Quarter Life Crisis

Trusting in our struggles will help us pave our maze called life.

Is it a funk? Are we lost? Perhaps just confused? Feeling under the weather? The blues? Depression? There are many ways to describe it, just so you know though, you are not alone.

I admire people who always know what they want, where they stand and which battles to fight. They are the type of people who set clear objectives, make plans to achieve them and do not waver in doing the necessary to attain their goals. Their lives are a fluid succession of events dovetailing into each other in harmonious succession like a perfectly performed aria.

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Unfortunately, unlike the straight horizontal timeline they have paved, the world is a formation of curves and circles, thus getting from point A to point B can be adversely altered by multiple variables such as their choices, their circumstances and their willingness to get up when they fall. It is a time when things come crumbling down, hope is lost and faith is at its edge. Life’s path is a maze, not a straight line. Since its unpredictable the best plan of action is having a contingency plan. Amidst the wrong turns, conflicting forces of right and wrong, truth and error, justice and injustice people fall into a deep abyss otherwise known as the quarter life crisis.

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Under this circumstance, all the promises of a new chapter in life filled with opportunities have become bittersweet memories of our care free days. Uncertainty has filled our minds affecting our decisions, we’ve become cynical and insecure about life.

Furthermore, in our technological era where success has as many yardsticks as the person evaluating: money, fame, number of patents or number of Grammys, pressures amongst the youth have multiplied. Long gone are the days where employment was a worthy measurement of all the time and effort from parents and guardians. Today, it is all about independence and self-employment. Why be a follower in a world of leaders? There have been rapid growth in fields that didn’t exist a mere decade ago and as a result they’re shaping and changing the dynamics of success in our developed world. Recent attractive phenomena include blogging, app developers, YouTube content developers and social media specialists to name a few. These professions are earning its founders a major income supply.

Who are the most famous names of our decade? Mark Zuckerburg or Rihanna ring a bell? Zuckerburg is the owner and founder of Facebook. He was able to transform a simple idea on communication and convert it into billion dollar business. Adding fuel to the fire, he was only 19 years old. If that not enough, at the age of 16 Rihanna signed her first record deal. Today she is renowned as the world’s most influential singers and fashion icon. They are not the first and definitely not the last. There are vast biographies of youth with similar stories. The question then is, why not you and I?

Now then, in such a golden age where anything is possible, is it surprising that the number of youth experiencing a quarter life crisis is broadening rapidly? The stakes are higher for today’s youth causing a third of ‘twentysomethings’ to feel depressed according to research by The Depression Alliance. A third does not seem conspicuous but once compared to 10 years ago, a period where tie-dye fun and quality ‘me’ time were the norm, then it strikes a chord.

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We the youth are in the most challenging yet intriguing period of our lives. Rather than fall into societal’s trap of monotony, our generation has the endless opportunity to build what we want without succumbing to social constructs. Instead of side-lining our dreams in the notion of ‘adulting’ we can readjust them to make them a possibility. This era offers advanced technological achievements that enable us to turn our miniscule ideas and hobbies into marketable ventures. Therefore, no more feeling down in the dumps, we can open our eyes to the endless possibilities. It is time to embrace our quarter life crisis as a blessing than a curse. It is an experimental phase, time to take risks and fail on numerous accounts because once we stand, we won’t fall easily.

Check out Tuzo Talks on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8ScknmsWrg

The World is Mine Oyster

No one in life is lost, just touring before arriving at their final destination.

“I’m anxious…”

Sonia would say. “Why?” Even she does not know although she is certain that there is something missing. I have the same feeling. It’s an emptiness, a feeling of incompleteness, but what specifically it is, I am yet to discern.  Truth be told, it is bothersome. I can feel it deep in my heart. It grows deeper with passing days. Is it because I am idle? Unlikely. This feeling cannot be eclipsed by temporary activities.

At such times, it’s common to seek relief. Though many ascribe to various different causes, the reality is that psychological illness is a disease of the mind and is curable with the proper medication. Some turn to comfort food hoping to feel better and others to drugs to escape a reality that they feel is too much to bear. These “solutions” are only a temporary fix. We are lost inside a maze filled with possibilities that we presently haven’t found the right path to truly becoming whole.

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Globally, an estimated 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression. It’s considered the most common mental disorder. Leave aside the usual down with the blues, feeling under the weather or being in a funk. The difference between a normal person and a depressed person is that, a normal person is capable “jump starting” themselves out of this situation unlike a depressed person. It affects millions of people physically, mentally and emotionally yet 80% of individuals affected do not receive treatment.

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Nonetheless, being lost does not imply a lack of emotional attachment. Rather one could have a loving and supportive family as well as close knit friendships and relationships, yet there’s a void to be filled. It’s an indication of self discovery. Once you have started to question yourself, you are already on the right path to enlightenment. The only problem is we do not know how long the journey of discovery will be. J.K. Rowling is a good example of this journey. Until the age of 30 she was a struggling single mother but today she is one of the most recognized and wealthiest writers in the world.

In order to have the mountain top experience, we have to pass through valleys and trenches. What does this mean? For one to appreciate the happiness in life, you must first experience suffering. Therefore, I encourage everyone to understand that the void, the loss and the hardship are the fruits of our joy and success. Therefore, we must hold on tight.

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I am a firm believer in life’s purpose and destiny. As Lao-Tzu, the famous philosopher says “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” It may not be clear from the beginning, but everyone ends up where they are intended. In the meantime, Shakespeare advices that “laughing faces do not mean there is absence of sorrow… but, it means that they have the ability to deal with it.” The breakthrough will take patience hence tackle life with a smile. You don’t know who that smile will touch and how they will play an influential role in your life. The world has lots to offer so I will persevere because a close friend once told me ‘hard work beats talent any day’. Your attitude should be, “the world is mine oyster”.

For Granted

When life is in perfect tune, don’t forget to turn your eyes to those who need it.

I have an Iphone, a decent car and a family with both loving parents. Note I keenly insist on the ‘both’ as in duos, they are alive and well and for that I’m thankful. I believe that I am a glass half-full kind of person but then I tend to hold my fair share and probably some else’s share of complaints (a less fortunate person at that).

‘That’s not right!’, ‘I want it, but can’t afford it’, ‘All these cool kids are so pretentious’ (Just cause I’m not one)

In such a situation, I only see things in one perspective, mine. As long as it’s not going my way, it’s wrong. Life is a perfect mix of yin and yang. Alternatively, you get what you give. By closing myself to only one outlook on life, I have ignored many that require my attention. What’s in it for me? For as long as my perfect bubble is intact, all is well.  So to myself (and anyone who wants to listen) I say this, no matter how you feel, get up, dress up and never give up.

Even so, don’t close and size me up in a category just yet. The human nature is egoistic and selfish. It’s all about survival. However, our need to survive has been tampered by globalization’s need for consumption. Clearly I too have been affected by this ideology. It ‘s no longer simply about survival but rather it is survival with comfort. I had an Iphone 5 but as soon as the Iphone 6 was out I wanted it too. Just like everyone, I felt like queuing the shop on release date, but I couldn’t afford it and my parents were not going to indulge me. After extensive months of saving, I finally got it. Although I don’t regret the decision, looking back at all I did just to get latest version of the same phone I already had, I can only laugh about it now; its in the past. Yet I can justify that the experience did leave me with a lesson or two.

Let’s make it worse. As I was complaining the other day, I mention to my confidant that I hate having to hustle trying to convince parents to see things your way when they don’t have a united front. For several minutes I went on, with no feedback until she finally speaks in a monotone and says “at least you have parents to complain about”. At this point, I ventured into new territory. It was a glimpse of someone else’s life, a glass half-empty perspective. I just felt foolish.

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We don’t realize things until they are painted to us in black and white. While at that precise moment my thoughts were ‘she’s such a downer’ ultimately what she said remained creeping at the back of my mind. In this consumption based world, we take many things for granted. We have gotten used and comfortable with material possession and the need for more and this has made us selfish. Our attitudes towards life need an adjustment. The middle class is most notable of this behavior. Children these days no longer feel the joy and emphasis of age limit. For instance, personally my parents would get as a laptop at the age of 15. These days, its child abuse if they don’t have a smart phone in fifth grade. What do you think they’ll demand at 15?

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In the spirit of Christmas, the yin is to share a meal with friends and family. On the other hand, the yang includes all the unfortunate people who have less than their basic needs. So this holiday, I ask everyone to change perspective. Let’s make it a habit never to take anything for granted, not the family, friends and the things we own. For a minute consider this, the 5 pairs of sneakers you consider lacking, in another perspectives, those 5 pairs of sneakers could mean the world to 5 different people. Having a variety of things is not a crime, we simply have to remember to appreciate what we have become not everyone is in the same situation.  On that note, even Kim Kardashian has gotten into the spirit this holiday and is giving away 1000 shoes for charity. The act of seeing someone in need and lending a hand, it’s the greatest gift to the receiver.

Circumstance

You are defined by your actions, not by your circumstance.

Nothing is new, I couldn’t sleep. So, from my bed, at 3 in the morning I decided to look outside my window. Compared to the hustle and bustle of the week, it was peaceful and quiet. The office building opposite lit up the street but not one car makes its way down the road. I liked the tranquility. I realize, as my day has yet to come to an end, to someone else, less than an hour away their day would begin. Is it fair?

Every day the sun gracefully rises and sets to the west and every day carries different meaning, struggles and happiness. As I stare out my window, wide awake, I ponder upon the complex network of multi-cultured people that dwell on this planet, each one going about their everyday life. Again I ask, is it fair?

Just yesterday I read a quote by John Clarke – which also prompted my need to write this article – it stated “how can a slave and master both worship the same God, when both of them expect their prayers to be answered by this very same God?” I don’t know about you but Clarke definitely got me thinking. Atheist aside, we all believe in God (despite the various denominations). Belief is supposed to raise hope and give purpose to life. The fact is, all human beings have free will. It’s the ability to decide what we believe is best under our circumstances.

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Religiously, on the basis on free will and circumstance, how is it then that some are condemned for the choices they make? Who determines the right from wrong? As an atheist, over the years its been scientifically understood that humanity’s primary objective is to survive.  Only the fittest among us shall survive hence procreate over generations, which is through adaptation. Then again, in the endeavor to survive, why are others judged for their choices? It’s a perplexing concept.

As a Christian, my belief has always been that God gave us free will but we become responsible for our actions. Socialization instills in us the nature of morality, the right and wrong, the good and bad. Therefore, the decision we make have a personal reflection on oneself. Upon meeting a liberal English pastor, I began reflecting on my belief. According to him, I have a privileged outlook of life. Same goes to the many educated individuals in the world who don’t suffer in poverty. My socialization and status quo are privileged thus should not be taken for granted. He further explains, a child who is born and raised under poverty for instance, whose parents like all, only want the best for their child however incapable turns towards prostitution as a girl or dealing drugs as a boy, are they to blame for the choices they made under their circumstance? Since humanity is all about survival, then this child, with little to nothing, is s/he to blame for the poor choices? As to them, as a matter of life and death, they choose to live inadequately rather than the alternative. A common phrase ‘it’s better to do something than nothing at all.’ To be clear, I am not justifying any actions on the basis of poor circumstances. Rather, I want to understand the choices and behaviors that are influence by circumstance.

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Alternatively let us consider the other coin, the world of the elite. It is not uncommon to use marriage as an instrument of securing wealth and social status. There consists of arranged marriages, marriages of convenience as well as marriages of transaction. Hereby, both parties mutually benefit economically as well as socially. According to the elite however, such behavior is considered acceptable. They have to consider the survival of generations. Nevertheless, when the same principle is applied between a member of the elite and a partner of a lesser cohort, society constructs such behavior as social climbing. The connotation of which is negative.  Shouldn’t those who are privileged be role models at promoting positive free will and not the vice versa?

The world is a complex food chain and human behavior makes it all the more difficult to decipher. It’s taken years for sociologist to understand patterns of human behavior, and there’s more in the horizon. Circumstance acts as the significant determining factor of human outcome but is not the sole factor for our actions. We as humans are responsible for our free will. Therefore acting on our instinct to survive we must use the cards dealt to create a fruitful outcome.

A Fateful Encounter

What is the purpose of fate if we shape our own destiny?

This is not a ‘happy-ending’ kind of story. Neither is it, a sad one. It’s about the cycle of life. Flaws are part and parcel of human nature. The beauty is in accepting the good and bad in order to survive. I want to understand the purpose of life; the reason behind our existence and the answer to why some events take place in our lives.

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I’ve recently come to a point where I’ve started to question my path in life. Where am I headed? Why did this happen to me? How come I feel like am floating? To those in their thirties it’s acknowledged as a mid-life crisis. Then for us in our twenties, should I consider it a process of self discovery? Nonetheless, in today’s fast track world, I am faced with the fear of missing out.

In passing conversation you overhear that, ‘fate gets its own way while destiny is up to you.’ It indulged my curiosity. The terms fate and destiny are used so lightly everyday and never given a second thought. By definition, fate is ‘the preordained course of one’s life that will occur because of or in spite one’s actions’; whereas destiny refers to ‘a set of predetermined events within one’s life that one takes an active course in shaping.’ On the contrary, fate generally carries a pessimistic connotation as compared to its optimistic counterpart destiny. I struggle to fathom why such is so. Therefore, I share my story to the world and let them be the supreme judges.

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Second Year of University I found myself attracted to a guy. It was not a crush since it was the first time to lay eyes on him. Yet I was intrigued. In a crowd with friends, they laughed honestly. His aura was inviting and in passing our eyes met for a mere second. As he disappeared, so did my temporary spell. Shaking it off, I went on my merry own way. A year later, making my way to the gym, a shoulder tap draws me to a halt. As I turned around, it was fateful. Mesmerized, it was then the second time to lay eyes on him. Pleasant as the moment was, he was flabbergasted. A split second later he apologized and explained that he mistook me for a friend and that the resemblance was uncanny. Confidently he moves forward to introduce himself. It was the beginning of a good friendship which grew deeper into a relationship. Unfortunately, one that ended before it began. Once again, we were strangers with a shared memory.

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Opposites do attract. As I am a vivacious extrovert, he was a reticent introvert. Yet I was always in awe of him from the first day. So despite my actions to ignore a momentary spell-bound attraction to a stranger, fate had other plans which led to our eventual demise. Fate has a purpose. Its mission is to educate. Through fateful encounters with life – both positive and negative – a life lesson can be depicted. These lessons are the fundamental steps that lead us to pave our own destiny. Destiny is the result of predetermined events in our lives where such events act as moral compass that we use to guide and shape our futures.