My Quarter Life Crisis, Part One: Acknowledging My Unhappiness

When I graduated college, I thought I was going through the dreaded Quarter-Life Crisis. I’d graduated with a Liberal Arts and Human Services degree, but I did not yet have a job. Determined to find something, I knocked on several doors of opportunity. I applied to teaching programs and different residency programs where my role would “make a difference.” I started several applications to teach English overseas. I even talked to a Peace Corps representative to see if that was the path meant for me. But, like many, I ended up at home with my parents.

Eventually, things began to look up for me. That summer, I interviewed with several companies which finally lead to my first post-grad job. That fall I began what I thought would be my “career” with a good government agency. The benefits were as great as any person over 45 would tell you they’d be. I had every government holiday off and a healthy amount of sick and family leave available to my use. Not to mention, I finally had my own health insurance. (Side note: Within the first months I made appointments with so many doctors, just because I could. Don’t be like me.) I had additional life insurance, a retirement plan where I contributed the max that my employer would match, and other benefits whose purpose I still don’t quite understand. I felt like I was doing everything that I was supposed to do as an adult.

My first year at my job was great. I made friends with my coworkers. We had after work drinks. I was still in my training period and was succeeding at fast rate.

Nonetheless, things began to go downhill. About a year and half in, I felt the brute of my fast paced job. With my caseload increasing, I found it hard to stay ahead. During this time, I was also going through a difficult period with the people in my life. However, I was not able to escape what life was throwing at me and focus completely on my career. I had no passion for my work. I knew that I was doing good for the citizens of my state, but it was beginning to take a toll on me. My job in addition to life problems caused emotional and physical stress on me that I had never felt before. This would continue for another year.

This past year, I decided to make my life outside of work better. It was actually going pretty well. I had fallen for the one who is now my significant other. I traveled to several different places in the US. I used my vacation time because I deserved a break from my job. But then, those vacations came with a consequence—more to catch up with when I returned to work.  I also realized how unhappy I had become whenever I had to go back. And just when I didn’t think it could get any lower, I found out that my mother had become sick and would be going through several kinds of treatment. Like any loving daughter, I wanted to be there with her. I was thankful to have my job because they were flexible with what I was going through with my mother. They allowed me to take leave and make up time so that I could be with her. Yet, it still wasn’t enough to change how I felt sitting down in my cubicle every morning.

It is now November 2017. It has been Three years and three months since I began working at my job. I put in my letter of resignation on 11/13/2017. No I do not have a plan for what I will do. However, there are more things that I do know. I know one type of job that I do not want to have again. I know that I cannot stay in one place out of fear of the unknown. I know that I need to be happy to come in everyday. I know that I have saved up weeks worth of leave to last a while. I know that life challenges will pop up at anytime and there is no true way to be prepared. I know that I have a savings. I also know that will not last forever. I know that I am worthy of a career that does not drain me every day. I know that I am creative. I know that I am adaptable. I know that I will do amazing things.

As an advocate of self-love, I could no longer continue something that was detrimental to my mental health and what was encroaching on my physical health. With that in mind, I decided to take time to detox and make changes in my life. The end of the year is here and the new year is on its way. I will take this time to fast from several things and to be intentional with my journaling. I will be taking time to deliberately hone in on my passions and desired. I will strengthen my current skills while learning new ones.

I may not discover my passion in the next couple of months. I may not find my ideal job. But I would have taken a chance. I would have put myself and my happiness first. I value me more than a good paycheck.

“In dealing with those who are undergoing great suffering, if you feel ‘burnout’ setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself. The point is to have a long-term perspective.”

– Dalai Lama

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