Handling Life Crisis

Julian told me she is undergoing quarter life crisis. That's sad because at that age, life should be vibrant and full of hope. The original mid life crisis is known to be caused by many possible reasons or the combination of reasons such as realising a significant portion of life has passed, disruption or stagnation of career, grief due to passing of parents or friends, the fading of their youthful appearance, relationship issues, children leaving home etc.

Admittedly I recalled having gone through a similar experience as Julian, at around that age too. Stress and depression could occur like the mid-life crisis' situation in a different manner. When all peers moved in different directions after graduation, you feel yourself rooted on the spot, unable to make a decision where to go, feeling lost. 

Many a time, you wandered aimlessly. The feeling of 'crisis' comes when you stop and (think you) realised you haven't move. Thus the feel to move begins to overbear. The urge to achieve goals, to accumulate material or attain a certain status begins to overwhelm. When things aren't happening, the stress kicks in.

Anyone can find himself falling victim to this sense of helplessness. If the storytellers would have recorded the everyday lives of the the tortoise in Tortoise and the Hare or the life of David in David and Goliath, you will probably read how despair they are at certain period of life. Life is after all a reasonably long process, not a one-feat wonder.

"But Tortoise and David had their giant killing acts. I don't!"

Well, consider this. Winning the toto in Singapore is 1/8,145,060 of a chance. You exist because you won the race - with your own abilities - against the other 250 million competitors. That's 1/250,000,000 of a chance. That is overwhelming odds. On top of that - today - you have broken a personal best record of days being in this world. You're not too bad.

The life crisis experience is much amounted to how one measures success, how one defines their ideal situation of life. The craving for that self defined success and fear of the failure manifested from that idea of success often froze us into inaction. Then the frustrations followed.

As a new parent, I observe my baby intently. With no education required, a baby, toddler or child experiments and learns instinctively. Through aggressive experimentation, it affirms or refute their perception and form new perspectives. If a child unable to overcome the fear of falling, he'll never walk. Each experiment is the result of conquering fear. That is how they learn rapidly and often better their parents in time, until they allow themselves fall into the same web of uncertainty their parents fell victim to.

We should be willing to unlearn and relearn like a child. Manage fears by identifying the situation in clarity - not generalising. Fear is a device in place to protect ourselves from harm. However fear has no judgement. It does not tell you what you can or cannot achieve. It simply tells you what happens if you fail. Only by stepping beyond the cloud of fear that engulfs us, we can take a further step to assess the situation in detail, then we can marginalise assumed risks that doesn't exist. Then take on the rest of it in a calculated manner. 

There you go, on another life adventure. Bon voyage.


  1. This describes what I'm going through now. Nice entry!

  2. "Manage fears by identifying the situation in clarity - not generalising"

    You get it. A lot of others don't.

  3. A strange prevention for quarter-life crisis, is to have gone through bad times leading up to graduation / finally transiting from full-time student to worker.
    The trials and tribulations just to finish university acts as a deterrent for the feeling of confusion at such critical junctures in life.

    I attracted problems for myself, running up to and going past quarter-life.
    By the time I finished university, I'd almost messed up my honours year because my supervisor doubted my competence.
    Before that, I chose to leave a relationship of almost 5 years, so that she could continue with her cousin, actually her first love since childhood.

    Before that, I almost screwed up my final (3rd) year exams by almost ending up irrevocably late for a paper.
    Before that, I almost got charged in the army, during my 1st-year vacation finishing the last 3 months of my disrupted service, because I returned late for a Sunday morning exercise, having done my morning prayers first.

    Before that, I inexplicably, unwittingly bungled (it's called 'super-blur') the selection of subjects I chose to study on university admission, until I almost ended up with what I could not.
    Before that, I suffered through over 2 years of army national service 'condemned'.

    Before that, I felt my 'A' levels were such a disaster, it was a wonder I even made it to university.
    And before that, I felt I was such a flop in junior college because everyone was going off in couples, and thought I was a destined loser to always go off alone.

    No, I'm not trying to waste anyone's time with a sob story.
    I'm reminded of that funny little story in which a daughter writes to her father, saying that she's flopped college, run off with a bad boy, and gotten herself pregnant.

    Turns out it was all a joke, just to console her dad that she only did badly in a term paper.
    Life does not have to be that frightening, when people have to weather far, far worse, and yet come out cheerful and shining.

    So if I have not offended anyone intolerant yet, allow me to humbly offer this as a weird form of encouragement.
    Personally, my youth of one mini-disaster after another has given way to a far more peaceful (some might even say boring) and fulfilling middle-age, surrounded by my still-young family.

    Life is much more fun these days, because I live through my mid-life crisis all the time.
    All my sincere, heartfelt best to Julian! :-)

  4. Thanks Alan.
    Although i don't quite agree that prevention is to go through bad times. I think everyone faces the "crisis" a different way at different time. I've had my fair share of bad times leading to universtiy too. but that did not determine that i will not face with the quarter life crisis, or rather am facing it now. Or perhaps let's just forget about this crisis thing as it starts to sound too serious.
    I live through the day with hope and i look forward for opportunities. soon, i'll live through it. and eventually others live through it too despite how good/bad times can be.

  5. That's the spirit, Jules!
    I believe that's -asingaporeanson-'s message, and mine too. :-)