How it All Began: The Onset of My “Quarter-Life Crisis”

The end of 2011 marked the beginning of a restlessness within me. I don’t quite know what prompted the feeling of being unsettled. Maybe it was the one-year mark at my job. Maybe it was the change of environment after switching apartments and moving in with new roommates. Maybe it was my birthday…I turned 23 and felt older. Regardless of the reason, somehow a life I had been pretty content with suddenly felt empty. I started questioning myself – where is my life going? What do I ultimately want to do career-wise? Where do I want to settle? Do I want to settle? Am I happy?

For the next few months, I willed my sentiments to go away. I scolded myself for being ungrateful…I had a well-paying, stable job in New York City. I had a great social life and always had plenty to do after work and on the weekends. After having spent the first seventeen years of my life in developing countries, I was finally settled in the US. There was no reason for me to feel restless.

When logical reasoning didn’t work, I packed my schedule with activities so that I didn’t have time to think or feel discontent. I threw myself headlong into my favorite escape – dance. Instead of taking the usual couple classes a week, I rushed from the office to the dance studio every single day for back-to-back classes, so I could lose myself in the music, the movement and the friends. I would come home every night past 12am and sink into bed, exhausted, until the alarm woke me up the next day and it was time to rinse and repeat.

 

For a while, this kept me satisfied. But still, occasionally, that anxiety would creep up…right before going to bed on Sunday night…as I waited in line to buy groceries at Trader Joes…while I pushed and shoved my way into the packed L train in the mornings. As much as I tried, I couldn’t shake it off.

Finally, I tried to better understand what I was going through. A little research quickly revealed that this feeling was common, not just among my friends, but among all twenty-something year olds. In fact, it even had a name – the quarter-life crisis – used to label that feeling of confusion, the lack of direction and the pressure to figure out what one wants to do for the rest of his life before it’s too late.

As I came to terms with my quarter-life crisis, I started contemplating possible solutions. Now that I had diagnosed the problem, what was the answer? What would help me better understand myself and my goals?

And so begins my journey to (as cliché as it sounds) “find myself”. On June 15th, I quit my corporate job. I spent the next month wrapping up, packing and saying goodbye to the many amazing friends I had been fortunate enough to meet during the last six years in the US. Then, four days ago, I boarded a flight to Lagos, Nigeria, where my parents currently reside, thereby closing the US chapter of my life, at least for now.

Photos from my last night in NYC

I have decided to devote the next year to myself – a year I want to spend traveling, exploring, learning and growing. Not everything I do during this year will aid in my career advancement, not everything will be practical, and much of it will certainly not help my bank balance. But if I don’t start checking things off my bucket list now, when I’m young and free of responsibilities, obligations and commitments….if I already resign myself to “being an adult” and don’t take time out to pursue those things that I am truly interested in and curious about….I know I will be left with regrets when I’m older.

The purpose of this blog is not just to keep a record of my thoughts and struggles as I embark on this year of adventure. It’s also my way of staying in touch with friends and family, so you know where I am, what I’m going through and whether or not I’m making any progress towards my goal of self-discovery.

I have no clue as to how this year is going to turn out, I don’t know if this is a good idea or a terrible mistake….but either way, welcome to my year off.

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. Kate says:

    I’m so happy for you and can’t wait to hear all about your adventures!

  2. Jia says:

    Devika! I loved reading this. I am so proud of you. And envious. What insight to have and act on the fact that you only live once and to make the most of it. You followed your gut and I know you will have an amazing year!!! Miss you.

  3. Thanks so much Kate and Jia! I wouldn’t have been able to take this step without all your love, support and encouragement. Missing you both very much 🙂

  4. Julia says:

    I loved this description… I can totally relate. Whether or not you discover ‘yourself,’ you will certainly discover more about the world around you and that is worthwhile in itself.

  5. Loacker says:

    Haha you quit your job on my birthday. I hereby take full credit for all your future happiness and adventures.

  6. My thoughts exactly Julia! So excited to hear about your travels too! If you start a blog, do it on wordpress so I can follow you 😉

  7. Hah! That’s why I had such a great time at your bday Loacker (Nadeem)…aside from celebrating the day you were born, I was celebrating the start of my travels 😉

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