There’s a certain discontent that you can connect with others on. I spoke to a girl today for a long time about that feeling that something’s not quite right about the way things are happening in life at the moment.
We’d never had a conversation before, but we connected instantly on this topic. It’s a thing, this quarter life crisis of discontentment. It tends to make itself known after longer periods of immersive experiences markedly different to your everyday life. It might be after six months living overseas, or coming back from holiday. You start to realise that you were living life out of habit, that you weren’t really consciously choosing what you wanted to be doing with your life, and that all the choices were being made by the gods of chance and circumstance. Your choice of university degree, your family culture, or your friend group. These are powerful forces, both in terms of opening up your eyes and shutting them.
It’s a discontentment that stems from a core mechanism within both us as individuals, and society as a whole. On an individual level, it’s the idea of HABITS. We live significant proportions of our lives not out of conscious interest, but habit (read THE POWER OF HABIT by Charles Duhigg for more on this). Thus the oft cited tenets ‘Be Here Now’ and ‘Be Present’. Doing that, I think, makes you step out of how reactive lifestyle based on how you’ve done things in the past, and into a proactive lifestyle of awareness, motivation and excitement. On a social level, it’s the idea of CONFORMITY, or following the safe, well trodden channels of life in terms of schooling, employment, mortgages cars and all that jazz.
Back to that discontent. Once you start to realise that you’ve been living your life on autopilot for the past as-long-as-I-can-remember, out of habit, out of fear for trying something different, then that becomes a motivating force. It can be uncomfortable at first, because you’re changing your inertia, using new willpower muscles, and you’re splitting from the group. Discomfort all round. But then you start giving yourself permission to be more and more of who you want to be, who you actually are. (Note: i’m assuming here that who you actually are is the person that’s doing the things that’s most interesting and exciting to them, that allows them to feel vibrant and be engaged in the present. I feel that’s a nicer way to define yourself – by your passions and presence rather than your social labels or history)
And thus the quarter life crisis of discontent begins. It may come sooner for some, later for others, maybe late enough to be called a mid life crisis, or maybe never at all. If it does happen to you, that feeling of being confused, lost, generally unhappy with life or something you can’t quite put your finger on, good for you. It’s in your benefit to mull in and explore that weird, resistive feeling you have You’re at the beginning of the rest of your life. How do you figure out what to do? One of the million dollar questions with a million different answers. I can suggest this.
Get out of the framework that you’ve always used, the one that’s gotten you to the discontented place you’re in now. It’s one that’s acquired out of your culture – time, place, heritage. It’s definitely useful, but can make you unhappy when you rely on it AAAALLLLL THE DAMN TIME.
And feel more.
Learn your emotions. We tend to repress them This is a great compass to use, because it’s so inherently connected with your quality of life. When you get good enough at differentiating between the broad range and subtleties of your feelings, you stop acting out of impulse and more out of a grounded directed focus. Thus the tenet ‘Know Thyself’. They will serve you very well as a guide – arguably it’s the best guide you can have.
MEDITATING is great for this. Sit down, close your eyes, watch your mind settle, feel grounded and present, start to look at your feelings, and explore the fun ones.