One of the best things I ever did for myself was purposefully take time off dating to figure out what I really wanted and why.
I spent months reading about relationships, wondering what was possible. I knew I didn’t want companionship for the sake of companionship, anymore. I wanted something more, I just didn’t know what.
I immersed myself in stories of relationships that I liked. Fun, cute relationships. How they met, how they interacted, what they liked about each other, how they worked through challenges together. I observed how they talked about each other, how they approached life together. How they turned each other on, spurred each other on. How they treated the other as partners, rather than as need-fulfillers.
That purposeful time alone was invaluable.
About a year later, I met someone almost by accident, someone who called himself my “twin” before we’d even gone out on a date. My heart declared it an unmistakable victory.
While I was alone, I wished I could do the same for my relationship with money and jobs. I wanted to put myself in a bubble where I could contemplate money and work in a vacuum, without having to worry about rent or food, and exit with a significantly expanded sense of what is possible with regards to both. I couldn’t quite do that, so I took the journey gradually, replacing limiting money and work beliefs over the course of a few years.
About a month ago, I felt the call to take a big jump.
What work do I really want to be doing? How do I want to feel doing this work? What kind of environment do I want to be doing it in?
What is possible?
What could my life look like? What do I really want it to look like?
I want so much more out of work now. I finally feel ready to take a pause and explore, as I did with relationships.
This is going to be fun.
I know it is because I’ve been here before. I’ve learned to trust myself, trust my gut, trust the clarity I receive as I relax and listen.
“Here” to my younger, less trusting self would feel like a crisis – a “quarter life crisis,” to put a label on it.
The term, coined in 2001 by Alexandra Robbins and Abby Wilner, has no lack of articles online. Far and wide, almost every definition that I’ve read about the “quarter life crisis” sites young adult stress as the culprit. As a young person comes into adulthood, she questions her life and compares herself to others, wondering if she should be doing more with her life.
I have a slightly different definition.
The crisis arises not because of impending adulthood, per se; it arises when desires are stifled by limiting ideas of what one thinks is possible, eliciting anxiety and stagnation. While one part of you screams for change, another part tries to convince you to settle for less.
“I want this. I want this really badly. I don’t think I can get it,” soon becomes, “I don’t know what I want. AH!” as you’ve convinced yourself you can’t have what you really want, at least not right now.
Confusion and denial ensue.
Two paths appear: 1) to numb oneself and accept the “reality” of our limitations for an undetermined amount of time; 2) experience the continual build-up of desire, pushing against “I can’t have this” limiting beliefs, until something big cracks those beliefs.
Long-term build-up and extended numbing turn into (what feels like) a crisis. Comparison to others may inspire this, pressures to climb the corporate ladder and appease mom and dad may inspire this, conceptions of unbreakable walls may inspire this. None of this is bad, but it doesn’t have to be a crisis.
Challenge “I don’t think I can get it.” Replace it with gradual steps towards “how can I let myself gradually get to it?”
Get rid of “I have to live up to others’ expectations” with the ultimate question – what do I really want?
It may take time, but the journey towards what you want is always worth it.
Get ahead of the crisis – any identity crisis – and realize what you’re going through is normal. It’s shaping you into the next version of who you will become. It’s turning you into something more. You asking these questions, you answering these questions, that’s a “you” that is already more.
Wherever your questions lead you, bless them, thank them, love them. Let them take you down a new path, one where your desires roam free and limiting beliefs are farther and fewer in between (because you had the gall to question them).
Let them show you what your life could really look like.
Also by Amparo: Are You Giving Yourself Permission to Grow?
Why Being Selfish is Important for Spiritual Growth
Related: 20 Things I Wish I Knew in My Early 20s
30 Things You Need to Accept Before Turning 30
Photo: Carli Jean