What My Quarter Life Crisis Taught Me
Being single is not a disease, nor are you diseased because you are single.
In the age of everyone posting their every move on every social networking site known to man, being a 20 something and single can feel isolating. Every time I log onto Facebook, someone else is engaged, married, pregnant or has had a baby. My Twitter feed is gushing with song lyrics about being in love, my Instagram feed full of “date night” and kissing photos. It would be so easy for me to look at these things every day and get down on myself or sink into self pity and stuff my face with bon bons because “woe is me I’m single”. But, you know what? I’ve never been one for the easy road, and being single does not define me, bring me down or mean anything is wrong with me. We are not defined by our relationship status. We are defined by the content of our character. Romantic love is not the only kind of love that can fill our lives with joy and purpose.
My life and heart are overflowing with love and relationships that bring me joy and make me feel alive. So turn off the computer, close those social networking apps on your phone that are full of posts that make you feel like you are lacking, and go out and live! Fill your life with things that give you purpose. Invest in the relationships in your life that bring you joy. Spend time with your parents, your siblings, your friends who are single, too, your friends who have families, your colleagues. Singleness is not a disease. Singleness is not a curse. Singleness is not a definition of who you are. Who you are is who you choose, day in and day out, moment by moment, to be.
Everyone should live alone at some point in their lives.
For the last 14 months, I have lived alone in a one bedroom apartment with my cat. Those 14 months have been some of the best of my life. I have always been comfortable being alone, as I have always been somewhat of a loner and an introvert, but there is nothing in the world that will teach you more about who you are and how to be comfortable in your own skin than living alone. Plus, there is no one to make a mess! Unless, like me, you happen to have a naughty cat who, on occasion, may make a bigger mess than even the naughtiest of toddlers.
Life is almost never easy.
In fact, life is often really, really, really hard. And confusing. And complex. But despite it all, life is incredibly beautiful. So soak it up! Focus on the good. Find the beauty. Embrace the hard stuff as awesome opportunities to learn and grow. Life may not be easy, but life is worth it.
If you are lucky enough to have one friend with whom you know no matter where life takes either of you, your bond will always be the same, you are lucky beyond measure.
Like anything in life that’s worth it, maintaining friendship takes commitment. In my adult life, my closest friendships have somehow transcended the definition of just “friendship”… my friends are something more like soulmates. They are the people I call when something wonderful happens and I want to share it, the ones that hold me while I cry when it feels like the world is crashing in around me, the people who can tell just by the look on my face or the tone of my voice what I’m feeling or what I need. They are the people who aren’t afraid to call me on my shit, the ones who can make me laugh like no one else can, the ones who no matter how many times we disagree, we make each other mad, we drive each other crazy… at the end of the day, none of it matters because we choose to forgive and we choose to let the things that bring us together trump the things that could tear us apart. Most importantly for me, my friends are the people that I can be 100% authentic with and they love me, and they can do the same, and I love them. I truly believe that if you are lucky enough to have ONE of these friends who is a soulmate, you are lucky beyond measure. I hope I never, ever take my friendships for granted.
Know who you are and live in that. Nothing else matters more.
This may sound really cliche, but there is truly nothing in the world more important than just knowing who you are and living a life that is true to that. Figure out what makes you tick, do what makes you feel alive, be with the people who make you better. Know yourself the way you know your best friend or your love, inside and out. Go out to dinner by yourself and learn to enjoy your own company. Write about who you are like you’re writing to your children in case something happens to you. Take personality tests. Try all kinds of activities, sports, hobbies and interests until you find one that drives you, moves you, propels you to change the world. Be your own best friend. Be aware of and come to understand the signals your body is sending you when you feel tired, alone, happy, sad, joyful, distressed, afraid. Only when you know exactly who you are and live every single second of every day faithful to that, will you know contentment.
Have values and stand up for them, but don’t degrade or dismiss others because their value system is different from yours. We live in a world where people seem to increasingly see things in black and white, where people are increasingly partisan in their political views and where many are pushing for change while many are pushing to maintain ‘traditional’ value systems. I have great admiration for anyone who has strong values, who stands up for what they believe in and who uses their strong feelings about those values and beliefs in positive, healthy ways to create change. I have even more respect and admiration for anyone who promotes their own cause without bashing anyone elses cause. I have great respect for people who are able to have value systems that they live for and fight for, yet still maintain the ability to have respect for and be in relationships with people whose value systems are different than or even in opposition to their own. The beauty of life is that we are all so very different than one another in so many ways, yet somehow, we are all connected in our humanity, and at the end of the day, that human connection should be strong enough to bond us together despite any difference of opinion that could tear us apart.
