The Quarter-Life Crisis - Finding Peace Despite the Unknown of Your Future

In this life, the unknown is seemingly all that we are faced with.

No-one truly knows what they'll end up doing, where they'll end up going, who will stay in their lives and who will leave.

What will happen next year, next month, or next week.

Tomorrow, even.

Nothing is ever guaranteed, and yet, as millennials, we are expected to make choices regarding our future that guarantee our place on a particular path.

But, many of us don't even know what path we want to be on, or which path will be the right path for us to take. And so, flurried by endless thoughts of 'what if', we often wake up on a morning and think...

What on Earth am I doing with my life?

It's such a stressful question. An overwhelming one. A very demotivating one, actually.

Because, I always liken it to sitting in the middle of a hideously messy room, and being told to clean it up. You look around and realise you can barely even see the floor.

It's that feeling of 'where do I even start', you know? There is so much to do, too much to do, and it just feels easier to quit whilst you're ahead and do nothing at all.

That's what it's like when you try to tackle the issue of your future.

Then, of course, you log onto social media, and suddenly it feels like everyone is in this race and you're right at the back, struggling in last place.

So, what do you do? It can't be avoided, after all.

Throughout your life, you have to make decisions that will impact your future in some way. You have to make sacrifices, and you have to handle the uncertainty of whether or not you made the right choice.

It's just the way it is.

But that doesn't make it any easier. In fact, if anything, it makes it even harder. God only knows how many times I've had the 'I didn't ask to be born, now I'm just thrown into the deep end and expected to figure it out' meltdown.

Trust me, my existential anxiety comes out in full force.

But, the world keeps turning, the expectations keep building, and life doesn't give any of us any breathing space.

We've just got to keep going.

So, of course, we do, most of the time. Get up, dress up, show up and all of that; hopeless but somehow hopeful all the same. Our minds are swamped with questions, often those that cannot be answered:

Am I working hard enough?

Will I get to where I really want to be?

At what point do I stop pursuing this dream?

Am I wasting my time doing X, Y, and Z?

And, honestly? I cannot answer any of those questions for anyone. Truth be told, I'm asking myself exactly the same things, right this very second.

You see, I can't speak on behalf of everyone, but I think the most prevalent issue for me is the constant battle between letting things happen and making things happen.

Let's be realistic, how many times have you heard the phrase ''it'll all work out in the end'' in response to questions regarding your future? How many times have you been told ''if it's meant to be, it will be'' when struggling with a tough decision?

Well, this is the philosophical doctrine of Fatalism, whereby one resigns themselves to future events which are thought to be inevitable.

And, in one sense, it can be quite reassuring to internalise the belief that all is in the hands of an external force.

For example, let's take my pursuit as a musician. I live in a small town where very little (if any) opportunity presents itself, and so I'm not really putting myself out there, as such, because I don't live in a place where it's all that possible to do so.

It is therefore exceptionally easy for me to start berating myself, feeling as though I'm not doing enough, that I don't deserve to be successful because I'm not pushing any boundaries.

So, putting my career as a musician in the hands of destiny most definitely takes some of the pressure off, placing my faith in the concept of 'right place, right time', rather than believing that I should be choosing the place, that I should be choosing the time.

But, if this is so, then what happens to our free will?

Does this mean that, in my case, I have no control over whether I "make it" in the music industry or not? Or, is fatalism simply an excuse to be lazy; a cop out excuse for staying within the realm of my comfort zone?

The truth is, I just don't know.

That's why, despite being told that the world is our oyster, being young is just as terrifying as it is exciting, and I, for one, am finding it relatively difficult.

There are some people my age having children, and others living in their own place. There are some travelling with money that I quite evidently do not have, and others living out their best lives with the supposed love of their lives.

On the contrary, I am single, I am financially unstable, I derive a good chunk of my happiness from fictional characters and I'm about as maternal as a make-up wipe.

Or, if you're looking for an umbrella term, I am simply


But, albeit gradually, I am trying to come to terms with it, and maybe you could, too.

Here's how...

1) Learn to accept what you cannot change.

Despite not being a particularly religious individual, I've found this passage of The Serenity Prayer to help me find peace on numerous occasions.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.

Stir-crazy it may send us all, but it's just a fact - none of us can truly know what the future holds. Yes, we can try to steer ourselves onto a particular path; we make our own choices, we pursue our own relationships and careers, we hold an element of control.

But, worrying about whether things will work out in the way that we imagine will not change whether or not they actually do so.

Of course, it is far easier said than done, but internalising that mentality is a crucial step towards achieving inner peace.

2) Pay attention to what makes you happy.

We're all guilty of doing things that we think we should do, rather than doing the things that we actually want to do.

Everyday, I witness so many people adopting the mentality of realism, so much so that they completely forget about optimism.

It's okay if you've aimed for one particular career since you were young, only to realise it's no longer what you want. It's absolutely fine if you find yourself outgrowing a certain place, or certain people. It's not a problem if you're in the midst of something, be it a job, an educational qualification, or even a relationship, to stand up and say ''no, this isn't the path I want to be on.''

Because doing what makes you happy is success.

The rest will fall into place around you.

3) Trust in yourself.

I once received a very important piece of advice, and I've taken it with me ever since.

If you don't believe in yourself, nobody else will.

Self-confidence was something I used to confuse with arrogance, and I thought that believing in my own abilities was big-headed and egotistical. But, I've since come to learn that you cannot convince others of your capabilities if you do not believe in them yourself.

You may not know the direction that you're going in, but trust that you'll get there, wherever it is that you want to be. Tell yourself that things will fall into place despite your lack of knowing, maybe not any time soon, but someday.

Mindset really is everything.

4) Stop racing against the clock.

I know it feels like time isn't on our side, particularly with the speed at which it passes.

Each and every year flies by, and before we know it we're expected to be adults, barely even given the time to acknowledge that adolescence is over.

Naturally, we draw comparisons between ourselves and every other millennial around us, and given that we're all at different stages, it's hard to gauge whether or not we're on track at all.

For example, it's a bit difficult for me to feel like I've achieved anything at all musically when there's an 18 year old out there winning more Grammy's than I've got swimming badges (I'm looking at you, Billie Eilish).

But, that's her journey.

The person that you're comparing yourself to? That's their journey.

And, a flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.

So, if you're in the midst of a quarter-life crisis, I know exactly how you feel.

If you're completely clueless as to where your life is going, hey, join the club.

Because, truthfully, the majority of us will be feeling the same, and yes, that includes the person on Instagram that seems to have it all figured out.

In which case, maybe you're not last in the race.

Maybe there's no race at all.

All the love,

Chlo xx


County Durham, United Kingdom

© 2020 this japanese crane - chloe nattrass.