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Two months before my 27th birthday I started to feel lost, anxious, and panicked. My friends back in China were getting married, having babies, and settling down with a job in a city. From WeChat moments to Facebook statuses, they appeared to be enjoying their lives so much. Whereas I was doing my doctoral study alone in a distant country, with no job promised, no family around me, no great sense of achievement, and an unpromising relationship. Approaching the number 27 ahead of me it looked scary, flashing like a huge countdown sign of failure. I had no motivation to get out of my bed and no interest in cooking or eating. Then I found out about the Quarter-Life Crisis.
Allan Patrick wrote this about the crisis: “I’m desperate to hold onto the youth I feel slipping through my fingers, yet I want nothing more than the fabled stability adulthood brings. It’s a gut-wrenching feeling of fear, uncertainty, and an overwhelming desire for everything to just ‘be okay,’ even though I don’t know what that means yet.” It sounded just like me.
I stopped torturing myself with unrealistic ideas and finally took the courage to get out of my relationship. But the pain of the quarter-life crisis didn’t end just like that. The confusion and anxiety come back from time to time, and this is likely to last over a few months or even years. But I am starting to accept myself as being older and surrounded by the uncertainty of life. Time is unstoppable, but it cannot stop me from being stronger. I’m not what I’m doing or what I’m about to achieve. I need to be patient with myself and enjoy being now and here even if it means nowhere.