Shortly before I turned 24, I looked in the mirror one day and – gasp – I found a gray hair. And not just one – a whole family of them! This was the catalyst that set off what I dubbed as my quarter-life crisis. Despite my mother’s laughter, the quarter life crisis is a common phenomenon, and here are four ways I (mostly) overcame mine.
1. I found a hobby.
For me, this was in the unlikeliest of place – the gym. I don’t like to sweat, I don’t like cardio, and I really don’t like exerting any more energy than I have to (but really, who does?). But sitting at a desk 8+ hours a day isn’t the healthiest lifestyle. It took trying every class my gym offered before I found something tolerable, and dare I say, something I even liked. And once I found that class, working out became the thing that kept me sane.
And, hey, losing a few pounds never hurt anyone’s mood.
2. I changed jobs.
This was probably the most necessary – and scary – part of overcoming my quarter life crisis, but it was the first step to getting where I wanted to go. I liked my job, I liked the people, and I was comfortable... but I wasn’t moving in the direction I wanted to move in. Finding a new job helped me feel like I was moving forward, rather than staying stagnant.
3. I changed cities.
For me, this change meant moving back to my hometown. But I hadn’t lived full-time in that city for nearly 7 years, so I might as well have been moving to a strange town. The move forced me to step out of my comfort zone and meet new people – both of which are crucial to overcoming a quarter life crisis. If you can't move, try to make your city or town feel new. Go meet new people and do new things.
4. I let things go.
I had to let go of the fact the picture-perfect plan I created for my life didn’t pan out, and, most importantly, accept that this wasn’t a bad thing. I couldn’t see it at the time, but I can see clearly now how every challenge, every job, and every person I met post-college played a role in where I am now. And ultimately, they're getting me where I want to go.
Two years later, I’m almost 26, and some days, overcoming my quarter life crisis is still a work in progress. Maybe I’m still not where I want to be, but I’m where I need to be. And that's what's really important.
Samantha Smoak is a journalist turned tech PR pro based in Nashville, Tennessee. For dog pictures and sports jokes, follower her on Twitter and Instagram @samanthaksmoak.