Ever since I grew into the moody little sparkplug of twelve or so, I’d always have the same wish when I blew out the candles on my birthday cake: “To be happy.”
Vague, right? But, I figured, if I were just happy, everything else in my life would magically fall into place. Woo hoo! Happiness fairy! Thank you for finally granting my wish! Now I am truly alive!
Yep. Not how life works, much to the chagrin of my naïve young self.
I wouldn’t say I lived an unhappy life, just unconscious. Unaware of who I was or what I wanted, and therefore, unable to even begin to understand my happiness. I didn’t have my priorities worked out, because that required introspection. To just exist, glide along, and fill the societal-defined mold of “success” as I had done, doesn’t really require any inner work.
The ability to Do-What-I-Want and Live-My-Best-Life didn’t exist in my mind, when obligations to grades or career responsibilities were more valued than taking time to explore the concept of passion and authentic happiness.
Happiness, for me, is a choice to be passionate rather than stoically blindly driven towards someone else’s vision of success.
Last year, I left on a post-college freedom fighting tour of the country, seeking to do only things that made me happy. It was amazing. I had time to breathe, and be introspective, and get the butterflies you can only get from fully immersing yourself within your passions and experiencing complete happiness.
But I hit a wall. Enter: Quarterlife Crisis.
Or, several months of optimistically flipping from “ah, I’m a snowboarder and a traveler and I’ll start a business and be free to do whatever I want!” and “life is awesome and full of happiness. I can just keep on livin’ on the fringe and do what I love.” to “holy shit I am a complete failure!” and “If one more jackass drinks 8 diet cokes with their Applebee’s Fiesta Lime Chicken dinner I will bring a samurai sword to work!”
(Oh, hi, by the way, I am kind of crazy. In an endearing way.)
I was successful in defining my happiness and dreams, but achieving them with a minimum wage job sucks. Turning towards a responsible life: well… but… I DID that already…and it definitely didn’t feel authentic. Yet something was still missing from my life.
There is a part of me that loves to dance like crazy, jump off cliffs, laugh far too loud than any situation will demand. That feeling I get snowboarding deep powder or lifting off in a trans-continental jet or (well, there is a lot, I will spare you). These things make me happy. They are my passions; they make me feel alive.
On the flip-side, I have deep sense of responsibility. Not the lame “oh, I must make money to put in my 401K” but a sense that I have something to contribute to the world (other than awesomely-bad dance moves). And just thinking about following through on this, makes me feel even more alive.
I know what makes me happy, and I now know how to have it. But my mission has evolved to more than be happy but rather to define, create, and live out loud, a completely authentic life.
I’m a person of extremes. Driven, passionate, and hopelessly dramatic. Since I don’t actually plan on living in Crazytown forever, finding balance is super important. Actually, I am working on my Joy Equation this month and have declared BALANCE one of my Core Values!
This Quarterlife Crisis revolves around finding balance in the far edge of extremes. In creating a life where it’s okay to live completely, authentically as yourself. Sometimes that means cliff jumping and hiding out on a secluded beach for weeks on end. But other times it’s about contribution, of the mind and heart, to something greater, evening if that something greater is simply being the best person you can be, and sharing that with your world.