A Quarter Life Crisis can be defined as, ‘a crisis that may be experienced in one’s twenties, involving anxiety over the direction and quality of one’s life.’ And if like me you are going through one too, just like a mid-life crisis, you will take drastic measures to rediscover yourself and what you think you know about life and why you’ve been given one.
It’s terrifying, and that old clichéd feeling of being indescribably and unnecessarily lost will snake over your thoughts every time you wake up.
You don’t know who you are, what you’re doing with your life, and start to realise that the decisions you make now will shape you for the next 20 years. You’ll question friendships, relationships and your image. You may even begin to slow down as you walk past the tattoo parlor, hoping to recover a bit of your youth in some way. Some of us go back to school or decide that a switch-up in career is enough, but here’s why the best answer to a quarter life crisis is to quit everything, pack up your life and discover the world with travel (hopefully before any permanent bodily damage is done).
It gives you plenty of hours to think.
Sometimes the best ideas come from stepping back and taking time to just sit and do nothing. When you’re travelling through countless airports and bus stations, the endless hours to waste away will certainly take their toll on your confused brain. Don’t numb it with games of Candy Crush or seeing if you can sample all the crisp flavours in the terminal shop but instead relish in it, let yourself get lost in your subconscious during this time, it will clear your head and enable you to really find out what you want to do when you get back to reality.
There is opportunity to do crazy things at every corner.
Part of having a life crisis is having those YOLO moments, doing something scary and thrilling and nothing you’d ever thought you’d be brave enough to do. So unless you’re backpacking through a potato field in the middle of nowhere (and even then it’s debatable), there are chances to tick things off your bucket list wherever you go. Talk to someone in a language that’s not your native tongue, do extreme sports, jump out of a plane if you have to, it will give you the kick you need to not only make yourself proud for doing them but letting yourself know that having fun and halting that niggling worrying about the future for an hour or two is worth it.
You’ll meet people in exactly the same boat.
Feeling forlorn can be a very lonely place. Trying to solve your problems with just your inner monologue is not healthy, and while your family and friends will be there through it all, they may not fully understand what you’re going through because they’re not at that stage in their life. Travelling guarantees plenty of people just as lost as you are. This not only makes you feel like it’s 100% normal, but by swapping stories of your woes, discussing options and listening to those who may be coming out of their funk all the better for it on the other side will act as mini free therapy sessions. It puts your mind at ease and makes you amazing friends along the way.
It will make you appreciate what you’ve got.
The irony of a quarter life crisis is this: you are having said crisis because of the sheer amount of choices you have and you simply don’t know which to pick, you then think that going to the other side of the world will help you find yourself, but what do you find? Often, depending on where you travel to, but very often you will find people who have little or no choice in life. You will see cultures so unlike your own, infrastructures to make you weak at the knees and make you realise just how lucky you are to be in the position you are in. You may not have the faintest idea what you’re doing with your life but think about the little boy that you’re looking at from an air-conditioned taxi, as he sells cold drinks in between traffic jams to afford a meal for him and his family. This experience is both incredibly sad, unfair but bitterly uplifting. You have been given opportunities he can only dream of, and yet he’s got a huge smile on his face. I thank the world every day for what I’ve been given because of this irony.
It gives you some culture as an added bonus.
If all else fails, you’ve burst out of the comfort of your own four walls and experienced a thing or two in the world, and while you may not have discovered exactly what it is you want to do, you’ll have seen, heard, smelt, tasted and shared memories you can’t read about in books, and that’s enough.
You’ll remember it for life.
When you look back on your travels in 20 or even 30 years time, will you remember the frightened lost soul you once were? Maybe. But you’ll think back on your time fondly, because it’s OK to feel lost in your 20’s, it’s actually a rite of passage and you dealt with it in such a life enriching way that you will never forget. So confess to yourself that yes, this may be a crisis, but after every disaster comes lessons learnt and new discoveries, and travel will bring you everything you need to get through it.