It’s an insightful phenomena, taking the road less traveled, only to wind up as lost as everyone else at the quarter century mark of life.
To imagine, as did I, that our unique experiences as young adults steer us toward clarity by our mid-20s often proves true only in Hollywood fiction.
We may find ourselves in crisis mode, asking a myriad of questions about past, present, and future decisions, wondering whether a traditional path would have delivered centeredness. The ego-driven struggle of a quarter-life crisis prevails. The overwhelming question of “what’s next” comes up again and again.
Growing up, 25 years old struck me as the golden age.
I had imagined that by the time I reached it, my worldly progress and spiritual life would come together to form a picture-perfect me.
I believed that my struggles as a young person would culminate in some sort of life togetherness by my mid-20s. I’d have a college degree under my belt, a Sex and the City style apartment, a well-paying job with a looming promotion, weeknight wine and cheese dates with girlfriends, a hybrid Lexus for weekend satsang (spiritual meetings with like-minded seekers), a lean yoga body, weekly Whole Foods shopping sprees for dinner parties galore and a committed relationship.
I’d imagined myself living the new age 25-year-old American dream.
In my head, it seemed not only possible but destined. In fact, spirituality and the Course in Miracles tells us that we create our own reality, don’t we? So, of course it would be so.
In early September, my imagination met real life.
As I arrived at the gateway of my 25th birthday, rather than celebrating the oh-so-wonderful life progress I’d made (which, mind you, was quite different from my aforementioned visions), I found myself in excruciatingly painful self-reflection. I noticed not how comfortable the daily routine had become, but rather how much it exhausted me—the bills, constant stress about the insignificant, the results-driven outcome needed in my workplace, the difficult but responsible choices, the struggle to stay beautiful, the efforts to ensure a consistently high bank balance, and so on and so forth.
I seriously considered dropping everything to run away to a beachfront yurt for the rest of my life (somewhere far away so the IRS wouldn’t be able to find me).
But really would that have changed anything?
In the Awaken Children series of spiritual teachings for her disciples, Amma says:
“A person who runs away from life is not fit to be a spiritual seeker. That is why Krishna did not let Arjuna (in the Indian scriptural text: Bhagavad Gita) run away from the battlefield. Life is a battle. It is not something to be avoided. Furthermore, you cannot avoid it. What will you do to avoid it? You may run to the Himalayas, or to a forest, or to an Ashram in order to escape from life. But life will follow you there as well. Just as you cannot run away from death, you cannot run away from life. Wherever you go, death follows. Wherever you go, life also follows. You cannot avoid either; you can only transcend them.”
Having said that, I do not claim to have an answer for an emerging quarter life crisis, as I’m still navigating mine.
Yet, I am happy to share a few insights that dawned from the chaos of being 25 without having my sh*t as together as my “best case scenario.” These few points have truly shifted my perspective. I’m far from transcending everyday stress, but my ability to embrace the disorientation instead of allowing it to consume me continues to improve my overall state of mind.
1. Each moment is my life, and each one matters. Just as the adults in my life have told me for the past 25 years, time flies.
2. Continue doing the little things, because they do make a difference and impact the larger picture.
3. There is great wisdom to be found in confusion. Listen to it.
4. Asking myself the bigger questions regularly, once or twice a week, brings me back to my goals, hopes and dreams.
5. Slowing down life’s fast pace on a regular basis holds invaluable benefit. Yoga is transformative in this regard.
6. Taking a walk along the beach, taking an extra breath in Savasana, and photographing the intricacies of the trees I find so beautiful do truly bring me back to a clear mind.
7. Seeking contentment will lure me to places far and wide, and that’s cool.
8. Remaining open to taking exploratory leaps will be life-changing, as long as I recognize that no matter what I do or where I go, I’ll take my mind with me.
9. Cultivating gratitude, prioritizing self-care, and understanding the difference between the two is vital every day.
10. Seeking the lessons within the mundane will never prove baseless. There is a lesson in everything. I’ll continue looking daily.
11. Reading elephant journal articles to remember that I’m never alone with this stuff helps a lot! $13 is worth it.
12. Eating delicious food to thank my body for everything it’s doing for me will never get old. There is so much joy in food.
13. Remaining receptive to life as it is here, now, must be one of the secrets about which the sages speak.
I’ll touch base again at the mid-life crisis. Until then.
Author: Purnima Trifonova
Editor: Catherine Monkman