The Hard Lessons I Learned While Going Through My Quarter-Life Crisis

Firsts have a way of sparking realizations during an uncertain time. Doing something new can be downright scary but eye-opening. We are emboldened by our choices. Now, I am totally cool with the concept of being content; it’s seeing self-compromise as the highlight. It’s not just black and white – I used to seek highs to feel elated then come crashing down. The traditional definition of happiness is overrated; cheap thrills are temporary. Life’s journey is learning to be more even-keeled and starting to find joy in “suffering.” The relative downtimes were softened by little surprises. I carry full faith things will work as they should and always remember to look at the bigger picture. These are hard lessons learned:

Career Clarity

First and foremost, find yourself.

I had blinders on post-college, trying to climb the ladder of a job I enjoyed and was skilled at but more-so fell into. Every step was deliberate but perhaps more for ambition’s sake. Once I got to the height of filling in at the national anchor desk, I appreciated all the experience that prepped me for the moment to shine, but I sat there in a box, literally and figuratively. Now I’m reinventing, re-prioritizing and rediscovering interests and hobbies.  I’m getting closer to finding deeper passion, carving out a creative outlet and tapping into the entrepreneurial spirit.

Accept so-called failure as success.

Also, ending up in the red is not an option. Freelancing is a hustle that sometimes feels freeing, often times frustrating. I don’t apologize anymore for being a professional amateur with several interests. Versatility is one of my greatest assets. When one becomes “successful,” the person is described as a quadruple threat.

Establish your voice.

With practice, I found my teaching style – in yoga and in journalism. I gave back as a broadcast mentor to the first media conference I attended eight years ago as a scholarship winner. Seeing and shaping future minds keeps me inspired.

Soul Searching

Take a leap of faith.

I bungee-jumped, knowing that the rope is not going to break, trusting that I will bounce back. On the hike up the cliff, I felt my grandfather’s spirit for the first time. I flew to foreign countries and crossed off a cross country road trip. I’m not afraid to write things down or check things off. However, I’m letting go of that bucket list pressure and the decade deadlines.

Stop being so selfish.

I began to only pray for others, find happiness (and not comparison or jealousy or self-doubt) in their success. Be more compassionate and know a negative reaction is not a reflection of you. Everybody’s going through something.

Establish honesty, integrity and authenticity as the best policy.

I published an e-book as a first-time author and remain true to my word and myself. I know what I like and don’t like and am not afraid to admit them. Don’t let others’ comments get to you. Judgment is laced with assumption.

Redefine Relationships

I got over my first, real, long-time significant other.

Being able to say someone name’s neutrally takes a lot of tears and time. It kind of did happen overnight. In between, I went on a lot of first dates. I opened myself to be vulnerable. I have a better understanding of what I want vs. need in the future.

Reach for the role model a different way.

Instead of trying to follow someone’s path step by step, make their losses and wins indirectly relatable. I continue to make a lot of first introductions in different fields that lead to fun coffee meetings. Don’t burden your existing friends, recognize help will more likely come from your second or third degree connections.

Learn to listen.

Staying silent/still is difficult, like meditation. Most people want to talk about themselves and get something off their chest. I still get distracted sometimes, but I find myself more present and engaged.

Get Physical

Go golden.

I went blonde for the first time, even streaked my hair pink. I let my exterior reflect how I felt inside, even if I don’t look corporate conservative anymore. It’s gotten me a bunch of hipster acting work.

Stop talking down to yourself and start listening to your body.

I now get why celebrities shout on magazine covers they feel best in their thirties! While I’ll indulge once in a while, I no longer crave salty or fried and feel a little queasy when overcome with a sugar rush. Get easier about having a bloated Buddha belly.

Get upside down.

Ask what is holding you back from a handstand? I’m at tripod and realize once you stop being engaged, that’s when you fall on your butt. As a recently certified yoga teacher, I see that balance is about trust:

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein

Who can argue with a genius? TC mark

Featured image – Ko Im

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