Social convention has been dictating you for a while now that quarter-life crisis is an impending stage of your life that you have to overcome. I prefer to call it quarter-life checkpoint though, sounds less frightening. This article is a self-reminder as well as a fair warning to you guys who have yet to reach this checkpoint.
As I came to my 25th this year several months ago, for the past 2 years I have been thinking what the hell is wrong with my life? Surely most people who already live an independent life will come to this, either you are a college graduate, high school, junior high, or anything, what matters is that you are an independent human being in your current age. You make money every month and you don’t ask to your parents anymore. This is the point where you take your life decisions all by yourself. Let’s take an example from mine.
For 22 years I have followed my social convention’s divinity to go to school, college, and have a dream job based on my degree. Now we know that not all people can make it to the last point. Some of them have abandoned school or college for many reasons; financial, adaptability, mental disorders, passion driven, etc. But thank god I made it past college, although I haven’t been through the dream job list but that’s okay, it’s called a checkpoint for a reason, it means that there’s a list with checked marks and unchecked marks. If the list has all of its items check marked already, it will be just simply called a list, not a check list since you don’t have anything to check anymore.
Back to my life, so I worked at a company in Jakarta, well renowned among its competitors and clients as well. I got paid well, normal 9-5 workload most of the time, friendly working environment and people, can manage to have savings even if it was not much. Overall I was happy. But here’s the tricky part, I started comparing my life with others, with my college friends, my high school friends, my cousins, people that have lower degree than me, people that have higher degrees than me, people that are pursuing higher degrees than me, almost anyone I met who has the same age as mine (or almost the same). At this point, I was dragged here and there, like a raft floating by the seas and the waves pulling in/pushing you away as it likes. Whenever one of my friends got a scholarship to study abroad, I want it. Whenever one of them has got a dream job, I started looking for one too. Whenever one of them got married, I tried to find someone for me (this is the thing I regret the most). Whenever I see someone has a startup, I started researching to be an entrepreneur and stuff. Now, do you see any crisis here? Exactly, the only crisis exists is your desire, to make it sound better, social convention calls it “passion”. Other than that your life is fine as long as you are paid by your boss and able to go through the month while you collect savings. Social convention calls this, “the comfort zone”. The convention is not entirely right or wrong. It simply adjusts to a perspective viewed by society, like the universal truth. So don’t waste your time and money trying to achieve this, there is no right or wrong when it comes to your life decisions, be it in the passion zone or the comfort zone, you are who you are.
The important thing to go through the quarter-life checkpoint is focus. If you want to be in your passion zone, be a rhino and crush all the boulders ahead of you. If you want to be in your comfort zone, be the freaking boulder that no rhino can pulverize. I am telling you that neither of them is easy, the only way to go through is to buck up, focus all your strength, time, and money there. Anyone can relate to being a rhino in the passion zone, I’m sure you’re already aware of the concept, “pursue your passion no matter what” and other bla, bla, blas. But being in a comfort zone is not an easy option either, not to mention your comfort zone is not actually comfortable. Imagine watching your office colleagues quit their job one by one, pursuing a greater career or degree or startups. Imagine most of your friends have got their scholarship to study abroad. But here you are, working the same thing everyday over and over again with standard wage feeling that your life is stuck. At least that’s what I felt in the past 2 years.
I wrestled with myself wanting to be a rhino like everybody else, the difference is, I wasn’t focusing in one thing at a time. I tried to get a scholarship, failed, tried to look for a better job, none accepted, tried to have a serious relationship, rejected countless times, tried to build a startup, too afraid with the risks and hardships. It all went for almost 2 years, no boulders I could crush. Eventually, some times later, some boulders started to crack, or I thought they did.
By that time I managed to have some kind of relationship with someone, and in a while, I passed a job interview at a great foreign company to work in Kalimantan with fantastic salary, but very far away from home which I don’t really like. After the interviews, there was still a medical check-up procedure. But in the middle of the excitement that my life has finally turned around, I became ignorant and quit my current job, before the medical check-up results came. That should be the first clue of how an unfocused will can be catastrophic. I was unemployed for a few weeks, waiting for the results, and it made me act needy toward my partner since I didn’t have anything to do. Days later, the company I got interviewed to called, and the results came out bad. Like real bad. He said that I didn’t pass the test, and that I have some kind of hepatitis B virus inside my body. I didn’t tell my partner yet about the virus, I simply told her I didn’t pass the job test requirements. We had lunch that day, she asked for my drink, I gave her. But it really bothered me so in the end I told her about the virus. Pretty sure she was shocked because she drank from my glass. I googled earlier that the virus don’t contaminate or spread through foods and drinks. But after that we have never meet again. I don’t know what went wrong, the neediness or the virus. You know, women, right?
So just like that, poof…! Life was ruined. I was unemployed, lost my partner, having a deadly virus inside me, and got back home to my parents in shame. I spent my two years worth of savings in travels from Bandung-Jakarta for job interviews, vacations, and other impulsive needs with the justification in my mind that “I am f***ing depressed and need to buy things that can relieve me”. For you guys I am telling you, never to do this! This doesn’t solve anything at all. All of my savings gone in just three months. I also went to a clinic and a lab to have someone test me for the hep B virus. Shockingly, both tests came out negative, meaning I don’t have the virus. This is relieving as well as frustrating, but mostly relieving. I tried telling my ex-partner about this but meh, nothing good happened between us.
In the middle of my unemployed months, there was a job expo at my campus. I looked up the list for companies I might be interested with and there it was, the company I got rejected from appeared as one of the tenant there. I went to the expo and approached the person I had interview with. He still recognized me. I asked about the different results (I e-mailed them my independent test results). Ideally I would have said, “Dude, what the hell!?” but no that didn’t happen. Instead we had a nice chit-chat for a few minutes, he said that he doesn’t know how it might have happened. Could be a swapped results between the patients (there were a lot of people having medical check-up that day), could be a false positive, nevertheless if it comes to MCU results, he couldn’t do much about it. We continued talking about something else, but in the end he asked me, “Do you still want the job? If you want we can conduct a re-test on you.” But I said no. Once again I lost focus of my will since working too far away from home is not my preference and at that time I had been staying at home with my parents for a while and I feel comfortable with it, what a big baby. However, I missed my chance again.
At the fourth month I got a job back in Jakarta, I had to borrow money from my friends as a starting fund before my first wage. And after that life goes on. I work in a chemical distributor company right now and guess what, I passed the MCU test, which also conducts a hep B virus test. Not a really turning point of life yet but I am trying to focus on just one thing at a time right now.
So that was it, but let’s take a step back on the story and imagine what if I focused on just one thing at that time, either for the scholarship, the relationship, the career, or startup. Probably today I would’ve still be working at my current company, still have my two years worth of savings or even more. Or maybe I would’ve agreed to take the re-test and joined the foreign company. Or maybe I would’ve got a scholarship to study abroad, I only have tried once to one institution, there are many other institutions that offer scholarships, I haven’t tried them all, again, it needs focused will. If I were a focused rhino back then, I’m pretty sure at least one of the boulders have already crumbled to dust by now. And if I were the boulder, I’d still be standing and just got tougher every time a rhino hits me. All of those might happen if I focused on just one thing at a time.
So choose one now. But remember this, whichever you choose, there will always be a time that you say to yourself, “I’m not meant to do this, I have to find my passion or other stuffs that can make me feel better.” If you already told yourself this, consider me as your future self, I’m telling you to stop this bullsh*t you’re talking about right now and continue doing whatever you chose, don’t ever, ever, ever stop until you have reached your target!