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Day 22 - Quarter-Life Musings

As an aged, wise 25-year-old, I’ve acquired such a wide breadth of knowledge, it’s hard to narrow down what I’d tell my younger self to just one, or even two, things (hopefully my sarcasm is noted). So here are some of the things that keep me moving through my 20s, that I wish my younger self might have had some foresight into. (Also, I hear your 30s are supposed to be better. If someone can confirm that, it’d be a big relief for current me).

Starting off with some of the lighter points:

Brace yourself, but you’ll be living in Texas and it will be of your own free will.

Luckily, there will be this magical land called Austin, where your political beliefs will be reassured, there will be plenty of dogs to pet and it will be generally acceptable to do so, and melted cheese will be a part of your daily diet. (Side note: you’re not lactose intolerant, but you’re getting there, so EAT ALL THE CHEESE WHILE YOU STILL CAN.)

Consider finding an employer who will allow you to deposit a portion of your paycheck directly to Target.

Whether you’re feeling sad, happy, or just purely existing, Target will be your Mecca; it’ll be the place that grounds you. Just know that whenever you step into the red and white fortress, you’re most likely going to walk out with at least one new top and at least a hundred dollars lighter.

You’ll still be watching Bravo.

Don’t worry, Bravo is still a channel and Andy Cohen is still the emperor of mindless, yet highly-scripted, reality TV. However, your favorite Real Housewives city will change multiple times, depending on where you are in life. You’ll go through a brief period where Orange County is your favorite city, but don’t be too hard on yourself—we all have low points.

Now the meat and potatoes of what I’d tell lil’ me:

There will always be things that are hard, but your ability to deal with them will get better.

I’d like to say that life gets easier, but sadly, it doesn’t. Sometimes, it will get even more challenging. You’ll feel things you’ve never felt before, both good and bad. You’ll still have panic attacks (womp-womp), but you’ll no longer start physically running from them. You’ll be able to sit and face them.

Just know that with each thing you go through and recover from, it’ll make that next hurdle a little bit easier to jump over. You also won’t have to do things alone, and don’t feel like you have to. Some of the friends you have now will still be there to help support you through the highs and lows, and you’ll have even more pretty amazing people join your corner along the way.

Follow the writing, wherever it takes you.

Worried what you’ll do with that degree in English Language Literature? You should be. Luckily, as your Dad keeps telling you, everyone needs people who can write. Your career in writing might not look like you imagined (being a writer for Rolling Stone hasn’t quite happened yet, but honestly, that’s probably for the best), but the variety will be fun. You know how you know virtually nothing about computers, other than using AIM? Well, you’ll end up working for a tech company! The exposure to the new and unfamiliar is a great thing, trust me.

Things happen for a reason.

You’re going to go through some things and wonder why in the world it’s happening to you. Wonder why you moved to Texas by yourself? Well, there’s going to be a lot of things building up to it, so be grateful for each one that comes along. It might take some time, but eventually you’ll look back on those things and realize they’re what helped you get to where you are—and I’m pretty sure you’re going to like where you end up.

26 Comments
Level 10

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Level 14

Hang on for a wild ride. The world lays before you at 25... Stay alert for the hidden opportunities that await you.... the can and will be the best.

As one English Major to another...Use your skills to help meaningfully communicate to others... 41 years after graduation it is an integral part of what I do each day.

It's great to see someone else in their mid 20's participating in this writing challenge! I can connect with you on your sentiments regarding life not getting any easier. As young adults we sometimes can't wait to gain that independence we've been denied our entire lives, but we're surprised to find out that it's not all sunshine and rainbows. We are forced to adapt and overcome. Onward and upward my friend!

MVP
MVP

I just saw a meme today that reflects your point about hard things. It said "You can let life's difficulties make you bitter or better - it takes the same effort."

MVP
MVP

I guess I had a quarter-life crisis. Decided to change what I was doing with my life, start a different career path. While I have regrets about certain periods in my 20's, I'm glad it has led me to where I am today.

