comes when we listen to the still, small voice inside of our hearts. This voice frequently doesn’t line up with the external metrics we were taught, but this voice does stand true, especially in a crisis. If you take this time to get to know yourself, then when you pass through this quarter-life crisis, you will be in a much better position to live your dreams as fully as possible.
Number Three: Get to know yourself by spending time with just you. This works best if it’s in relative silence, at least in your mind. Think of an activity that you really enjoy and can do alone, such as sports or exercise, shopping, yoga, a hobby, etc. Try to avoid any form of media for this activity. Television, listening to music, and reading are usually too distracting to fit in with this suggestion, since they frequently influence how you feel with ideas from sources that are external to you. The goal is to get so engrossed in enjoying your activity that you stop thinking about your crisis and just enjoy your own company. The small break from the crisis this activity provides will give your mind a chance to define more clearly your goals, your obligations, and your likes and dislikes. It’s an entertaining way to silence the mind a bit without resorting to a monastery, abbey, or cave.
Number Four: Keep going. When you’re feeling lost, it’s very easy to freeze up and stop moving in your life. This is okay to do for short periods of time as you rest or recover from trauma, but it’s important that you don’t stay still for too long. Good things tend to happen to people who are moving. If you’re getting to know yourself, staying true to your ideals, starting to believe that you are unique and amazing, AND you are trying new ideas, you can’t help but find things that give meaning to your life.
Your quarter-life crisis is a difficult place to be; I am sorry you are going through it. I can only imagine the gifts you’ll give to others as you rise out of this dark night you feel like you’re in. You have a wonderful spirit about you, and a light that the world needs. Take this quarter-life crisis and grow through it. You are a true gift of kindness, full of goodness, and very worthwhile.
May Joy, Peace, and Contentment fill your heart.