Typically in the days leading up to my birthday, I find myself retreating and getting wrapped up in my own head a bit too much. Rather than just being my usual level of pensive, I give in to my excessive tendency to think, rethink and over think each breath and every decision I have or haven’t made throughout the past year, and then proceed to beat myself up for what I consider to be my shortcomings. I know. Healthy, right?
Rather than counting my triumphs, I add up my pitfalls. I become buried in nostalgia, and lost in longing. When milestone years loom, this behavior tends to be the worst. Meaning, I had an especially hard time last year in the days leading up to turning the big 2-5.
Oh the dreaded “quarter life crisis.” Yes, that thing.
To combat the impending crisis, I decided to throw a dance party celebration, fittingly titled, “Quarter Life Crisis//A Dance Party Celebration.” You know, just to take the edge off. It had all the staples any little girl could ever dream up—kegs of PBR, gin and cranberry cocktails, a DJ, fog machine and even a koala head with laser light eyes. Oh, and unicorns.
Now that I am almost to the other side of my so-called quarter life crisis, I can look back and say that while this year was filled with intense periods of self-doubt, as well as unexpected waves of hard to stomach surprises, scares, and losses, there was and continues to be much more to celebrate, than there is to mourn.
This year I’ve become more accepting of myself for my heart’s desires. And more willing to take the necessary steps to follow after them. And far less concerned as to whether or not anyone in the rest of the entire universe understands. If there’s been one constant in my life thus far, it’s that everything that means something to me has come with a price, or a hurdle, a seemingly insurmountable barrier, a challenge, or a chase.
I know what you are thinking. It’s the age-old “thrill of the chase” syndrome. I used to wonder the same. But I’ve realized that it runs far deeper than that. Truthfully I would rather die trying for or simply caring about something or someone that means the world to me, than live abundantly for nothing at all. This goes for my personal life, as well as professionally.
Speaking of professionally, since there’s always money in the banana stand (thank you for reminding me Arrested Development), five weeks ago I took a leap of faith and quit my full-time 9 to 5 job that I had become engulfed in for the past year and a half.
“I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.”
This quote that I stumbled upon in a book I am reading by Bob Goff pretty much sums it up.
Immediately after quitting, I went through the “five stages of grief” in about, oh, 48 hours. I realized I had nearly forgotten how to function not being burnt out creatively, or being bombarded with emails constantly. I was profoundly disappointed I let myself be held hostage in a world that put money over principle, politics over human interest. I was sad feeling as though I had lost some of myself. I then became hell bent on getting that self back.
I attended a high school graduation last week. Here, my little (might as well be) sister gave her salutatorian speech. Midway through she referenced an article she had recently read with a quote we’ve all heard many different renditions of throughout our lifetimes. A quote that doesn’t get fully realized enough.
“If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life.”
Four weeks ago I began writing full time for the alternative weekly newspaper I had been serving as a contributing arts and entertainment writer for.
This weekend I went as media to Hangout Music Festival, just a little hop and a skip from my Florida town, over the state line into Alabama. Saturday night, after watching Tom Petty perform in clear view from the front of the VIP/media area for over two hours, and as closing fireworks lit up the night sky, I felt like time was standing still. I turned around and watched people jump and splash into the VIP pool like a bad Spring Break beach party movie.
Here, amidst thousands of people on the beach, as the sweet winds of the South blew across my face, I had a moment of silence and thanks, for the privilege to soak up these sights, sounds and sentiments that I have the honor of experiencing—that others may not ever be afforded the chance to. It’s moments like these I have to pinch myself to a) make sure I am alive b) make sure I remember what these moments feel like.
With all the pain and sudden tragedy that strikes in the world, and even the loss that I’ve witnessed, or felt in my own life, there is no reason not to celebrate every single moment of simple joy that has been given to us. In fact, it’s a shame not to. My hope is that I can better remember how to embrace these moments of excitement, gladness and awe just like I did as a child, oh so sweetly, innocently and genuinely, instead of worrying about what is or isn’t coming next.
As 26 approaches, I can’t say I’m closer to figuring “it” out, but I can say that I’ve decided that “it” doesn’t look like something that’s for me anyway. I enjoy the uncertainty, the freedom, the mystery, the grace and the difficulties that make up my life, and the bumpy off-road route I’ve chosen to navigate down. I don’t know any other way to journey.
I don’t want to know any other way to live, other than being myself, and believing that’s enough. I am okay with not having anything mapped out with a level of certainty, past doing what I feel called to do, creating work that is meaningful, seeing where that takes me, going when I feel called to go, and trying to be more honest and open with myself, my loved ones, and the world around me in the process.
This hasn’t been my quarter life crisis. It’s just life, which happens to be a kick ass lesson (and sometimes crisis) in itself.
In the days leading up to 26, I am making a valiant effort to not derail from my quest of taking more moments to stop and be still and thankful, and celebrate each experience that I may never have again. Good or bad, happy or sad.
This may not be enough for you, but I’ve realized that it is for me.
image – Shutterstock