It isn't surprising that people experience a mid twenties crisis of sorts. On average our brains at that point are just finishing up adjusting to being awash with hormones. They are ending a period of wide open learning, changing from a period of rapid growth in favor of more efficient operations, and dropping a lot of non-essential things from our childhoods. Hopefully things will settle out. I have had only one panic attack in my life so far and I DO NOT WISH that on anyone.

As gfsutherland​ noted, it is great that you have stayed open to the opportunities that present themselves and hope you continue to do so.You never know where they might take you but if you are paying attention and learning from each experience on average it should be a good time. I myself moved from NJ, to Ohio, to California, to Ohio, to Illinois, and now in Iowa. Neither my wife nor I would have ever thought we would be living here. But it is ok. Each place brings new people and adventure. Don't hesitate to get out and explore. It is a weird feeling when you as the new person in place have gone out and experienced things the natives haven't because they are not that curious about their locality. For example, I grew up driving past the Statue of Liberty on a weekly basis. I saw her everyday from where I went to college. Yet I never went out to the island. It wasn't until I went back with my wife and her daughter that we took the ferry out. On the flip side my wife and I go out and explore when ever we move. We go to all the little towns and festivals. Yet when we talk to our neighbors they don't even know that these things are right in their own backyard.

There will always be things that are hard, but your ability to deal with them will get better.

Experience is funny that way if you are willing to learn from it. When you live thru something painful and successfully get on with your life, it makes you stronger for the next time. Because you know you will survive and this to shall pass. The key is not to let any of it destroy you. I am talking about not letting yourself fall into a spiral of destructive thinking or behavior. I have met people who did not come out the other side of difficult times in good shape. They were on what our culture says is the right path and then tragedy struck. They ended up decades later in a not so nice place because they didn't deal well with it. It sounds like you, sydney.moorhead​​ , at least have a strong foundation of self reflection and insight and that I think makes you well prepared for whatever life is going to send your way. Bon voyage!

Level 9

Although I won’t call it a major crisis, I did have a career change around age 25. I started out graduating with an Accounting degree and obtaining my CPA and CMA. The company decided to network the business and I was asked to spend a year investigating options, presenting my conclusions, and then implementing the decision. This was the best thing that could have happened to me. What I learned; Accounting is boring and wasn’t getting any more interesting, Information Technology is facinating and challenging, and I could use Accounting while working in IT. 

While a challenge, I found this to be exciting and rejuvenating. Leaving a feild that was stagnant with little change and joining the constantly changing feild of IT was just want I needed. Over my 25 years since, I have never regretted this decision.

As with many things in life it had its challenges. But I saw those as growth opportunities and learning experiences. I was willing to take calculated risk.  (Remember I was much younger). This built my confidence and made me a better manager and employee. It brought out the best in me and I am better for it. All my core principles on running a network were built from these first experiences. I have learned, made mistakes, and broken systems. All of this has made me the best IT Manager I can be today. Experience is only good if you learn from it.  Take it for what it is and get something you can use in the future from it.

Level 10

Quarter life musings-crisis; at 25 there is a whole lot of things to achieve ahead.

Opportunities are in abundance.

Do or do not, there is no try. Just go ahead an do what you like. Each decision to do something will strengthen your future decisions.

Level 11

Sometimes in life you get to where you are, then decide that it's not where you wish to be.  I know i've been there.  I changed path a little later than mid twenties, but the sentiment is the same.  Just be honest with yourself, as whilst at 25 or so, you think you know everything.  Truth is, that you learn each and every day, until the day you die, or at least that's what i've learned so far.  Who knows what tomorrow will teach me

Congrats sydney.moorhead​ You are half way there at 25. Le me tell you. Everything you know now you'll have to learn all over again by the time yu are 50. Some thoughts and opinions that you held onto so dearly at 25 you'll back on at 50 and laugh at and wonder why you cared so much. Then there will be some feelings and experiences that you will give up a major organ for just to experience them again.

