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Quarter-life crisis, be gone! - Say What? #30

Happy New Year! I hope you are all doing well, and that 2020's treating you good so far. Personally,
January 12 · Issue #30 · View online
Say What?
Happy New Year!
I hope you are all doing well, and that 2020’s treating you good so far. Personally, I’m enjoying my last few days in the UK before I officially return to Malaysia next week!
In the first #SayWhat issue of 2020, I want to write about the oh-so-dreaded quarter-life crisis. Hope you’ll find it beneficial! :)

What is quarter-life crisis?
There are different ways to define quarter-life crisis, but essentially it’s the time in our lives (usually around mid-20’s to early-30’s) when you start to question the big things in life. And, no, it doesn’t have to start when you’re twenty-five (quarter of a century).
You might have already shown some signs of experiencing quarter-life crisis if you’ve been asking yourself questions like:
“What am I doing with my life?”
“Why am I in this job?”
“Am I ever going to be successful?”
“What the hell am I doing right now?”
It can start off by the small things, like watching your best friends getting engaged or married, or seeing your friends being successful in their lives (i.e. graduating, getting a promotion or buying a house).
It can also be triggered by other things, such as graduating late from university or not getting the job you wanted (or thought you wanted).
I don’t know about you, but I can safely say that I’ve experienced some forms of it (and am currently going through some similar thoughts right now as well). And for someone who grew up in a competitive Asian household, it gets a tad bit worse as I’ve grown up to compare myself with other people around me.
“He’s younger than me, but his salary is almost doubled mine!”
“She’s my age and look at all that she has achieved!”
“How are they able to manage a family with a baby and STILL have time to do extremely well with their careers?”
(p/s these are legit thoughts from my mind)
Life's not a sprint, it's a marathon.
Two and a half year ago, I ran my first half-marathon. And, man, I got to tell you, it is physically and mentally exhausting as hell.
Despite the fact that I did not train as much as I should, it was a wonder how I managed to complete it. Pure marathoners (?) would tell you that to run a marathon, your body needs to be fully (mentally & physically) prepared for it.
There are various strict training regimes that you need to follow, to build up your endurance and train you on how to control your pace and everything. There’s no point in signing up for a 42km marathon if you’ve never done any 5km or 10km fun run, because your body would not be able to cope with the pressure.
Trust me, that is from my own personal experience. I did a bad decision in deciding to sign up and run a half-marathon in 2017, despite having done only one fun run in my life (the Color Run, and this was in 2014!). It was a grueling experience, and one that I wouldn’t want to do again unless I’m properly trained and prepared for it.
It’s a marathon not a sprint — an overused and misunderstood saying.
The same thing goes with life as well. There is no point in rushing everything through if you are not well-prepared for it.
Why the rush of getting married by 25, if you yourself are not ready for the commitments that come along with it? Why the need to own a house by 30, if you’re not financially stable to commit to a 35-year long loan?
I’ve seen and read so many stories about graduates declaring bankruptcy because they made the mistake of taking out a personal loan to finance their marriage, or making the wrong decision to buy a house early in their careers.
If you are financially stable and can manage to take on the extra commitments, by all means, go ahead. Some people are lucky or privileged enough to make it through early in life, and that’s OK. But that doesn’t mean that you are considered as a ‘failure’ for not being able to keep up with them.
Everyone walks on their own pathways, so embrace yours.
One thing that happened in my life that I am eternally grateful for is the fact that I was sent to the States to pursue my university degree. Being in the States, where the education system put more emphasis on individualization and flexibility, helps me to be less competitive with others and more competitive with myself.
For instance, my friend and I were both Actuarial Science majors, and we entered the university at the same time. Despite being in the same program and the same batch, I only see her in our Actuarial Science classes and perhaps in a few other classes throughout our 4-years of university.
Aside from that, our classes (or subjects) don’t overlap. I planned my schedules differently than hers, and took different subjects outside of our programs. For example, I took Video games & Learning to fulfill our ‘Communications’ requirement, whereas she opted to take a Theater class.
This 'individualization’ helps me to stop comparing myself to her (or to our other classmates), because I realized that none of us are taking the exact same set of classes throughout our whole degrees. Despite being in the same majors and graduating at the same time, we may not even see each other in the same classes.
So instead of comparing myself to my classmates, I started to compare myself with my past self. Was I doing better than I was before? How am I better or worse than I was last week? Did I make any improvements from yesterday? Was my grades better than last semester, or do I need to do more to improve it?
This can be applied to when you’re experiencing quarter-life crisis and witnessing all these great things that your friends or acquaintances may be achieving.
Understand that everyone in this world has their own pathways, and that your path may be different than others. You may not see the hardships that they faced, or the challenges that they had overcome. You have your own sets of obstacles that you need to face in life.
Catching the northern lights in Norway, December 31st, 2019.
Catching the northern lights in Norway, December 31st, 2019.
You're not alone in this.
It’s a normal phase to go through in life, so don’t feel like you have to fake a facade and pretend that you have everything under control. Find some people that you can talk to - a friend, a parent, a colleague. Everyone would experience some forms of quarter-life crisis in their life, so you are not alone in it.
Understand that it is OK for you to show some insecurities or express your thoughts or problems if you are facing them. You don’t need to hide it away like it’s something to be embarrassed of. It is not, and your feelings about it are completely valid.
Embrace it, and start thinking about what actions you can take to help remove some of the negativity in your life.
If you’re feeling burnt out or stressed out with your job, take a short break to recharge your mental state. Or, if you want (and can afford to do so), quit and find a new job that is more aligned with your life aspirations.
If you’re feeling bored with how autonomous life can be, start doing something different to help spice your life up. Take on a new hobby, go running or explore new places. Meet new people and learn new skills. Find ways to help you escape the mundane 9-5 work life.
Take things into your own hands and figure out what works for you. Because if you spend your time doing things to please other people, you’re never going to be fully satisfied. So figure out what you want to do, and plan your life around it.
From Silent Confessions.
There are a couple of new posts on the blog recently, so, if you haven’t read them yet, feel free to give them a visit and perhaps share them out on your social media as well! :)
How to survive the Master's dissertation/thesis. - Silent Confessions
A FutureMe email from December 2015. - Silent Confessions
My 2020 resolutions: A year of growth. - Silent Confessions
Signing off for now.
I hope that you’ve gained a little something from our first issue of #SayWhat of the year. As I’d be rejoining the workforce again, future issues of #SayWhat would cater more towards career-related issues such as this, so I hope that it is something that would be useful for you.
As always, my email inbox is open if anyone wants to share your thoughts, comments or questions.
Until I see you again in two weeks’ time, here’s a question for you to ponder on.
So far, what phase in your life was your worst phase? What about your best phase?
Stay awesome & take care everyone!
Nazu xx
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