This week marks my 25th birthday. I will have officially been on this earth for a quarter of a century. Cue the quarter life crisis right about… NOW!
According to Urban Dictionary (give me a break, I’m not that old yet that I need to use a real dictionary), a quarter life crisis for most people will be around twenty five years of age as this tends to be when your way of thinking starts to change beyond that of a high school or college student. Most people realise they’ve reached this age if they refer to teens as “kids”. My quarter life crisis started the moment when I met a younger guy and immediately referred to him as “Seuntjie.”
With that definition, along with the “Everything is downhill from here” comments and “Your pool of men is getting smaller” statements haunting me throughout the entire week, the full-blown quarter life crisis hit me. Solidly. So much so that I went out partying with a bunch of 19 year olds in a nightclub. Sad to say, I had a hangover for two days and when someone calls you “Tannie” it doesn’t really stop the haunting of this quarter life crisis.
If that wasn’t enough for a full-out, lying-in-front-of-the-fridge, crying-into-your-ice cream anxiety attack, I turned to the very trustworthy Mr. Google for some advice. There are hundreds of lists online about what you should have accomplished by 25, or what bad habits you should have quit by 25, or what your life needs to look like by 25.
Well I call bullshit! Who even still trusts Mr. Google? I mean I’ve been diagnosed with cancer like 25 times in this quarter of a century. At the end of the day, why do we care so much if someone remembers to water their plants or if they know how to poach an egg or if they save a certain percentage of their paycheck per year to buy a new sofa? Why are we so sure that our way is the right way for everyone?
What I’m trying to say is that I used to care a lot about checking all the boxes on all those lists, but I realised that none of that even matters. My own list is the only important checklist.
In this quarter life crisis we spend a lot of time wanting to be somewhere else. Some magical land where we have the perfect job, the perfect house, the perfect relationship, and not a care in the world. The trouble with this way of thinking is that we fail to remember the important lessons we learned upon turning 25.
So in this quarter life crisis of mine, I decided to choose to see the perfection in my current circumstances. Yes, I’m not exactly where I want to be, but I’m precisely where I need to be.
Extinguishing the love candle
At this stage in my life, some of my friends are planning their love story and others are living it. When it comes to love and relationships, I’m celebrating my single status. It’s been a year since I last fell in love and now I completely appreciate being on my own. Being 25 and single doesn’t mean you are a failure in the love compartment, or that you will die as an old cat lady. It just means that you need a bit more time for yourself. The biggest lesson I learned while blowing out this candle is that this is the only time you can be selfish with yourself.
I get to meet new people. I get to go out there and experience life without needing to consult anyone. It’s important to get to know yourself before someone steps in. That’s an experience in itself, so get out there – the whole world is waiting for you.
My single status means that I can invest in myself. I can work on the perfect version I envision for myself, and not what someone else wants me to be. And let’s face it, when the perfect guy comes around, he will be appreciative of that, because it means that we can grow together.
Another important thing that I have realised is that just because it’s not your wedding doesn’t mean that you can’t celebrate love. It’s a vastly different kind of fulfilment when you celebrate the love of others. Table 19 can be full of love as well, you just have to choose to court it.
Making a wish on work
The people around me are all in different phases of their lives, some still busy studying, some traveling and others still deciding what their career will be. I’m fortunate enough to know exactly where my career path is headed and working towards a future that fills me where the love compartment fails.
I have learned that your career is the only thing that won’t disappoint you, because you are creating it yourself. The time to hussle started when I moved to Stellenbosch and started working at Lumico. Everyday gave me the opportunity to learn, grow and follow my own path, leading me to where I am today.
When it comes to building a career in your 20s, the greatest variable in life is time. That’s why this is the perfect time to hustle, while you are still young. I realised that the only way for me to move forward was to use every second to do something that would benefit me in the future.
As I hustle through my career path I’ve come to realise that failure, criticism and mentors are the most important words that you need in your vocabulary. This is the time to learn from your failure, use the critique you get and soak up everything you can learn from the people that have played the game for longer than you have. Because before you know it, there will be a new inexperienced just-out-of-varsity person that will need you to help them hustle.
Popping the champagne with friends and family
I don’t like leaving people behind. I hoard people, memories and friendships in my heart and in my mind, forever. I just can’t seem to Marie Kondo these people out of my journey. But one thing I always try to keep in mind is that some people are only a chapter in your story and not the whole book.
Now, as I experience my quarter life crisis, I quickly realise what it means to say goodbye to certain people. It means I can move towards people that challenge me to be the best version of myself, towards people who breathe some fresh air into my life and people that are in the same phase of their lives as I am.
It’s okay if you feel disconnected from certain people. It doesn’t mean that they don’t mean anything anymore. It just means that they have played their part, you have learned what you had to from that friendship, and you played that part in someone else’s story.
From the day we were born until now, we have met a lot of people. It’s not possible to keep everyone; the chemistry can fade away or you might outgrow each other. That’s okay. Keep the real ones for life and you will have some amazing friendships—even if you can count the number of your genuine friends on only one hand.
Be thankful for past relationships and friendships, they have moulded you into the person you are today. Pack them up and let new people mould you even further.
So being in this quarter life crisis doesn’t mean that your life, as you know it, is over. You’ve built up the foundation. Now you can build the walls and paint it with the colours that make your life brighter. Appreciate that you don’t have to show your ID at a nightclub so often anymore, start using anti-aging cream and forget about the number. I’ve decided that 25 looks good on me, and it can look good on you! You just have to choose it.
I decided to take charge of my quarter life crisis by making my own list of achievements now that I’m heading into a new phase. This list started with many points and much rambling, but it came down to one simple, yet powerful realisation.
You are exactly where you need to be in life.