Last Updated on December 4, 2020 by Rat Race Running
It was 2014 and I just graduated from college. Six months later, I passed the ECE and ECT boards.
Everything went according to plan. I graduated on time and passed the board exams.
Life was going great when suddenly, it struck me, “What should I do now?”
I’ve been looking forward when I finally graduate, pass my board exams, become an engineer, and practice my profession. However, I haven’t considered what I would do next.
For the first time in my life, I didn’t have a goal and it scared me. I felt lost, anxious, and depressed.
The next thing I know, I was six-months unemployed. I didn’t expect that looking for a job would be so difficult. I always assumed that jobs would literally line-up for me as soon as I get my license, but I was wrong.
My Journey Through Quarter-Life Crisis
This is not only my story. I know many can relate to the heartbreaking, soul-crushing reality upon entering adulthood. A phenomenon we call a quarter-life crisis.
As I was looking for a job, multiple times I did not make it to my target company. Failures after failures in exams and interviews prevented me from landing a job that I always imagined I would do.
In 2015, I “settled” and took the job offer from a multinational tech company out of necessity. “I can always leave the company after my contract.”, I told myself, but instead, I spent four years in the organization.
To be fair, I learned a lot from that company. I also learned to love it, not because of the salary or benefits, but because of the wonderful people I had the privilege of working with. Many of which, I still communicate and meet with whenever possible.
My quarter-life crisis did not happen in an instant. I think it started upon realizing everything was moving so fast, but I was going nowhere. Gradually, it worsened over time.
I felt trapped in a corporate rat race, competing in a never-ending cycle of paychecks and expenses — with no end in sight. I realized that I’d be doing the same work over-and-over again for the next forty years.
But I know I needed to do something to improve my situation. So, I got up, dressed for work, and strived for another day hoping things will change for the better.
We all fight silent battles, so it’s okay to ask for help. We need to trust God’s plan, that eventually, everything will fall right into place.
Everyone’s experiences are unique, but we all have similarities. And through those similarities, I hope to share some personal lessons I learned, which I hope you’ll find helpful.
“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.”Ecclesiastes 3:1
1. Have a personal relationship with God.
If you only have one takeaway from this post, I hope this is it. During my trying times, I rediscovered God’s love and His purpose in my life. He is my rock and my salvation. I learned to trust more on His plans and put my confidence that it’s all for my good.
Looking in hindsight, all of my failures and trials are just preparations for my destination.
Whenever you feel lonely and have no one to talk to, and your mind is filled with anxiety, fear, and worry, remember that you can always cry and pour your hearts out to God and know He is listening. Pray and discover that there is no one like Him.
A healthy body is a healthy mind. I started running and exercising in 2015, which I carried until today. Running gives me time to think and to slow things down because mental exhaustion is more tiring than physical fatigue.
Doing regular exercise also aids in better sleep and decreases anxiety and depression. Try to do a 10-min walk and see if it lightens your mood.
In 2016, I rediscovered my heart for volunteerism, which became dormant after my first year in college. I began volunteering in the children’s and education sectors of my previous company’s corporate citizenship initiative. My volunteering experience pointed me to the direction which I will eventually take – teaching.
You can volunteer for any causes, especially those closest to your heart. You may choose disaster response, hunger and poverty, children’s welfare and education, health, and wellness, and many more.
Volunteering keeps our privileges in check, and we learn to give back. If you are reading this on your phone or computer, you should realize you’re more fortunate than many and are given an excellent opportunity to extend help.
May we be a funnel and channel of blessing to less fortunate people. Hopefully, through these actions, we may develop a sense of humility and empathy.
I developed a passion for reading during this season, which I am very thankful for. Read books – not just good books but great books. Reading books will widen your perspective on many things.
Read, both for the mind and for the heart. Read more children’s books and topics like history, psychology, culture, faith, and many more.
Remember that what we read influences how we think, which in turn strengthens or diminishes our character. Avoid reading trash from social media: garbage in, garbage out.
5. Have a support group.
I am part of a close-knit group of three friends, which I can talk to whenever I need someone. In return, they can also come to me if they need a friend. I am also close with my sister and my cousin, who share the same ideals as mine.
It is vital to have a small group of individuals with whom you are comfortable sharing your thoughts, problems, and aspirations. They should also have the courage to rebuke you when you’re wrong.
We are no longer in high school and this is not a popularity contest. Few authentic friends are far better than a crowd of acquaintances.
6. Avoid social media.
I had to minimize my social media usage during that time because of its toxic nature. It was 2016, and the presidential election is approaching, and we know how stressful that year was for families and friends.
If you are going through problems, avoid social media as much as possible, especially Facebook and Instagram. Those sites usually display a facade of other people’s highlights and a standard of comparison of what we lack. As a result, it lowers our self-esteem and leaves us feeling left out. It is also very draining to consume continuous stream of information, which is detrimental to our mental health.
7. Be comfortable with yourself.
Being alone is not being lonely – it is a choice, and you need to learn the difference. It is necessary to be satisfied with yourself at home or going to places alone, whether it be concerts and gigs, seminars and conferences, sales and bazaars, etc.
If you’re fortunate, you may also meet someone with the same interest or strike a conversation with strangers. Move outside your comfort zone and learn to be more independent.
8. Travel more.
See more places. Go alone or with a small group. You don’t need to go to luxurious locations, it can be remote islands, mountaintops, or other places within the province or the country. You can always travel on a budget or plan it in advance.
Immerse in other cultures and experience their lifestyle. Talk to locals, eat authentic food, and see tourist attractions and discover how diverse a nation can be.
9. Try new things
Know that not everything is worth experiencing. You need to discern if something is worth your while. During my quarter-life crisis, I discovered multiple interests like running, personal finance and investing, reading, and writing, and so much more.
I realized that I am a multipotentialite – someone with different interests and creative pursuits and doesn’t have to excel in everything and even be good at one thing, I just have to enjoy what I do.
I’ll always prefer being a jack-of-all-trades, master of none because it is better than being only a master of one.
10. Be closer to your family.
Time is short, so we need to spend more time with our family. Let us respect our differences and be at peace with one another. One of the reasons I came back to the province is to be with my family.
11. You are not alone
Always remember that you are not alone in your trials. There is always someone willing to help. But before someone can offer help, you need to be open to it. Many people carry their burdens alone and let their families and friends play charades of their circumstances until it’s too late.
First, pray, then call for help. There are now services offering free counseling if you are having a mental or emotional breakdown. You can also talk to a close friend or relative who understands what you’re going through.
12. There is no timeline.
I wrote a separate post about how our generation is always in a hurry. I learned that everyone’s timeline is different. So let us avoid comparisons and envy. Your time will come, so don’t beat yourself too hard. Just do the work today and have faith that tomorrow, everything will eventually be better.
This season is critical because it can make or break a person. Learn as much as possible and love as deeply as possible. Your time will come, so persevere.
Don’t build walls of separations; instead, build bridges of connections. We need others as much as others need us.
Trust in God’s plan – He is never late nor early. He is always on time.