Facebook reminded me that it’s been just a little over a year since I officially graduated from university and it’s going to be almost a year since I landed in the adult working world. How time flies. Every year, it seems we end up in a different situation, a different life, despite the date being the same. However, this year, I wished for the first time that I was back to where I was one year ago: at university, a bit confused and broke but ambitious and driven to do great deeds.
I think there has been a huge misconception shared by the current generation of Asian graduates: ever since I was young, I’ve been taught that to succeed in life, you need to follow a certain path—go to school, work hard to get into the best schools, work harder to get into the best universities, and your certificates will get you a stable, prosperous job. And that’s it. The ‘good stable job’ was deemed to be the end goal. Because once you get a great job with a great pay, you can do (buy) anything you want.
Except that times have changed and people don’t necessarily get married at 25 or buy a house or want to climb the corporate ladder… or even need to get a degree to find a good job. Adventure is now more desirable than stability; entrepreneurship is trending.
Thus, being stuck between these two eras totally tears me apart. Hello, quarter life crisis.
If there’s one TV show character which I can most relate to during this turbulent year, it would be Peggy Olson from Mad Men. If you don’t know who that is, I strongly recommend this series! My year was like her first days at Sterling Cooper, the advertising agency she works at: I was a quiet but enthusiastic girl, in the ‘new-job-and-eager-to-learn’ way. It was great.
But, like her, I was in an environment where what I wanted in life did not match what people expected me to want in life. Unfortunately, my life isn’t a TV show so this is still the case.
Fast forward about half-way into Mad Men and you see her blurt out the words that ring so true deep inside me: ‘You don’t know me.‘ Indeed, this whole year, I wish I had shouted that to people too. It is human nature to judge people from first impressions, but it is extremely annoying when they put you in a pre-made box, expecting you to act, feel and be a certain way.
Anyway, I would like to break down my current quarter life crisis into 3 parts: career, love, friendship.
Why am I sharing all of this? First, I haven’t been able to write a decent post this month because of that crisis; second, it’s a message to all of you who are going through the same shit, implying that you are not alone; third, it’s really therapeutic to do so, so if you are having a quarter life crisis right now too, comment below! It helps to talk about it.
By the way, I just realised my quarter life crisis is quite premature, considering that I’m only 23.
I’ve been quite open about my job status on this blog, thus my regular readers know that I’ve changed jobs and industries recently. Probation lasts for 6 months here, in Mauritius, therefore, since I switched jobs, I couldn’t indulge in any significant period of paid leave at all this whole year. In fact, the only legit day leave I ever took happened to be last Friday. Other than that, I’d only be absent because I’d be sick which was pretty rare.
I blame it on my Chinese genes, which dictates that hard work is more important and that I’ve got to prove myself to pass the probation period.
This leaves little time for myself (weekend is usually family time). That’s why this blog’s schedule has been a mess! Hah! But I also believe the transition to be quite abrupt: from having 3-months long semesters at university and long holidays in between to working non-stop every day of the year.
But the actual quarter-life crisis trigger lies in the fact that, despite leaving a job that made me feel worthless and insignificant and taking on a more fulfilling and supportive job, I still got depressed and felt empty. In fact, work was a distraction from the blues. Being career-focused, I was dumbfounded. If my job was not the problem, then, it meant that something important was still missing in my life.
The worst feeling is that this ‘good and stable job’ thing was supposed to be the end goal. To traditional people, I’ve made it in life. Yet, the question lingers: ‘Is that it?‘ Is that all there is to life? I’ve only lived for 23 years. And I don’t want the next 40 years to be like this. Stagnant. There has to be more to life than this, right?
As much as I love my current job and company, I’d much prefer to eventually spend the rest of my life working for myself, not for someone else. But then, the thoughts come: ‘Can you even be an entrepreneur or a leader? Quiet and shy as you are?’ I can’t even have a clear direction for my own blog.
The crisis gets worse from there.
I’ve been to a wedding this year. It made me feel… nothing. But the fact that it made me feel nothing made me depressed. Although this is increasingly becoming more optional, the next expected step for someone after getting that ‘job’ is to get married.
I’m not exactly against marriage; I’m just not interested. It’s never crossed my mind the way a career as a clinical psychologist had (brief but ambitiously beautiful). I go to weddings, I enjoy the food and the good-heartedness of the event, but nothing more. I don’t imagine myself as the bride and I don’t know what my ideal wedding would be.
This is where the state of what I want in life not matching what people expect me to want in life comes in.
I actually dislike falling in love. It makes you do stupid things and you always end up getting hurt. The only previously successful relationship I had started from a friendship. This year, I am single… and I guess, ready to mingle. Except I just want to date and not find true love.
A lot of people around me find it hard to understand the concept of dating before love. For them, if you go on a date, you are probably head over heels with that person. Well, I prefer to learn more about that person before involving any kind of feelings.
There are so many clashes in beliefs in this area of my life that, of course, they all added up to the quarter life crisis.
If you’ve been following this blog, I apologise for repeating this every time: I graduated from university in Malaysia last year and I am now back in my country, Mauritius.
In a nutshell, my closest friends are either still studying or working abroad (they left Mauritius like me too) or they are residents of Malaysia.
For a quiet person like me, I need a lot of time and a lot of hanging out to develop a meaningful friendship. And once you start working, making real friends becomes harder and harder. Besides, there is a thin line between colleagues and friends, which can sometimes be confusing. Despite that, I just can’t develop a deep friendship within a few months. Thus, I admit, I have been quite lonely, but only in the psychological sense.
I do have people who appreciate my company and vice versa, but so far, I haven’t had someone who is geographically close to me to whom I can go to at any time to talk my deepest feelings out. Thank god there are applications like Skype and WhatsApp. But I still find more value in face-to-face interactions.
Again, it is quite a brutal transition from being able to hang out with your university friends on campus 24/7 to being held at work and at home.
By the way, I don’t want your pity. Don’t worry too much about me. I know that this quarter life crisis is common and will soon pass. For now, all I can do is to keep going and keep grinding… until I find the light at the end of the tunnel.
Since this post is now out for the whole world to see, I will update this blog with any progress I make about this whole quarter life crisis thing. Want to follow my journey? Sign up below.
D. K. Waye.
(Please check your inbox to confirm your subscription, thank you!)