I think I’m facing a quarter life crisis. Yes, the quarter life crisis is a rather pathetic stage to be at, one that is generally reserved for affluent adults who have options due to their socio-economic position in life. But still, I think I’m in the middle of mine.
When I moved to New York, I told myself that I was here as a transient, I’d be here for 2-5 years, tops. It’ll be 4 years next month, and there is no sign of leaving in my immediate future.
I had, on a whim, moved to New York as an alternative to grad school. Originally, it was my plan to study Politics of Developing Countries with an emphasis on post-colonial theory, that would eventually lead me to working with the IMF or the World Bank. Instead, faced with the debt that I would incur in grad school, I flipped out, and last minute decided to move to New York City and go to acting school where I could finally pursue this dream that I had held at an arms length for 15 years.
I remember hating New York for so long. I hated the fact that I had to deal with rude people on a daily basis, I couldn’t stand the oppressive rain, cold, and heat that seemed to flux every season, and I hated that my rent was nearly the same price as my parents mortgage. But still, New York had so much to offer. I loved that I could discover tons of new bands at several easily accessible venues, I loved that I could try Ethiopian, South African, Russian, and Polish food, and I loved that even though it was over priced, the vintage clothing selections were still a million times better than the options I had in Montana. I had a million and one interests, and every day was filled with a new and exciting possibility.
But that joy and those dreams didn’t last long. Not only had I made the decision to give up acting, but I stopped finding my daily joy. I stopped revealing in the ability to grab the free newspaper in the morning and do a crossword with a cup of coffee. I stopped finding joy in the ability to see a documentary I’d been hearing about in theaters, or going off to see amazing works of art just because I could and they were there.
Suddenly, I started becoming consumed with trying the newest, hippest restaurants, and looking a certain way, and even hanging out with a certain type of people. I stopped finding the joy in the little things and started finding joy in my paychecks, and somewhere along the way, I think I stopped liking myself.
Take a look at your life. What do you see yourself doing? I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I close my eyes and I see myself hiking, biking, rock climbing, surfing, traveling, gardening, laughing, playing music, writing, reading, cooking, baking, etc., but my real life looks a lot more like this: roll out of bed, work for several hours in front of a computer, go home, maybe work out, have a drink, sleep. Even my weekends have become a variation of the same thing.
It’s not that I’m unlucky or even boring. I’m beyond lucky to be in the fortunate position that I am in, and I am so, so appreciative of everything I’ve worked to achieve and the support I’ve gotten along the way, it’s just, what if it’s all wrong? What if I’m meant to still be living in a small mouse-infested apartment, counting ones after a bartending shift, and going on audition after audition during the day? What if I’m meant to be waking up in sunny California, or rainy Portland and baking delicious vegan goodies before I go for a hike? What if I am supposed to be working on grants to make the documentaries I dream about making? How do you know when your path is right?
Lately, I’ve been faced with this feeling like something just isn’t fitting. I’ve suddenly started feeling so uncool. Like all the interests I used to have just don’t make sense anymore, or that all the hobbies I used to have that made me part of who I was, just don’t fit with my life anymore.
I don’t know, maybe this is all just part of growing up. Maybe it’s time for the ridiculous dresses, and sequined tops to get put in storage and the pencil skirt and button up shirts to take their place. Maybe I’m supposed to be forgoing trivia night or a concert in favor of going to the gym and eating a healthy dinner. Maybe it’s time for me to keep my natural hair color instead of impulsively deciding to dye it or cut my bangs.
Or maybe not. Maybe there’s still part of that cool girl that I reveled in being still there. Maybe she’s hiding underneath the New York working, paycheck saving, young professional exterior. Maybe I can eschew my professional wardrobe in favor of black ankle boots and babydoll dresses. Or maybe I can finally pursue acting and stop being such a scaredy cat about it all. Maybe I can leave the city and settle somewhere where the air is clean and the rent is reasonable. Maybe I can finally become the vegan, earth mother that I secretly want to be.
Or maybe I’ll just ignore it and wait another year hoping that 27 will bring less of a feeling of “what if”.