When I was 25, 20 years ago (5 years old) seemed like forever. Now that I am almost 50 20 years doesn't that long...

great read, thank you.  I appreciate the idea on life and living.   I would have never guessed my life and career would have lead me from Central Illinois, to Montana, to Las Vegas, to Florida.   And I did it all freely.   Year 23 of IT and still living free, free to live thanks to the career that has lead me here.

Level 10

'Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.' - Michael Jordan

Level 14

Thanks for sharing. There's a lot of wisdom in your post.  Don't let anyone discount your wisdom because of your age. Stay level headed!

Level 15

Thanks for sharing. It's interesting how so many of our stories are similarly surrounded by our initial expectations vs end results. The flexibility to adapt to anything thrown in the path is a regular marker of comfort and success.

Level 13

At quarter life I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do. 

Level 12

Wisdom comes when you're finally willing to listen to those wiser than you and you're willing to accept it.

Thank you, sydney.moorhead​, for sharing a little piece of your "quarter-century-old" self.  And thank you for laying bare your struggles with "panic attacks".  Having been blessed to not experience those, at least not that I recall, I honor and respect those who do have attacks and Warrior through them, if only as a "sit down and face them".

When I was 25, I was just starting out in my IT career.  I had finished with college and had gotten a job as an inside sales person at a local computer retailer.  I shan't bore you with the gory details, but I learned something at that job that has stuck with me ever since (and it's going to seem so petty and trite): use a really nice pen!  Yep, I know, the vane side of me comes out but let me explain.

As a gift for Christmas, 1992, my boss gave everyone a gold-filled Cross pen.  He said that every salesman (read "sales person") should have a really nice pen on them at all times.  And believe it or don't, I have carried a gold Cross pen with me ever since.  Maybe it gives me a sense of pride about who I am; or maybe it reminds of those early, wobbly years where I wasn't sure how, or if, I was going to make it on my own; or maybe it was just a pen (after all, as Freud said when asked about the phallic symbolism of his ever-present, burning, dried tobacco leaf, "Sometimes a cigar is JUST a cigar!").

My point is that wherever you are in life, you should look around and see what has meaning and why.  Are there things, to which we are holding on, of which we should let go?  Are there things we could pick up that would benefit ourselves and the world around us?  We should all do our best to be awake and alert, and be willing to take action on our instincts.

Level 8

Your words are very much appreciated and reassuring. Thank you for taking the time to read this and sharing your experiences!

Level 8

I'm glad to hear it all worked out! Thank you for sharing your experiences and giving me more confidence to take some risks.

Level 8

I'm looking forward to what each day will teach me too

Level 8

Thank you! I'm sure I'll be at 50 before I know it, but I'm looking forward to who I'll be and what I'll know by then.

Level 8

I really like that story and the sentiment. Thank you for taking the time to read my post and sharing such meaningful feedback!

Level 20

My situation was a little different.  At 25 I knew kinda what I wanted to do... i was wrapping up my studies in Computer Science and starting out doing networking on a few of the biggest networks for Uncle Sam.  I didn't realize it at the time but things eventually came full circle.  One thing's for sure... even in IT... someone has do document and write things down in a way other people can understand.  Also one really important area is the bridging of the gap between business people and IT people.  It may sound simple but it's much more important and difficult than it sounds.  Many people here on thwack I know didn't start out doing technology in school.

What’s the Difference Between Doing What You Like & Liking What You Do?

I think the key to happiness is finding a way to both do what you like and like what you do.  If you can find both it's hard to not find satisfaction in your career.

I love seeing the difference between what each of us would write to a younger self.  As I stifle the patronizing and trite thoughts and comments that want to boil out of my fingertips to provide unrequested advice and commentary, it causes me gratitude to you for your writing.  I wish I were 25 again, facing your life and problems and hopes and dreams.  At 59, I see and remember much, and I'll just sit on those observations.  You have a wonderful life to live--make it count!

Level 14

At 25 I had just started my IT career and had no idea of where it would lead.  Now I'm just over 50 and can look back at 25 years of interesting times, worked for 21 different companies (most as a contractor) in almost every industry, travelled the world (sometimes for work) and pretty much completed what most people would consider a mad bucket list.  Here's to the next 25 years and good luck with yours.