#reflection: quarter-life crisis??

#reflection: quarter-life crisis??

I never thought I'd quit my job to "find myself". Sure, I'm far from a self-assured, ambitious individual, but pragmatism dictates my decisions. Nothing screams spontaneous like leaving a stable job without a concrete plan.

Except it wasn't a spontaneous decision. It was an idea that marinated in my mind for months, first as wisps that I'd laugh at and throw away, then tangles I cut down that grew new roots and stayed my feet. Someone told me one day, "you're doing a really good job" - the mass cleared a little. But it crept back.

You're probably wondering why I'd give up a job that doesn't take over my life, cut into my free time, and one where my colleagues and working environment are pretty much 10/10. Wasn't it comfortable?

From 10 to 7 it was. Once I'm home and basking in some quiet though, the doubt starts coming in: did you contribute today? what are you going to do next week? any next steps? what can you even do? are you really pulling your own weight? what will you take away from this job, and what will you leave behind?

I started dreading every morning, because it's another day without an answer. I'd end the day wondering what on earth I'm doing with myself. Which in turn made me feel terrible, because there are people out there living far more difficult lives than I am and still, I'm not satisfied.

If you asked me where these doubts came from, I'd say the past few years proved to me that being averagely good at most things mean nothing. It's not enough. Not when this new social chapter (generation?) demands self-promotion and ambition. It was all too easy for insecurities to flare up, the smothering whispers that followed me from childhood to the present, every time I compare myself to others and find myself lacking.

"What are you good at?"

I mean... I'm pretty good at anything when I put my mind to it.

"But is there any one thing you're really good at?"

I don't know.

"Okay, so what do you want to do in the future? What's your long-term goal?"

I don't know.

"Where do you see yourself in a few years? What's your passion? Where's your ambition?"

I don't know. I don't know. I don't know.

All I know is that sometimes, I feel small. Very very small. They're right to call it "small talk", because whenever someone asks me about my job, what do I do, what do I want to do - expecting an answer - I go home, sit in my chair, and spiral. 

--

After a long period of wallowing, I decided that something had to change. I have to stop waiting around, even just this once. 

I left my job with well wishes at my back and a three week travel in front of me. Probably the first time I've felt completely free - no obligations to see this person, that person; no copious studying for that scholarship; no hunting down a job to become an "adult"; no work the next day. I just had to be there for myself. 

Of course, reality is habitually lapping at the corners. But the first few days of my trip I had entirely to myself. I never realized how much of my time wasn't my own until then. 

I spent most of my days just walking. Even sat down along a promenade for hours at a time, idling. It was a little lonely. Mostly, it was peaceful. 

Travelling in solitude didn't miraculously produce clarity. Acceptance, perhaps. That it's okay to dedicate more time for myself, to take a break and put some distance between me and my uncertainties. I recognize that I'm extremely fortunate, that my parents can and are willing to support me. If you are given the opportunity, don't waste it. Take it. Use it. 

If your plans crumble, see it as a chance to try something you've never considered.

I've spent Christmas and the past few weeks reconnecting with family and friends. I started to get back into anime and k-pop (long-lived interests), rekindled my love for reading, and am tentatively writing again. Do I still have bouts of anxiety sometimes? Of course! It is hard not knowing how the coming year will shape up. But I don't regret taking a breather and re-orienting myself again. 

The thing with worries is that there will always be something you're uncertain about. Some of it comes from external pressures, some situational and some from yourself. If we were ostriches we could bury our heads in the sand and will them away. Unfortunately, we'd suffocate. 

I learnt this the first time, in my second year of university. In ignoring the signs that I wasn't okay, I wasn't happy, I was surviving but not quite living, I entered a state of listlessness. 'Everything' consisted of school - home - school - home - school - home, with a very occasional weekend hang out that doesn't equate to group study. 

This time around, I was much more aware of how I was sinking into a stagnant routine. Having experienced that once, I knew it was a place I didn't want to go back to. So I removed myself out of the situation (because I'm lucky to be able to) - and ta-dah

I'm happier now.

I don't know how 2018 will pan out, but I'm determined to approach it with an open mind. Who knows what will come! Okay, it's kinda terrifying. It's like you're on a road trip but half-way the map gets thrown out of the window and GPS doesn't work. It can also be exciting because imagine: How many turns can you take before you reach your destination? Maybe a 'wrong' turn is where you need to go. 

Just maybe, there aren't any 'wrong' turns. Only rights.

--

#mood: JJP - Tomorrow, Today

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a tribute: to Kim Jonghyun

a tribute: to Kim Jonghyun