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By Hilda Tizeba

So there you are, probably just from reading your hundredth rejection email from several job applications, or not gotten the funding from the investor you hoped would be interested in your new business idea, or just browsed through your instagram account and saw the millionth couple post their seemingly happy ever after! And you’re just there. Feeling like you’re not exactly going anywhere in life. You’re literally running out of fake smiles and “am fine’s” to give. You’re feeling anxious about what the future holds and there’s this ever-looming cloud of sheer uncertainty. Welcome to the utterly exhausting life of the millennial!

Most of us probably know what the mid-life crisis is, where we probably envision grey-haired or bald senior citizens people trying to do things that society deems as “ strictly for the youth” in an attempt to feel good and get their groove back. Lol. But then there’s also the quarter life crisis. The quarter life crisis probably begins around your early twenties to early thirties. The quarter life crisis seems abstract, but it's actually quite real! The quarter life crisis and the struggles that come with it are so vividly real!

The quarter life crisis is filled with anxiety, societal pressure, self-doubt and the urgent need to achieve certain things before a certain period of time. It’s like there’s this invisible “to-do list’ that your mind has been pre-conditioned to expect to have  fulfilled  within a given time frame. Failure to achieve these things in your  to do list makes a person feel anxious, constantly panicking about the future, dissatisfied with the little milestones and achievements they’ve made in their own life and constantly comparing themselves to others. It’s a tough place to be.

In addition, social media, society and titles like “This and that under 30”, or “Best bla bla bla” under 25” do not make it any easier. While these awards and titles may have the good intention of motivating young people to become  more visionary and ambitious, they also have an insidious hidden message within them; and that is, you are supposed to achieve certain things by a certain age, or rather have attained certain things at a certain age (in their case the younger the better). It’s like the earlier and younger you achieve these things the more they are deemed worthy and impressive.

Growing up and adulting is hard enough. I don’t think anyone needs a constant reminder of what they must have or must have achieved at a certain age or period in their life. We are all different, our journeys, pathways and detours are different. Some people get to the finish line with little to no obstacles, others have to jump through a lot of hurdles to get to the same finish line.

So how does one navigate their way through life and the quarter life crisis without reaching the brink of insanity or without being a complete emotional wreck?

Constantly tell yourself positive affirmations.

I used to be one of those people that considered all this affirmation stuff completely cheesy and somewhat superficial, until I tried it and realised that it actually does help! The aim of positive affirmations are not only to jumpstart your day with a positive attitude, but to also eradicate negative self-talk that wreck havoc on your mental health and just worsen the feelings experienced during the quarter life crisis. We are often our own biggest critics and make mountains out of molehills. That negative self-talk is just nasty, please don’t do it. I know it’s easier said than done, but let us learn to be much more compassionate and kinder to ourselves through the way we talk to ourselves.

Make a list of the things you have accomplished, no matter how small.

When you’re on the run and have this big array of dreams and ideas that you want to achieve, you may have the tendency to get really impatient. This impatience can have you feeling as if you’re not doing anything at all and you just feel stuck. But learn to make a habit of journaling all the things you have accomplished, no matter how small. If possible, make an inventory of all the things you have managed to get done during the week and you’ll slowly realise just how far you have actually come. It will slowly release the feelings of inadequacy or feeling like you just aren’t doing enough.

Remember that comparison is the thief of joy.

The temptation to compare ourselves to our peers and what they’ve accomplished and the dazzling lives that they are living is just too good to resist. We all have people that we look up to and wish we had what they had, but it’s important to realize that we are all different. I know, way easier said than done. But the thing is, not everything is what it seems to be. Especially now with the age of social media, people have become experts at highlighting what they wish their lives could be like, instead of what their lives are ACTUALLY like. Nobody posts the countless nights they’ve cried themselves to sleep, the rejection letters, the broken hearts and the smiles they’ve had to fake. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, accept yourself and your life for what they are right NOW.

Learn to embrace acceptance.

The serenity prayer comes to my mind when I write this. “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference! Like honestly, I’ve realized that every time I felt overwhelmed about something it is because I wasn’t letting things take their natural course. There is something I just didn’t want to accept. Acceptance NOT passiveness is key. Try your best to get something done, but it reaches a point when you must accept if something is no longer serving you.

Develop the spirit of a rebel

Rebel against societal standards, pressures and external opinions of what your life must be like or look like. You are the owner of your life, take charge of the driver’s seat and move in the direction that you want to go. So what if everybody else thinks you must have this or that? Is it what YOU want, or are these just things that society is pressuring you to seemingly want?

If you had a genie suddenly appear and want to  grant you three wishes, would you genuinely request the things that you think you want (and all the responsibility and challenges that come along with them) at THAT particular moment? Most likely not. The biggest form of rebellion in a society where everyone expects you to conform is to live your life the way YOU want to live it! So go on, be a rebel and protect your mental peace!

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Hilda Tizeba
Written by

Hilda Tizeba

I am a lecturer and the CEO and Founder of a mental health organisation called Guided Path. I strive to eliminate stigma through education, advocacy and utilising the law to bring forth meaningful policy and legal reform in the mental health sector in Tanzania.

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