How I got my life together after my quarter life crisis

A few months ago I hit rock bottom and had what I consider to be a quarter life crisis (I had previously written about this on my blog – but those posts have since been hidden for privacy) and although I haven’t quite mastered my life, I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be as a mid-twentysomething. Think you can’t do it too?

Yes. You. Can.

I have always experienced a cycle of falling apart and coming together, and after my big meltdown I finally feel like I got something right – I slowed down and sorted out the chaos and tried to tame the beast in a few emotional stages.

Step One: fall apart.

Yes, this is the worst of it. You have to let yourself experience the pain and the panic in order to fully understand it. For me it was a poisonous cocktail of childhood trauma, an undiagnosed mental illness and a terrible breakup.

As my favorite band Fall Out Boy once said – “Sometimes before it gets better the darkness gets bigger and the person that you’d take a bullet for is behind the trigger”. So let yourself fall apart, let yourself hurt, let yourself crash and fucking burn.

I want to add here that by saying “fall apart” it may seem like I’m encouraging reckless behavior – I am in no way encouraging someone to ruin their own lives and that I do not condone self-destructive or self-harming behaviors. If you feel you are a danger to yourself or others seek professional help immediately

Step Two: examine the rubble.

Once the dust has settled look around. Take a mental inventory of your life. What’s still standing? Who are your real people? What do you have left emotionally? Do you have a job or income still?

Got a list? Good – let’s build on it.

Step Three: take a breath, make a plan.

Seeing how much your life has fallen apart can be overwhelming and cause you a lot of anxiety – you might feel like you’re being pulled in a million directions and need to fix everything you shattered ASAP. I want you to know that this is okay and completely rational and normal to feel. The best way to combat this is to take a deep breath and evaluate what needs your attention. First and foremost – it needs to be you. Your health, your safety, and emotional well-being – all number one no matter what.

If you are safe and feel ready – make a list of things that need attention. Did you have to take time off? Do you need to reconcile with an employer or friends and family? Did you get yourself into any debt or trouble? Do you need to create a continuous care plan (therapy, doctors’ appointments etc.)? I would suggest that your priorities be (in order of importance): you, your finances and living situation/stability, and then rebuilding or building relationships (if any of these are applicable to your post-crisis situation).

Step Four: one step at time.

Have your list but still feel crappy? I’m sure you are. Having a quarter life crisis isn’t a thing that you get over in a weekend of sulking – this shit is long-term. If you think that you can just turn your life around in a few days you’re either not actually having a quarter life crisis or you’re not looking at the situation rationally and you need some perspective.

Take things one day at a time. Start with the first thing on your list and try to do one thing a day that move you towards that goal. For me it was something as simple as getting out of bed and showering. If you’re finding yourself struggling too much for more than one task a day, then make it every other day. As long as you’re taking care of yourself (eating, drinking water, going to the bathroom), then you can take however long you need to accomplish your goals.

Once you find yourself meeting your first goal with ease, add another, and another, and another… over time you will find these additions have a snowball effect and before you know it you’re rolling down the hill to success.

Step Five: ask for help.

I know that I’m writing this and you’re thinking “bitch, if it were that easy don’t you think I’d be doing it?” and the answer is no – I do not think it’s “that easy”. To get it together after falling apart takes a strength that even Hercules couldn’t comprehend. That’s why it’s imperative that you ask for help. Make sure to utilize those things and people that were there for you after you fell apart. Seek professional help, make a weekly date with a friend or family member you trust, seek support online – open yourself up for assistance and don’t be ashamed to ask for it.

The other reason that it’s SO IMPORTANT to ask for help is that people are so fucking wise – sometimes you need to talk to someone who can put your life into perspective. I’m not saying you need someone to say “oh, you haven’t showered today? Boo-hoo some people in Africa don’t even have water”. If someone says something like that to you drop their asses immediately because they are only invalidating how you feel and how you feel is very real. What I’m saying is sometimes you need someone to call you out on your shit while also validating that it’s still shit. I think a turning point for me was when someone on Twitter DM’ed me and politely told me that I needed to stop relating everything back to me and my situation, and that although it hurt and it sucked to going through what I was going through, I needed to realize that other people still had feelings and that by being so self-absorbed I failed to recognize when I was being offensive.

So yes, you’re going to need help. Sorry that I have to be the one to tell you that you’re probably not going to be able to hack it on your own.

It’s hard to sit here and write this and to not think that I’m being patronizing. Nothing is worse than reading some self-help think piece written by someone you don’t think gets it – but I assure you, I get it. Every situation is different, so do I think that we all can just magically get our shit together because I decided to write about my experience? Hell no! But I do want you to know that you are not alone. It may seem like the end of the world, it might hurt like hell, and it might be the worst thing that’s ever happened to you, but I want you to remember that falling apart only gives you the opportunity to put yourself together better than you were before.

Nobody Likes You When You’re 23.

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It’s true, nobody actually likes you when you’re 23. Here’s a list of uncomfortable things I’ve learned in 1 month of being 23.

