The pursuit of happiness and quarter-life crisis

I turn 25 today.

There, it is … the infamous quarter-life crisis.

Turning 25 is an interesting experience of sorts. For starters, I have graduated from university, am happily employed (thank you, you know who you are), and am in the midst of starting a candle-making business. I have fallen in love, and out of it. And right now, I might have found a foot on the love boat. I have travelled places too. Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, Australia, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Japan. I mulled over all these experiences over lunch and realised that I have done so much, and yet it all seems so little.

When I was a child, I remember imagining what life might look like in my mid-20s. I pictured myself as a successful businessman, one who raked in millions and would order anything off the menu without batting an eyelid. I pictured myself with a dog and maybe a wife. I imagined myself leaving the nest and having a space of my own. Needless to say, being 25 now is a world away from those imaginations; I am neither attached nor successful and most certainly not in my own space.

Being in my 20s is like being in a juicer. There is a lot of churning going about. Sure there is some navigation amidst the doldrums. But really, there is a lot of figuring things out. Just recently, I was up late researching credit cards and managed to snag one with the right freebies (Yay, adulting).

Being in my 20s is also about being insecure. When you look at the acquaintances you know and realise that many of them are so so talented, you cannot help but feel ‘jaded’. You also struggle to compete. Not with others, but with yourself. In the process of accruing accomplishments, you may feel like an imposter, like you are not good enough. You compare your physique with others and learn how to deal with it. You compare the allowance you take home, the benefits you snag from your job, and even how busy you are in a typical week. There is no stopping. It just snowballs.

The thing about being a young adult is that you are fixated on hitting milestones. I have seen friends getting BTOs. I have seen friends moving out and living on their own. I have witnessed acquaintances achieving financial security or swiftly climbing the corporate ladder. This phenomenon, this fixation, is intriguing. I would like to think we are hard-wired that way.

Being in my 20s during the pandemic has been tiring. The lack of in-person interactions in the office is stifling, especially for new hires. To be a youth is to be free and to be well-connected. The lack of large get-togethers leaves much to be desired. Time spent in an anonymous crowd, like in a club or a festival, is likely time well spent. Life has been disruptive of late. I do not like it, but I will live it.

Today is the oldest I have ever been and the youngest I will ever be again. My life has been rewarding, my bucket list is barely filled and fulfilled, my career has just begun. If life ends tomorrow, I will not be okay.

I am excited about what is to come. I want to grow. And trust me, I will.

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