The demands of living can be so overwhelming that we sometimes feel as if each one of us is just a small boat tossed about by the unpredictable waves of life. Choices between career and dreams, expectations and reality, all of these, at some point, come crashing down on us all in one go. And when it rains, it pours.
The Filipino Millennial, now at the quarter of her life, faces the tough decisions of whether to pursue her dreams or stick with her current job. To pursue the dream is risky, but it’ll make her happy, fulfilled. To stay with the status quo is practical, secure but leaves her miserable by the day.
We are faced with the reality that the expectations and goals we’ve set for ourselves have not become living realities. Social media does not help but instead amplifies are insecurities whenever we see some of our batchmates “winning in life”, living the lifestyle we always wanted.
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Most of us either live to earn or earn to live. There’s no life in these yet one day we find ourselves stuck in this kind of limbo. Fame and fortune do not mean it all. Such is what Sarah Geronimo’s emotional breakdown echoed.
So how should we respond when faced with a quarter-life crisis? Here are some ways:
Pause and reflect. No, I don’t mean you should resign right away. Take your time to be alone, make a run through of your life. Write. Hike, go for a solo travel, make yourself scarce from the cacophony of the city. Weekends or nights are great for these or use those vacation leaves. Put your life in perspective. Judge yourself with the present you. Blame no one. Don’t make excuses. Disconnect yourself from social media. Other people’s blessings can sometimes be other people’s source of misery.
Ask serious questions. Ask yourself the tough questions and answer them honestly. Why are you in that job? Why do you think you’re not fulfilled? What are the sources of your unhappiness? If you leave your situation right now, will you be able to follow it through to the end? What do you really want? By answering these questions, we help ourselves realign with our purpose and life goals.
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Seek advice. And I don’t mean your usual touchy advice pages. Seek out words of wisdom from people of experience and character. The two-way process of conversations can also help you release the accumulated stress inside. Don’t ask for the advice that you want to hear; ask for what you need. Brutal honesty is your friend.
Stay physically and mentally fit. While you’re still weighing your choices, read, write, volunteer, run, workout. Don’t let your body rot just because you’re emotionally rotting down. An active mind and body will help you to keep away from stress and depression. Take care of your body. Love yourself.
Accept what you have and let go of what you don’t. Human beings are creatures of desire and want. And when we feel deprived, it causes a psychological mess out of us. Remember: until we’re dead, we remain a work in progress. Don’t measure yourself with the yardstick of others. Don’t run the race using the pace of others. You have one life to live, a will to use, a body to act with, so use them as you see fit, aligned with your purpose.
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Define or re-define your purpose. After many books and pieces of advice, it all comes to purpose. You’re not happy with your job because it’s not aligned with what’s in your heart of hearts. There’s nothing wrong if all you want is to get rich. That’s a reasonable sort of purpose: to get rich, to use the power and influence that comes with money to better help others and to escape poverty. If you want an advocacy-driven life to help the socially marginalized and economically disempowered, so be it. Just make sure you know and trust the wind that blows your sails forward.
Commit yourself to a decision. Most of the time, the thing we fear most to do is actually the one we have to make. Time waits for no one and Fortune rarely smiles more than once. Life is a series of choices. You can’t procrastinate your life. It’s not always fun and chill. Have the guts to get going. Move it!
Be aware of your mortality. I don’t believe being told that I’m young and I still have much time. No, I am not getting younger and I don’t own time. I do not know when I’ll die in my sleep or if I’ll die in a freak accident. Don’t presume you’ll always have tomorrow. We can’t change the past. We don’t know the future. But we can always do something today, in the present moment, which will vindicate our past and improve our future. Or better yet, think only of today. Because the surest thing you have is the present.
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You are at the crossroads of your life. It’s difficult, heart-rending, I know. But I tell you this: don’t ask to be happy, don’t ask for the easy way out. Instead, I ask you to be fearless, to take the road less traveled, to be faithful to your true self, and commit yourself to the process. Trust it.
Life does not belong to the quick or to the strong, but to those who endure and are able to adapt themselves according to the needs of their journey.
Take heart, this, too, shall pass.
Dom writes for pay by day and writes for passion by night. He is a Japan major at the University of the Philippines. He’s fond of ramen and anime but not of nice people.