Wednesday, June 15, 2011

It's not a quarter-life crisis. It's life.

Photo by LarimdaME

The day before I turned 25, I ended up in the ER. At the time, I was there because I nearly fainted in the steaming Metro. A physiological hiccup, pure and simple. I went in, I went out, I drank some water, I was on my way.

What I wasn’t prepared for at age 25 was my psychological hiccup -- aka my quarter-life crisis, a self-conscious term that could only come of age with the Millennial generation. Ever self-examining and overachieving, my peers simply accelerated the midlife process and called the natural transition into real adulthood -- bill-paying, job-searching, rent-owing, mate-hunting adulthood -- the quarter-life crisis.

If I sound a bit dismissive, well, I am. Or, more accurately, I have become so. When my own crisis began, it was accompanied by doubt, anticipation, awareness of mortality, and an overwhelming pervasive question: What will I make of my life? What will life make of me?

After a lot of journaling and tearful phone calls with Mom, I changed jobs (now twice), picked up my creative writing again, and took steps to focus my life on what I felt I was being called to be.

Fast-forward to today, a month shy of my 28th birthday. And guess what I’m feeling ... doubt, anticipation, awareness of mortality, and an overwhelming pervasive question: What will I make of my life? What will life make of me?

Hmm. Curious. You mean that wasn’t sewn up three years ago?

Thus, the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that the so-called quarter-life crisis is not a singular, contained event after all, but rather the dawn of understanding that this is what life will entail for the rest of your time on Earth.

I don’t bold to scare; I bold to emphasize. Though these concepts sometimes make you squirm, they’re still good to ponder. They can introduce a wider worldview, invite you to pursue new goals, help frame your life, uncover some purpose. The point is to let them guide the big picture, and not to govern the day-to-day.

Doubt, anticipation, awareness of mortality, and overwhelming pervasive questions about the meaning of life did scare me at 25. They give me pause now. And I hope that in 10, 20, 57 years, they give me peace – not because I figured out the answers, but because I’m comfortable living the questions.

So if you’re 25 or so and reading this post, I don’t have much to offer beyond these steps:
  • Take a deep breath.
  • Follow your heart.
  • Drink plenty of water on hot days.
But trust me – that’s enough to get you started.

Prayer #169: Drawn and Quarter-life

Questions that come in the night are drawn in black ink – insistent, bold, stark. And though they may fade from view in broad daylight, their impressions stay on my eyelids, faint memories of blank answers.

Use my heart to trace the lines, Lord, and grant me the dogged faith to follow their loops and squiggles until the grand design is revealed.

Amen.

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