Warning! This is an extremely long post.
According to Merideth Goldstein of The Boston Globe, the quarter-life crisis occurs in one’s twenties, after entering the “real world”. Oftentimes, feelings of being “lost, scared, lonely or confused” about what steps to take to transition properly into adulthood are felt by the individual going through this crisis. (Wikipedia)
When I was working in the Business Process Outsourcing in the Philippines back on 2014, I was enjoying my job then but at one point, I started to think if it’s really the job where I want to settle and retire. I was 24 years old. I was always on night shift and I thought that I do not have a life anymore. I go to work at night time and during my rest days, I only stayed at home to catch up with the lack of sleep. What if I get married, have children, I don’t want to work on night shifts when I already have a family, I want a normal day job (all I ever really wanted is to have a family of my own, be a housewife, take care of my future husband and children) and I won’t be able to do that if I’m working on night shifts. I just want a simple life when I have my own family.
I tried to look for an office 9-5 job. I wanted a challenge, learn something new and somehow be promoted in the business industry. That’s when I decided to enter graduate school. I looked for several universities like De La Salle University-Taft (I even visited the campus to view it but I felt that it was not for me, it was so grand and posh). Instead, I chose University of Sto. Tomas (UST) – The Graduate School – because ever since college, I’ve always wanted to be a Thomasian. Being a probinsyana, my idealism of a college life has always been like in UST. But life has it’s own way of making things happen and I ended up studying in Chinese General Hospital College of Nursing (which I don’t regret, I wouldn’t be in London right now if I studied elsewhere). In studying nursing in Chinese Gen, I learned the value of studying hard to pass my exams, studying ever more after I have studied and studying the most after I had studied more and failed in the exam. I had spent sleepless night to review for my midterms, quizzes, moving exams, case presentation, etc. When everyone at home was already sleeping, I was still up and reading my ultra thick nursing books asking myself why am I doing this, I’m supposed to be enjoying my college life, this is not the college life that I was dreaming of when I was in high school in Nueva Ecija. And I have no choice but to go with the flow. Not knowing what the future is in store for me. Fast forward, 10 years after that, I didn’t know that all those hardwork will pay off. My siblings had seen my struggle to study, my parents did. I owe them a lot now that I am in London.
So going back in UST to study MBA (Masters in Business Administration), I was looking for inspiration and motivation to push me to finally enrol but I couldn’t find any, I was scared of the unknown. It took a while. I love reading magazines. It’s one of my sources of inspiration when I was a bit young. My older brother was a former layout artist of Enrich magazine and he brought home several copies of that magazine (thanks for that Kuya). The deciding factor that finally pushed me to enrol in The Graduate School was reading an article written by Amanda Balneg from Enrich magazine stating about how reading Paulo Coelho’s book “The Alchemist” had taught her to reach for her inner dreams. She stayed in her office job and every night after work, she goes to Instituto de Cervantes and studied Spanish language, applied for a scholarship in University of Salamanca in Spain and was granted the scholarship. That article inspired me and when I was randomly chatting with my teammate in Convergys, JJ, said that she had also read The Alchemist and she lent me the book. I was excited! Reading every pages of the book, I felt the lessons hit me hard and I read the book at the exact time I was looking for validation and a push to finally take a step towards achieving a change in my life. The Alchemist is about the story of a boy who left the town he grew up in to search for a treasure. And in searching for that treasure, he met a lot of people who had taught him the way of life, learned lessons and found true love along the way, reached for his destination not knowing that the treasure he was looking for was buried in his hometown.
After reading that book, I was so inspired and motivated and I finally decided to enroll in UST. I took the exam and paid my tuition fee from the money I saved every pay day at work. I had to choose 3 subjects, which I do not have an idea which from which. My gut feel says St. Thomas in Critical Thinking, Management of an Enterprise, and International Trade and Business. It was a very fun semester in UST The Graduate School. The only time in my life that I look forward to attending school. I had enjoyed every discussion and wrote on my notebook all the lessons in life that my professor was sharing which were making sense. And then in one of the subjects I had, I didn’t know that in International Trade and Business, my professor told us on the first day of class that we are going to Australia for the International trip. My parents paid for the 35% of the trip and I shouldered the rest from my savings. Though they did not require me to repay them, I returned the amount they gave for that trip when I was already here in the UK. Then the trip pushed through on the first week of March 2014. Because of that trip, Australia remained very close to my heart. I don’t know why but that country and continent became very special to me. Maybe because that’s my first trip outside the Philippines. Maybe because I was on a quarter-life crisis at that time and that trip gave me clarity on what I want to do in my life. Maybe because I thought that I may not be able to afford to go back in that beautiful country again in the future so might as well savor the moment. I was on a “turista” (tourist) mode at that time. I was in awe of that country.
It was an exposure trip. Travelling exposes a person to the beauty of the world. Travelling can be a gateway for a person to reach his goals. Australia was my first trip outside the Philippines. It was my first international trip. We went to Melbourne and Sydney. But what sets apart or changes everything was when I was in a river cruise in Circular Quay. It was a sunny day, I went up to the top part of the cruise to see the view of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. The view was magnificent! “Is it real? Am I really in Australia?”, I told myself. I only see this view in a post card, or in a travel book, or in the television. This has always been one of my dreams. I thought at that time, “Why did I give up on one of my dreams which is to experience living and working abroad, to be independent, to experience living on my own, to save for the future and in God’s time, marry a good man and have my own family.”
I couldn’t believe on the effect of that trip to myself. After I returned to the Philippines from that trip, I contemplated with the lessons and realizations I had when I was in Australia. I finally decided to go back to nursing. So I went to my Alma Mater, go to the Nursing Service Department, asked if there are nursing vacancies. Timing, at that time, there was a shortage of nurses in the hospital and there will be an orientation for the new batch of nurses to start the following week and they asked me if I would like to start on that date. I said, yeah, sure! I would love to. So I resigned in the BPO company and even if I do not want to, I did not continue my MBA and went back to concentrate to nursing. I was thinking, I can always go back and study MBA again in the future.
This was one of the events of my quarter-life crisis that led me to where I am now. There were still other things that happened in the early times like thinking of studying another degree, looking for universities (I even went to Bulacan State University (BSU) one time to inquire about getting a 2nd degree), applying for several jobs, opening my own business, etc., so many thoughts. It was mentally tiring. Because you will keep on thinking and figuring out what to do with your life. My quarter-life crisis lasted for almost 2 years. I know I’m over it when I figured out what to do in my life in terms of career, what path to take which is the road where I am right now. Now, I’m a little bit more relaxed about where life will take me.
Looking back, now I know why things happened. Why I had to stay up late studying my nursing books during college even if I don’t want to. It’s because that moment was the start of my preparation for this job in the UK. I couldn’t see myself doing any other jobs at this point in my life. Maybe, this is where I’m meant to be.
Until now, there are times when a thought of switching job or location has entered my mind multiple times, but I don’t want to think anymore. I just want to be in the present moment and be grateful of what I have. I wouldn’t be here if this is not for me. We are meant to be where we are right now.
To anyone who might stumble in this post thinking you are experiencing a quarter-life crisis, I know you feel lost in life not knowing where to go, I’ve been there. You will eventually figure it out. Don’t plan everything, let life unfolds on its own. You only need to do the first step towards your dreams or goals, and then God, the universe will take care of the rest.
Guys, what is your experience of a quarter-life crisis? Please share it in the comment section below.
***All pictures from the post were taken from google images.