I had a quarter-life crisis and it was the best thing to happen yet

Sometimes shit can be turned to gold when you start asking the right questions

Since I was a kid, I asked far too many non-sensical questions. I used to drive my mom crazy pointing out normal occurrences as groundbreaking hypotheses that didn’t have answers. “Mom, why is that tree on the corner of the yard?” “Why is that lady sitting on the bench and not the chair?” We’ve all been told that there is no such thing as a stupid question. That is mostly true. But I’ve come to realize that there sure are more worthwhile questions to be asking.

“What do I value in life?”

It all began in high school

Ambition and drive have always been core traits of my personality. I didn’t necessarily strive for the trophies (since they tended to be handed out far too easily to our generation), instead I wanted to achieve successes that were intangible and added “value” to my path of post-pubescent self-discovery. Since contemporary college admittance is so ruthless, I had to do something that stood out. Which clubs will help me stand out on my college application? Should I run for student class president to prove my leadership capabilities? What competitions will make me a more “holistic” student to a college admissions team? Looking back, focusing on these short-term goals would only further complicate my search for self-value.

College is where dreams are made to be broken

Getting into the dream college is the easy part. Fulfilling that dream college experience is the real challenge. Now being surrounded by people who are seemingly all equally talented and smart is the Hunger Games IRL. What student organizations do I select to give me that edge? What leadership roles give me that foot in the door for my first job? How do I balance getting blackout drunk Thursday nights at the dive bar downtown and wake up in time for my 9:30 a.m. lecture?

My whole future is ahead of me and everything I do now will set me up for success or failure

Real life is a bitch…that you have to make your best friend

I walked that stage and had it all figured out. I booked a one-way flight to the Concrete Jungle, crashed on my brother’s couch, ate dollar slices and back-alley dumplings for sustenance, and interviewed as if my life depended on it. Boom. Landed my first job at a small advertising agency. I’ve done it. That life I had imagined was all unfolding as perfectly as I had planned. I picked up corporate lingo and email best practices like a chameleon in a suit. I got promoted after only one year on the job. I found a dream-ish apartment with one of my best friends. Things seemed to be progressing swimmingly. Yet, I wasn’t fulfilled for some reason. I looked around and realized that all of these accomplishments were perfect on paper, but kept wondering why I wasn’t skipping around gleefully like Kermit taking Manhattan. Then it all hit me — where do I go from here? What is the next project I can kill? When is my next promotion? It took me a while to realize that those were the wrong questions; as were the ones before.

My “come to Jesus moment” has arrived

I’m a big believer that any experience, good or bad, can be a learning moment if you allow it. The only problem is that it is hard to swallow when you’re in the middle of a bad experience. I was stuck in a job that I pretty much hated, fell into typical New York activities that I really didn’t care for, dated people who I had almost no real connection to, and I lived out a facade of my life through my various social media pages as if I were especially #blessed.

April 2015, it all came crashing down. I had turned 25 just a few months before and I began to worry I’d get stuck in a career and lifestyle that I truly did not enjoy or find satisfying. I became physically ill for weeks due to the combination of work stress and pressure of life expectations. What was I doing wrong? I realized, I had to make a drastic change. All of the things below are real things I did or occurred over the next few months.

  1. I cut out coffee, alcohol, and weed cold-turkey, all at the same time
  2. I interviewed for new jobs that were the basically the same old thing
  3. I traveled to the Pacific Northwest for some soul searching and shacked with a Tinder lover whom I met only once a few weeks prior
  4. I soberly (except a quick relapse of legal weed) partied at Sasquatch Music Festival outside of Seattle
  5. I quit my job for another job doing the same bullshit, but for more money
  6. I then quit that job within a year for a new job that would set my career on a path that finally felt right
  7. I became a member at a gun range (even though I would never persoanlly own a gun)
  8. I regularly (and happily) bailed on plans that I knew I wouldn’t enjoy
  9. I put my phone on airplane mode anytime I was with a good friend
  10. I had a quarter-life crisis

Sure, I realize that most of the items on that list may not be the most traumatic events in the typical “first-world-problems” lifestyle that stem from white privilege and a comfortable upbringing. But for me, these were monumental occurrences in a generally well-structured life. I recognize and fully appreciate that I even have the opportunity to experience a quarter-life crisis. That is the boat I am in and I can’t apologize for my predicament.

Awareness and clarity

It took a 25 years for me to pivot my thought process and one year of lots of crazy shit for me to have an awakening. I had to start asking the questions that mattered. Those are slightly different for everyone, but the big question was “What do I value in life and how do I attain that?” It’s all in the details, and those details allowed me to become hyper self-aware and provided me with a clarity on how I want to live my life.

With my new priorities, came my own so-called 15 Pillars of Value for the Modern Urban Guy:

  • I value trees and nature
  • I appreciate conversations with friends and strangers more than superficial drunk shenanigans
  • My side-hustles should be just as important as my career
  • Lounging and binge-watching Netflix might be more what I need on a Saturday than a night out on the town and that is perfectly fine
  • Off-kilter experiences can come in small doses; I shouldn’t pressure myself to match the Big City lifestyle that my friends portray on Instagram
  • Volunteering my time can be more satisfying than getting brunch every Sunday (but I do love me some brunch ❤)
  • I need to find self-happiness before I can rely on happiness from anyone else
  • My body is undoubtedly tied to my well-being and should be cared for
  • Patience and positivity are the hardest things to strengthen
  • Always be nice
  • Travel more than I think I should
  • Call mom way more than I think I should
  • Follow my gut
  • Be aware of my flaws and strengths and find solidarity in them
  • Question constantly

I have never been more aware of who I am, what I value in life, and what I need to do to get there. Now begins the journey to that ideal, that is, until the next crisis opens the door to new questions and a refined sense of clarity.

David Argov is a 25-year-old advertising account strategist who dabbles in just about everything. Meander his web-presence here.