Welcome to the Quarterlife

I’ve just turned 25 – I’ve made it! I’ve reached a milestone, I’ve surpassed the quarter mark of my lifespan, or so I’ll choose to believe out of optimism, anyway. And the question that I’ve been getting since my birthday is “so have you had your quarter-life crisis yet?” People say it as if this is the norm now, and while I’ve been seeing the term pop up all over the place (it’s basically synonymous with millennials), I was under the impression that this experience was optional. It’s not that I think they’re inevitable for everyone, but it’s definitely something that I think I can pass on. I see it this way – I’ve already surpassed a quarter of my lifespan, and judging from how time has been absolutely flying (it’s still hard for me to grasp adulthood – when did this happen?), I’ll be 100 before I know it. Time is precious, I feel it more than ever now. So in that case, I don’t have time for a meltdown, for a full-blown crisis. Is my life perfect? Is my life path smooth and paved in gold? Absolutely not. But I’m here, aren’t I? Hardships don’t define me. I learn what I can from situations and keep going, keep growing. It’s hard, but by now I have a better sense of navigation.

So in summation, yes, I am at the quarter-life stage, but I do not have any time for a crisis. This year, I’m looking forward to 365 sunny days. I know that this won’t be easy – I’m going to have to put in some work, and at this stage I think that 25 is the perfect time to do it. So I’ve chosen 5 things I’d like to focus on for this year, to make it the best ever.

5 Things to Focus on For 25

Expand My Horizons

I’m looking forward to a year bursting with new experiences. Of course, we experience new things all the time, but for a couple of years my life has been all about the routine. A lot of it had to do with my not being able to afford much more than the occasional drink out with friends (the Americorps life wasn’t much of a social one for me). And so, I’ve decided that to shake it up, I’ll embark on my own kind of “year of yes” journey. I’m going to open myself up to enjoy new experiences by accepting the ones that come my way, and on top of that I’m also going to set out to do the things I’ve always wanted to, but never could before.

For example, one of my good friends invited me to join her on a trip to New Orleans at the end of the month. My first instinct was to say “No it’s too expensive, too soon, I’ll need to take off from work, blah blah blah…” but then I realized that these are all just excuses, that New Orleans is a place that I’ve always wanted to go, and that I have the worse habit of always thinking “no” first. Why do I stop myself from doing new things, things that I actually do want to do, if I could just let myself go? This is exactly the behavior I need to change. It’ll be a hard habit to break, but I think that a year of practice oughtta do it.

The Mind and Body Connection

a) Get Into Yoga. While I certainly do enjoy my life, I admit that I’d benefit from a little extra chill time. My past attempts at yoga have been unsuccessful, mostly because I have never been able to find my center, aka get my brain to shut up for more than three seconds at a time so that I can focus the way that those soothing yoga instructors tell you to. This has never bothered me before – after all, there are countless other ways to exercise. But now when I read about yoga or hear people talk about how they can’t function without their daily yoga, I no longer want to slap them in the face for being pretentious. Alas, now I am jealous of their inner peace, how they just radiate a certain chill-ness from their very core. Meanwhile, here I come trampling in like an over-caffeinated chipmunk, loose thoughts going every which way. It’s time for me to shut up and focus so that I can achieve some inner peace and experience mindfulness already, Goddamn it.

b) Exercise on the Reg. This has been my resolution every single birthday since I first learned how to be self-conscious about my body. And you guessed it, I have never been able to stick to a regular exercise routine. It’s just soooo easy to not work out, am I right? But now I’ve decided that this year, I’m going to look better than I ever have in my whole life. Now that that’s been decided, I am very much looking forward to that. So come on, self – no slacking this year! I’m going to make an exercise routine that I can stick to.

Be a Real Friend

The first thing that people notice about me is that I’m nice. It’s been that way since I was a kid. I don’t know this out of an impressive amount of self-awareness – I know because people tell me. When they do, they say it with such awe, as if they thought it was impossible for someone to ever be this nice. Me being myself, I never look at it as being as big of a deal as they make it out to be. After all, I’m just following that Golden Rule that Jesus (or rather, my mom when she taught my Sunday school classes) taught me when I was little. Treat others the way you want to be treated. It’s so simple. I want people to treat me well. So I treat other people well. Of course, this doesn’t always work out for me. But at least I can feel pretty good about the karma that I’m putting out into the universe.

That being said, you’d think that I’d have tons of friends, like I’d be surrounded by so many friends I wouldn’t know what to do with them all. But no, my life is contrary to that – I’m not sure exactly why (I have some ideas but I can’t pinpoint the exact reason), but I have a hard time building lasting connections with people. I have tons of acquaintances, and I have the ability to hit it off with people and get them talking. But after some initial time spent, things rarely build into lasting relationships.

I recognize that this is on me. If I want to make good friends, I have to start by being a good friend myself. It’s hard, but I need to be present, to focus more attention on the people around me and foster those connections. It’s not something I’ve been great at, obviously, but I’m going to work on it. I hate the idea of going through life and at the end of it, realizing I had very few real connections with people.

Write Daily

My brain always feels like it’s teeming with ideas, stray thoughts and observations, goals, memories, etc. I love this, because that means there’s never a dull moment in the life of Rachel. Seriously, I could sit for like 45 straight minutes without anything to entertain me but my own thoughts, and still not be bored (in fact I do this semi-regularly, when I’m riding the subway into work and either a) forgot my book or b) haven’t had my morning cup of tea and therefore have no brain capacity to listen to the latest Serial podcast). However, how can one manage all these thoughts and not feel like a crazy person? It’s a fine line, as I’m sure everyone knows. That’s why I’d like to organize by putting all these things down on paper, or in this case, on blog. This will also serve as an excellent space to exercise that creativity muscle that can get so neglected in the routine of everyday life.

Write My Own Endings

I’m taking inspiration from the late and great Norah Ephron here, who said “Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” This is something that I have tried to put into practice in my own life many times, but have been unsuccessful with, or at least not fully successful with. Bad things have happened in my life, as they could to anyone, things that have put me in a real tailspin. But these things shouldn’t have the power to rewrite my story. Like I said before, I just have to keep going and keep growing. I’m the author of my own life, and so that means I get to define my experiences, and I get to choose how I perceive the plot twists and endings of my various chapters. I’ve never been able to take full responsibility of that power, but it’s about time that I was the heroine of my own story.

And so, I’m tasking myself with finding the positive spin on every situation, from past reflections to current happenings. It’s time I took up the role of the heroine in my own life.

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