  1. You’re too “graduated” for your college friends. Sure it’s great to hang out every once in a while, go out for drinks or run into them at the bar on the weekends, but for the most part, their lives revolve around school, school friends and campus life. Nothing that you’re really welcome to unless it’s an Alumni function. Not to say that you don’t love all your college friends dearly, you just don’t want to be that person that people question if you graduated or not.
  2. You’re not “career” enough for your older friends. By now, most of the older people you know are either in grad school, living the “college friend” life still, or they’re working full time far away from you. I, personally, work 3-11pm full time, which puts a damper on all social life except awkward lunch dates and drinking on a nightly basis. Ain’t nobody with a 9-5 got time for that.. My job allows me to live a more sideways lifestyle than my older friends, which makes me a little less sophisticated, and a lot more intoxicated.
  3. Single at 23 is just awkward. Dating kinda falls between the two categories as well. You don’t want to date an undergrad whose life revolves around school, but you don’t really have the time to date someone who’s career like your older friends. Plus, when you meet someone, you can never tell where they fall on that scale because once you turn 21, everyone looks the same until 30 anymore. There’s literally nowhere to meet someone of quality. Online dating is just awkward, your friends that are in relationships are starting to move on from your lifestyle so there goes your wing-men on Friday nights and meeting people at bars is always tricky because you can never trust that it’s gonna last more than a night. So then you end up getting those “what-if” feelings about exes and that’s ALWAYS bad news.
  4. No one will hire you. You’re in that stage of “cool, you have a degree but you don’t have any experience that counts because it was all part time while you were in school”. So you’re basically minimally qualified for most jobs you apply for, but not the best candidate because you don’t have any post-grad experience. HOW CAN I GET EXPERIENCE IF YOU WON’T GIVE ME A JOB.
  5. Your parents love you, but they are starting to get tired of your shit. I love my parents to death and I know that even though I am working full time and should have my shit together, they’re still here for me when I don’t, however, at the ripe age of 23 and working full time, I’m pretty sure they’re both thinking “isn’t it time you fix your own life problems?”
  6. Your life revolves around answering BuzzFeed quizzes, Netflix and applying for jobs. Self explanatory. Currently on season 6 of Criminal Minds and according to BuzzFeed, I’m super sassy, not basic at all and I should have majored in Philosophy. Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop.
  7. Your style is between poor college kid and “hire me, I’m a professional!” Ditch the club clothes. You’ve got to spend what little money you have to buy cheap dress clothes so you can pretend you know what you’re doing with your life, but when you’re not pretending, you’re rocking those sweats and that college t-shirt that is so comfortable you’d cry if you lost it. Sweatpants are the comfort blankie of adulthood.

Young Adult novels and lifetime movies didn’t prepare me for this.

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Make It To Me

Love is such a beautiful thing. There’s really nothing like it. No high or drug (except apparently cocaine according to modern science) that can compare to it. It’s such a rush to look at some and think “wow… I am so lucky”.

I remember what it’s like to be in love. To have that time where you thought you had everything figured out and even if you didn’t, it was okay because they were there. It’s safe being in love, it’s warm and comfortable and feels like a dream, but it’s also the most dangerous thing. Love makes us do the craziest stuff. It can make the most sane person want to be committed and the nicest person mean.

So why do I crave something that is so terrifying?

I believe that eventually I’ll find what I’m looking for, it just won’t happen right now. It especially won’t happen in this town. It’s filled with nothing but exes, immature strangers that are only concerned with getting the hottest piece of ass in the bar and people who have no appreciation for me as a person. Looking for love, real love, in a college town is near to impossible… especially for someone who’s on their way out.

Being alone isn’t intolerable. To be honest, I’m doing just fine. I don’t cry myself to sleep at night cuddling my pillow because I want a boyfriend… that’s not me. It’s not hard for me to sit down at a restaurant by myself because all of my friends are busy, it’s not hard for me to move my own furniture or make decisions on what to buy or eat. Hell, I even enjoy it sometimes. It’s nice to just have “me space” and time to myself to reflect and unwind without the concern for other people.. but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want someone to love.

I believe that I’m ready for it. I’m finally getting myself into a place of happiness and fulfillment and I know I don’t NEED someone, I just want someone. I miss having that person around to look at and think about how lucky I am, and knowing that when they look at me, they’re thinking the same thing. I miss having those minor heated discussions on stupid things like which restaurant we’re going to dinner at or which movie we’re going to go see. I miss having someone look at me in my true form, silly me that sings around the house and is messy and cries when she’s PMS’ing over something cute my cats do, and smiles because they think it’s funny.

I miss that feeling of being needed and wanted. I find myself coming back to so many memories from times that I took love for granted and I kick myself. I wasn’t ready for love. Hell, until I ruined and gave up on love entirely, I wasn’t ready to rebuild and re-evaluate the idea of what it means to truly love and be loved by someone. I took so many things for granted before, always looking for the next best thing and for that I’ve learned to look at what I’ve got with stationary vision. I’ve been taken advantage of too… I’ve given love to those that didn’t deserve it. I’ve had my kindness mistaken for weakness and for that I’ve learned what to expect from both myself and from others in a good, healthy relationship.

I know that this seems like a silly blog post, it probably is, but I guess the point that I’m trying to make is that I’m ready for the next chapter of my life. I know that whoever is supposed to be my +1 is out there, and that I’m ready to meet them.

This song perfectly describes it…. please make it to me 🙂