There’s a number of people who have it really clear what to do in life and I envy them greatly. It seems like they have it all figured out and there’s a direction to their life. But it seems like there is a growing number of young people who are not so sure about their future and all the media telling us to “follow our passion” and “live the life we want” does not help when you have no idea what your “passion” is.
I have never known exactly who I want to be when I grow up (maybe apart from the really early times when I just obviously wanted to be a princess). I’ve struggled with that since the first moment I actually had to chose what direction to take regarding my future. And for me it was chosing a highschool. Then came chosing the university and the degree and all the other decisions that started coming on since then. Somehow I managed to go through those rather ok. I got my awesome degree abroad, Erasmus in the most beautiful city, a thriving relationship and a freaking crisis as what the hell am I doing with my life!
For some people this kind of doubts, if unsolved for a long time, may lead to a deeper crisis or a depression. This feeling is what is commonly called a quarter life crisis.
Quarter life crisis generally appears at some point in your twenties, but can carry on to your thirties. It brings an overwhelming feeling of doubt about all the aspects of your life. You may ask yourself whether you’re pursuing the right career or if you will ever be happy in any professional path. You may question your relationship or life goals and have a feeling of having forgotten who you really are. Allgroanup has put together a good list of symptoms to check if you’re really experiencing a quarter life crisis.
People experiencing this kind of crisis tend to jump into big changes. They tend to leave their partners, quit their jobs or the university, begin a new degree, etc. But there is a better, less drastic solution, that doesn’t involve hurting everyone around you and dropping everything you worked for.
And I say it is to travel. Shake things up, take yourself out of your comfort zone. Change is scary, I know, but it is worth it. I know the feeling of panic creeping up on me before the big change all too well, but I do my best to stick to my guns. And I’ve already moved to another city, country or even a new flat enough times to know that it’s hard, but it will do you good.
Travelling to another place, learning a different culture, talking to people with different view will refresh your perspective. It will also take the focus off of your own life. Travel doesn’t require any drastic shifts, but it does give you time and space to think and to detach.
Travel makes you modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world. – Gustave Flaubert
As I said, if the quarter life crisis hits you, you don’t have to drop everything, your job, life partner and the dog and go on a solo trip around the world with twenty euros in your pocket. Find a suitable way for you to explore the world. You can take a weekend trip to the neighbouring state or country. Find cheap airplane tickets and plan a week getaway. Do it alone, it will allow you to focus more on the experiences you have, test yourself in different situations. It will give you time to listen to your thoughts. Solving small problems along the way will give you strength to deal with the big ones in your life.
I have done my share of solo travelling and it’s refreshing and empowering. I honestly admit though that as much as I like taking my solo trips, I wouldn’t like to be on a solo travel adventure for too long because I miss my home and I want to share the experience. Although I live abroad, I keep close ties with my family and friends back at home, you don’t need to burn your bridges as you search for new solutions.
I decided to study abroad and make it my travelling experience. It’s slow travel, it’s moving at least temporarily to another place and learning to call it home. I tend to take my time with that, I have to learn to feel the place. It’s an odd experience, especially once you do it more than once. I fell like I have my “home” scattered around the continent, but that’s how I like it. I need my security inside all of the moving around.
Maybe that’s a solution for you? If you think about changing your degree and starting over, think about studying abroad, even if only for a semester. A quarter life crisis can be a wonderful opportunity to get out there and try new things. If you don’t know how to start thinking about studying abroad, these posts might be helpful: