I recently told my Mom that I seem to be having a premature midlife crisis–a quarter-life rut, if you will.
It’s not really the I’m-gonna-get-a-sportscar-and-do-crazy-adrenaline-fuelled-things kind of crisis. Rather it’s something that started off as a small, momentary loss of momentum which slowly progressed into a treacherous sinkhole of a rut that feels unimaginable for even the strongest (wo)man to pull themselves out of.
It’s frustrating, to say the least.
It’s that nagging voice that you wake up to in the morning, saying, Hey, you’re getting older and you still don’t have much figured out! Or that feeling you get when you go on your social media page and see people you graduated with, getting far ahead in life–getting promotions, starting a company, exploring the world, etc.–while I sit in my pyjamas with unwashed hair; drowning in self-help books.
That being said, I consider myself a master in navigating ruts..
It’s not that I’m known to pull myself out of a rut so quickly and effortlessly… Instead it’s because with my luck and temperament, I always find myself falling into one treacherous rut after another; while I can’t confidently say I’ve come out unscathed every single time, I somehow managed to survive them with (most) of my sanity intact.
That has to count for something, right?
Be warned that I don’t have a quick fix. Unlike video games, there isn’t a legitimate hack or cheat; there isn’t a secret passage to get you out of this shit. (although if you find one, PLEASE DO LET ME KNOW ASAP!) The following are just little snippets taken from my experiences that you might find somewhat useful when you’re in a blue funk.
1. Realize that you’re in a rut. Take the time to throw a pity party to commemorate it.
When I’m in a rut, I often just want to get out of there quick. I rarely ever pause and savour the moment. Throwing yourself a pity party might seem like terrible, terrible advice but hear me out. It’s one thing to wallow in whatever is putting a damper on your mood, but it’s an entirely different thing to give yourself some time to acknowledge that you aren’t feeling like your best self.
Give it time. Let yourself feel however you feel–just don’t drown in it. Know that it’s okay not to be okay. Just make sure you don’t let the pity party go on and on.
Cry, be unproductive, watch funny animal videos, listen to songs from the early 90s, eat a tub of ice cream; do what you got to do to deal with your funk then get ready snap out of it.
I find that it’s important to pause and feel my low moments because when I’m finally able to bounce back, and I’m feeling good about myself, I want to remember and be truly grateful for having a better day. Then, the next time I fall back down, I can tell myself, from experience that hey, it gets better.
Side note: I like thinking of pity parties as unapologetic, self indulging sleepover so I think a soundtrack, movie list and snacks are needed here. Any suggestions?
2. Stop blaming life and everyone else in it. You have control, so take it.
While life can be a bitch, and her consequences might have been what has shoved you into that rut, it was you/us/ourselves who let life get her way.
Life can feel like a mean-spirited bully and sure it sucks, but we’re responsible for how we respond to her poking and prodding.
I always complain about how everything is so unfair. I could’ve done this, I could’ve been that, I could’ve gone there; but this and that made me into this under achieving shit and it’s this person and that person’s fault and so and so did this and– you get the point.
It’s always easier to blame someone or something else for everything that’s going wrong, but when everything is said and done, while not ever single circumstance was within our control, it is our own decisions that brought us to wherever we are now.
I used think I was going to be an author. I couldn’t imagine growing up and doing anything else but write. However, when it was time to choose my major in university, I couldn’t stand by that dream. I ended up in a career path that has never crossed my mind before. It was a mistake and I knew it from the beginning. Nobody held me at gunpoint and forced me onto that career path.
Still, I blamed it on other people for suggesting I do this or that; I blamed it on my family for advising me to do something that would make me more financially stable. BUT the thing is, I made those decisions. I’m the only one who can either learn to live with or correct those decisions. While admitting to my mistake(s) wasn’t always easy, realizing that I was the one who ultimately made the decisions that has brought me to a shitty circumstance, shows that I always had some control–and I still do.
So I made mistakes and took the wrong turns, but just as I brought myself into this unwanted situation, I can also get myself out.
You have the wheel. You’re in control.
3. Realize that you don’t always have to do it on your own.
When things are rough, I often alienate myself. I don’t talk about it with friends (heck, I’d even avoid my friends altogether).
I get so fucking caught up; I end up being too busy feeling sorry for myself to realize I have friends. While I am very far from being the perfect friend, I have spent hours upon hours listening to friends vent; I’ve also spent time helping friends out with problems. So why then, do I feel like my friends wouldn’t want to hear it? Why do I go on melodramatic moments of seclusion? Why the heck do I insist on feeling helpless and alone? Why do I often feel like I can’t be honest with my family–the people who have always had nothing but great hopes and intentions for me? Why do I act as if I go through the roughest patches on my own?
I can name so many instances when I was asked, “Why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t you ask for my help?” Because at the time, I hadn’t even thought about anything or anybody else but my tiresome circumstance; other times, I was just too proud to admit I couldn’t solve things on my own.
This might sound a bit too corny. Some might think, what kind of actual shit can someone in their 20s have experienced? The one time I asked for help, getting out of the sinkhole–that I had somehow managed to dig myself even deeper into–was one of the biggest turning points for me. I was a young, angsty 18-year-old and I made one bad turn after another. I woke up, barely sober and looked around. I don’t know what it was about that day or about that particular moment, but somehow I reached for my phone and sent my S.O.S which read something like: “I think I’m out of control and I need someone to talk to. Please call me.” To this day, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. You don’t always have to do it alone.
I wish I could say that this is it: the complete guide to traversing your premature midlife crisis. All you need to know about getting out of that treacherous rut, all wrapped and beautifully tied up in a bow. I wish I could end this with something conclusive or with some sort of resolution, but I can’t.
Every day has its set of challenges; every new dream come with hurdles; every decision, a consequence. I could wake up one day and find that I, have yet again, managed to fall into another rut. What I trust though is that I won’t be stuck there too long, and it won’t be the end of the world–because I won’t let it.