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Once Upon a Quarter-Life

Shortly before my birthday every year, I remember my two frustrations and declare them out loud, as if the reality of hearing them will motivate me:

1. Wow, I am X years old this year, and I have yet to lose Y+5 pounds! Now, do I really want to be X years old and still complaining about my weight?
2. I am X years old and still unpublished. Boo. I want to sign my name inside books.

This year, upon the quarter-life crisis, these two thoughts inevitably resurfaced sooner rather than later. However, a bunch of other thoughts joined them, and not all of them are negative.

First of all, on the quarter-life crisis kerfuffle, I think it was really helpful that I read an article a while back and it put things in perspective. It was also nice to know that a lot of people feel the same way I do. It is actually a good thing that many of us work in offices everyday but dream of volunteering in developing countries – it shows that we have options. The article argued that it is simply because we have so many options ahead of us at this age today than even 30 years ago, that we feel as conflicted as we do. Society no longer has expectations of us when we hit our twenties (i.e. marriage & children), and people tend to stay in school longer and advance further in their education. So all of a sudden, this has become a generation of people who have so many options on what to do next that nothing is super-satisfying, and nothing is the “right” choice anymore. I know I definitely feel that way. I have a good job that I’m interested in, I have interests and passions outside of work, I want to make a difference in people’s lives, and I want to go back to school at some point too. Trying to do all this in my twenties would be impossible, but at the same time I feel pulled in many directions because they’re all viable options. So while I’m following through on option A, I can’t help but wonder what’s like if I were doing option B, C, or D. Oh, and did I forget to plot out an option E? I know it’s silly to whine about having too many options, but still…

Another thing I did this year was I recounted backwards the first half of my 20’s. So far, so good, and it made me happier to realize that I have done a lot already and if things can only get better (which they definitely should under my watch, ha), then I can be much happier about this milestone birthday. Before I turned 20, I had only been to 6 countries, including the two I have lived in. I spent my 20th birthday away from home (the first time ever), and caught the travel bug in England. From there, I have added 9 more countries, lots more cities, and countless memories and experiences as a traveller. I have had some interesting work experience, too, and I finally got myself my own car and even a condo (who would’ve thought?!)…so really, so far, so good.

I really think that by thinking back to what I’ve already done was an even more motivating exercise to prompt me to want to do more with my life, instead of all the negative “lose more weight” stuff. It just makes me feel like I’ve got so much more room to make things better without trying too hard ;)

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