Have at least one friend who is drastically different from you… it will enrich your life and enlarge your view of the world.
Some of my dearest friends could not be more different from me. Not only do we balance each other out well with our differences, but my friends who are the most different than me have enriched my life more than words can express, have challenged me to grow and to be better, and have enlarged my view of this amazing world we live in like nothing else can. I hope for everyone that they have a friendship like that.
Listen to your heart, it holds your passion and your passion holds abundant life.
Stop for a moment and listen to the beat of your heart. With every beat, your heart is pumping blood that courses through your veins. That is your lifeblood. What is your heart beating for? What is the blood coursing through your veins crying out for you to do? Paint? Sing? Dance? Write? Call your Mom? Pick up and move somewhere far away and start a new life? Volunteer? There are a million different things your heart could be telling you, leading you to do. Do it. Do them. Don’t worry if people think you’re crazy, ignore the voice in your head that tells you you can’t, forget about what you “should” be doing – just follow your heart. The world needs people who are passionate, people who every day are pursuing the things that give their lives meaning, and in turn help give hope, purpose and meaning to the lives of the people in their paths. Life is too beautiful, too awesome, too short to NOT pursue your passion.
Spirituality and Religion, while they can live in harmony or be found together, are not the same thing.
This one is a doozy. Nobody likes to broach religion, talk about religion or write about religion. People get too offended too easily and we all walk on egg shells when it comes to conversation about religion or belief. Well, I cannot talk about what my Quarter Life Crisis has taught (er…is teaching) me without talking about religion and spirituality. A large portion of the population of this earth ascribe to some religious tradition. Many, many of those people find deep, lasting, purposeful spiritual ways of life through those religious traditions. Some of those people go through the motions of religion and find no spiritual way of life within it, some people use religion to oppress other people, some people simply follow the religious tradition they were raised in without ever questioning it or thinking outside of it. And then there are people who find deep spirituality outside of any specific religious tradition. Spirituality and religion can go hand in hand, but are different entities. For me, spirituality is a relationship with a God who is personal and creative and good, and spirituality is gratitude, and spirituality is being present in this moment, in every moment and spirituality is love. Spirituality for me is the every day moments when I am most aware of the presence of God – a hug from my Mom, a teachable moment with the kids, a hard run, being curled up on the couch snuggling with people whose family I was not born into, but who have become my family nonetheless. Spirituality, for me, is the foundation of life.
The reality of my life is far better than the life of my dreams.
If you asked me when I was 10 what my life would be like when I was 26, I would have likely told you something like this: “I will be a college graduate, married to the blonde haired, blue eyed man of my dreams, have a 2 and a half year old and another baby on the way, live in a pretty brick house on a cul-de-sac with lots of other kids and be writing for a living.” Sitting here today at 26 years old, only one of those things is true: I am a college graduate. Several years ago, I spent a significant amount of time (almost an entire year… okay, maybe even an entire year) grieving the life of my dreams when my relationship that was supposed to be my “fairytale” ended. Today, I wake up every single day and I am amazed, grateful and blessed beyond measure for the reality of my life. I may not be living the life of my childhood (or even grown up) dreams, but I am living a life that is blessed beyond anything I could have ever dreamed. I have the best family a girl could ever ask for, friendships that sustain me and fulfill me, a relationship with the God of my understanding that brings me peace, hope and comfort, a job that gives me great joy and that has given me the immeasurably beautiful gift of having a hand in molding and shaping the lives of children during this season of my life even though I do not yet have my own. I have a roof over my head, I have food in my stomach, I have a body that is healthy, I have hobbies and interests that fill my free time, I have goals and dreams that propel me forward and I have gratitude in my heart, every second of every day, for the beautiful, wild, blessed, unimaginably GOOD reality of my life.
You can read more from Katie Baucom on her blog.
(Image via ShutterStock.)