I’m having my quarter life crisis. After spending the summer writing a novel, I’m now thrown back into the world of work and school (I’ve signed up for a course on mindfulness – more on that another time), and subsequently thinking about what I want to do when I grow up (hah).
I’m feeling torn about what direction I want my future will take – do I go into counseling, teaching, creative writing? Do I get my TEFL, travel the world and teach English? Do I work and focus on finishing my first novel? Or, the most appealing option: do I sell all my belongings and disappear across the world, only stopping in one place long enough to eat and take in the sights?
The problem is, I want to do all of these things. I was moaning to a friend about this recently, and she said something so simple that I felt like an idiot for ever complaining: “You’re young – you can do all of these things. You just have to prioritize what’s most important to you right now.”
She’s right, I am young. At 25, I’ve barely scraped the surface of what the world has to offer, despite me feeling like I’ve lived countless lives already – and I have, in a way. I’ve finished university, traveled, written a book, worked, loved, eaten weird food and swam in the ocean at sunset. I have lived in multitudes, though I know I still have a long way to go.
And, as a 25 year old woman residing in Canada, I’ve got a long life ahead of me. According to Stats Canada, my life expectancy is 83 years (as of 2017 – who knows, maybe in a few years I’ll have gained a few years more). This means that, if I live to this ripe old age, I still have 57 (ish) years remaining in my life. I can write novels, get Masters degrees, travel the world, open a coffee shop/bookstore hybrid, and even own a lavender farm, if I wish (and I do).
The problem is that I want to do all of these things right now – I don’t want to wait! But that’s a problem I’ve made for myself – a very privileged one, at that – and it’s up to me to recognize that, no, I can’t do everything at once, no matter how hard I try. In an age where we have everything at our fingertips, and so many options available to us (at least in the Western world), it’s challenging not to be overwhelmed by all the options.
And, as with everything from music to shoes to brands of cereal, we have too many options. We have access and opportunity that, a hundred years ago, would be unimaginable. And, as with multitasking, the draw of multiple options drags our attention in multiple directions – we may be able to do several things at once, but that doesn’t mean we’ll do them well.
I’m lucky to live in the age and part of the world where I have so many options, and lucky to even have a quarter life crisis. While I’m here in Canada moaning about whether I want to travel or pursue higher education or hide in the forest to write, there are women elsewhere in the world who aren’t allowed to attend any form of higher education, who struggle with poverty, who are, daily, at high risk of being raped or killed. I have clean water, a house to live in, and loving friends and family. What do I have to complain about?
Nothing, that’s what. I just needed to write this to get my thoughts out, and in order to make myself realize just how truly lucky I am. I still have no idea what I’ll do yet, but that doesn’t really matter, does it?