Here are two pieces of advice I keep in mind for when existential dread hits different.
I don’t need to tell you what a quarter-life crisis looks like. You are probably living it, and maybe you’re not having a good time. This is understandable; as someone who is also feeling the pleasure of their mid-20’s, I won’t try to offer advice. I just wanted to offer some messages of solidarity and comfort that I have come across.
There are no attributions to these quotes, they just represent bits of advice I have gained from friends and family.
“You are doing enough”
This one seems like an empty platitude or an outright lie, but there is a lot of wisdom behind it. First, if you are asking yourself the question, am I doing enough, you are showing that you’re putting pleasure on yourself. If you are not meeting your own expectations, you are realizing this as well, and you are now on the path to change this idea. So take a breath, because defeatism is as useless as it sounds.
The other possibility comes from a major problem with social media: comparison shopping. Everyone does it. Our escapism on the internet offers us a small snapshot of how our most actualized self would live. We inevitably forget just how selective people can be about their pretrial on the internet.
I’m not going to say that I’m at my full potential, or that I don’t look up to those who are successful in something I’m passionate about, but I keep perspective and realize the next piece of advice.
“There is always time, especially now”
This one is a call out to our hyper youth-orientated culture. Entertainment is focused on young people, most of the celebrities that bombard us on a daily basis, are young. This world view seems pretty simplistic, but you would be surprised just how much it affects our view of life.
We talk about peaking in high school as if “peaking” is a real thing that actually happens and when we witness talented individuals it can feel like time and experience are useless. Everything in popular culture seems like a zero-sum gain mostly because we generally like a Cinderella story, where everything lines up for the character right away, and then poof, they’re off to the ball to get their man.
We don’t realize that this is a story, a clever plot development for cheesy talent shows. When I talk to older and more experienced people, I have found a certain calm and attentiveness. They know that the best things take time, and that talent is only one tool to get a result.