5 ideas to get you through a quarter-life crisis
Since I’m still 25 for at least a month and we just rolled into 2016 this seemed like the perfect timing for me to write some of my thoughts down. And what better way to do it than to start blogging. New year’s resolutions aside, blogging is something I’ve been thinking about doing for a long time now so why the hell not.
You might have snickered when reading ‘quarter-life crisis’ in the title of this post and I admit, I would have too a few months ago. I used to think having a life crisis / burnout / whatever you want to call it was something you could totally control and get over by yourself. Letting your progress in life stagnate because you aren’t feeling well seemed weak to me. Until I got to experience it myself… About half a year ago the girl who I thought was going to be my soulmate for life walked out on me, nothing I could do about it, her mind was made up (or at least about the fact that she was leaving me) and all of a sudden that was it. I lost a part of myself when she left and it still hurts today and will keep on hurting for some time I’m afraid. At the same time I have been working as a freelance graphic designer / illustrator for 2 years now and things are starting to grow. I have got more customers, but also more costs and paperwork. I love love love what I do, but I have a hard time finding a balance between working on my own projects and delivering on time to my clients. A few months after my breakup I traveled solo for a month, which was one of the best things I did so far (on which I should really write a blogpost as well) and now the travel bug has bitten me and I want to do it more! But I also want to spend more time with friends, put more effort into the several organisations I’m involved with, reach more personal and professional goals and do it all as fast as possible. Because time is money and everybody else seems to be doing far better than me (or not?).
Adding this all up, you can see where I’m going with my story about my quarter-life crisis. It’s all been a bit too much lately, too much stuff happening, too many thoughts racing through my mind, not enough hours in a day to get stuff done (or was I procrastinating and overthinking too much?) and not enough hours in a night to get some decent rest. I needed change, obviously, and I’m working on it right now. This blogpost is one of the many anchor points I’m setting myself to fall back on when things get overwhelming. The 5 mantras I’ve written below are only my point of view, some of which I have been living by longer than today, others I only recently discovered. Anyway, let’s get this show on the road:
1. Done is (often) better than perfect.
Procrastination sucks! And yes, I am an expert at it. I can have the wildest ideas for personal or professional projects and the minute I want to start the thoughts in my head start making a mess so big it ends up clogging my entire thought process and I get stuck. Admitting I am a procrastinator is one thing, working on it is something totally different. But I’m working on it and that’s what’s important! Having good friends helps as well, as proven by a collaborative project I recently finished with 2 friends; we made a 2016 calendar in only a few weeks and I am so happy that we got it finished!
Often the feeling of wanting to deliver a project absolutely perfect, down to every detail, is so overwhelming I get caught up along the process. That’s why I thinks it’s better to finish things instead of tinkering endlessly on small and probably insignificant details. If you’re an artist like me, stop worrying about getting the right artwork out, just create! And if you create enough stuff you will eventually evolve and the ‘perfect’ work will emerge by itself. Stop chasing the ideal output and keep on layering brick by brick of work and you’ll get there. And while others are thinking and planning you can get a head start by just doing it!
2. Live for moments you can’t put into words.
When I was traveling by myself I visited the Cliffs of Moher on the west coast of Ireland. Sitting there with my feet dangling over the edge, some 200+ metres above the ocean felt just so amazing. Pictures and videos hardly do it justice and even describing the experience to someone else often leaves me hanging at making weird, amazed sounds. But it still is one of the most vivid memories I have of that trip.
I’m not telling you to go traveling and sit on some cliff (although I can totally recommend that), these kind of moments can happen anywhere and anytime. It can be a night with friends, a deep conversation, a feeling of accomplishment when you finish a project or one of sheer joy when you give someone a gift. I guess what I’m trying to say is to enjoy life as much as possible. To take every opportunity you can to make the best out of it and create memories that you will cherish as long as possible.
3. Money is a tool, not a goal.
As an entrepreneur / freelancer you get confronted with money so often it gets boring. You have to keep track of your income and your expenses, write invoices and estimates, pay bills and fill out tax forms et cetera. And yes, it’s nice to buy a big screen to work on or being able to afford certain ‘luxury’ products as a company expense, but in the end the things you own don’t really matter. Technology gets outdated or broken, and just a lot of material things won’t be with you forever and definitely won’t give you any substantial happiness after the initial purchase. Focusing on what’s really important, your personal and professional goals and relationships in life for instance, will make you feel a lot more satisfied in the long run.
Let’s be real: You will need money to reach certain goals, and having sufficient funds will often make things easier. But being rich is not about having nice things, it’s about doing what you love everyday, making something of this short life on earth we each get that means something to you! And in the end your memories will consist of the experiences you had, not about the things you owned. So look at money as a tool to reach those experiences.
4. Consume less, create more
We all live in a consumerist world and it seems like it’s getting worse by the minute. Every company wants you to consume as much as possible, as fast as possible. Buy more stuff, click more links, watch more videos, ‘like’ more status updates, …
We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.
I am amazed and scared by the amount of times I check my Facebook timeline or Instagram feed to see what everyone else in the world is up to. And then I got jealous; at other artists for creating better stuff than me, at friends who seem to have a better time enjoying a holiday or at someone writing a better article on Medium. The thing is, if I used all of that time watching what other people do to create stuff of my own, I would have already achieved so much more by now. So stop refreshing those social feeds every half hour and go write your own blog post. Stop buying sh*t you don’t need and make something you can actually use and be proud of. Stop being envious of other people’s lives and create your own awesome memories. Stop watching youtube videos about working out and actually start working on your own body. Stop reading this blog post and go do something you actually want to do! (ok, maybe finish this first)
5. Stop giving a f*ck
This one is pretty straightforward, stop caring about what other people think of you or what you do! Too often we try to craft an image of ourselves that, in our head, can please as many people as possible. But where’s the use in that? You only live your own life, no need to try and live someone else’s. Don’t be afraid of what people might say about your looks, your work, your ideas or your goals. Listen only to those with an honest, helpful opinion and ignore the ones who just criticise out of envy or bad attitude.
You will never be able to please everybody, but when you are true to yourself and stand behind your ideals the people who actually matter will emerge and support you.
I think I could have listed many more points but I feel these 5 are pretty important in my life right now. I have already been working on some of them, but my goal for this year is to follow my own advice and use these 5 “mantras” as a guideline for the next weeks / months / years. :)
Writing this was the first big step in a journey to self appreciation and exploration I’m currently undertaking. I hope to keep blogging, because it’s something I like to do apparently. Thanks for reading this!
If you liked this post (or hated it) or have some remarks please let me know in the comments.