About Me, Single Life

Q is for Quarterlife

(Elysa at GenPink asked me to contribute to her series “The ABCs of Being a Twenty-Something.” I was assigned the letter Q for Quarterlife Crisis. Click over to the original post at GenPink and read the nice things Elysa had to say.)

When I started writing this blog over five years ago at the age of 22, I was in the midst of a full-blown quarterlife crisis. I was taking college classes but didn’t know what I wanted to do; I was working in a call center (a job I hated, but I made decent money); I was just beginning to feel normal again after having major surgery on my back to correct scoliosis (a procedure that left me with permanent steel rods attached to my spine); and to top it off — due to all the stress, the worry, and my feeling of powerlessness — I lost thirty pounds due to restricting my food intake.

That’s the state I was in when I started blogging. I was officially a mess.

The reason I started writing online was because I decided to take a semester off from college. I was leaving my home in Virginia to spend a few months with my aunt and uncle in southern California, and I wanted a way for family and friends to easily keep up with what I was doing while I was gone.

I was granted a leave of absence from my job, I drove cross-country by myself, and I stayed in California long enough to get my head together — at least “together” enough to feel ready to go back to Virginia and resume college classes the next semester. I completed my last two years of school, and I spent one of those four semesters in a study-abroad program in Amsterdam.

My quarterlife crisis? It was all about searching. I spent many hours on the internet, looking at career options, reading about people who had made big, life-changing decisions. I wanted to know how and why they ended up where they did.

I didn’t know WHERE I wanted to be, or WHO I wanted to be. I thought if I discovered the answer to at least one of those questions (preferably both), I’d be well on my way to being happy. That’s what I would say to myself, and to other people, all the time: “I just want to be happy. I’ll move wherever I need to move, I’ll do whatever I need to do, as long as I’m happy.”

Throughout my mid-twenties, I remained in crisis mode — just not to same extent. I regained some of the weight I’d lost. I returned to California after I graduated from college and ended up staying for a year. Then I moved to the metropolitan DC area in the fall of 2006, which is where I am today.

Last summer, not long after my 27th birthday, I said I had survived my quarterlife crisis. What had changed? How did I reach that conclusion? It’s because — although I still don’t know what I want to do with my life — I’ve reached a level of acceptance. My job isn’t perfect, but I work for a nonprofit that has a great mission, and with co-workers who believe in making a difference. I don’t live in a fancy house, but I do live in a safe, fun area, with a roommate that I like. I’m no longer stick-thin, but now I work out on a regular basis and I’m more comfortable with my body than I’ve ever been in my life.

Having accepted my life doesn’t mean I’m 100% content with where I am, but that’s okay. I’m growing, I’m adapting, I’m changing, and I’m keeping my eyes (and options) open. In the meantime, I’m not settling. I’m living.

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