Because with age comes lessons to be learnt.

Sometimes, I wonder if the term ‘wanderlust‘ is more of a disease than an ideal; a condition that strickens the majority of us caught between keeping up with the day-to-day while struggling hard to fit in enough travel to nurse the soul; such that we are never truly happy until we are somewhere else.

It’s a first-world problem, it is; just like the Quarter Life Crisis which never really gained foothold until the new millenials came along. In this generation, we dramatize our (non)problems, make art and poetry and music out of pain. We want to stand out and yet blend in at the same time; and we want to make a difference – but only if it’s a popular one. We want validation, lots and lots and lots of it; and we want to be constantly reassured with hope that there is always something better and brighter for us.

Whether you are someone who has unknowingly walked yourself into a Quarter Life Crisis; or someone who just walked out of one (yay!), I hope you make some amazing discoveries along the way. After all, pain is only relevant if you learn something out of it. And if you don’t, well, I hope you learn from mine instead.

14 Truths You Learn Post-Quarter Life Crisis

1. NONE OF YOUR PROBLEMS ARE REAL. 
This is as condescending to you as it is to me, but our hurt little self-esteems don’t deny it from being the truth. I look back now and realize that if there was a line of similarity I could draw across all those obstacles and pitfalls and things I allowed to get me down over the past decade, it’d be that none of them were ever real.

‘Real’ in this context, of course, refers to something utterly life-threatening or even something that grims our basic physiological needs. (I said ‘physio-‘, not ‘psycho-‘; continue to leave your emotional baggage on the sidelines). Our problems may have brought us pain. We may have even kept ourselves up all night sobbing our way into the dawn. But as long as it doesn’t pose a risk to our bare necessities, it is most likely a first-world problem that can go away as easily as it crept up on you.

Remember, you choose what you give power to. Even your problems.

2. LIFE IS AS GOOD AS YOU ALLOW IT TO GET. 
It is very annoying to have someone tell you this, and the obvious response to any advice along this cliche-type route would be of course to put up a petulant sulk and be defensive about how ‘it’s easy for them to say’ or that ‘they wouldn’t understand’.

But one day, you’re going to wake up months away from 30 and realize that, really, nothing was stopping you from being happy. You, were stopping you from being happy when you chose to hold on to that woe-be-me attitude and turn it into a persona of sorts.

Self-pity is never attractive, boys and girls, no matter what age you are. People fall in love with smiles and sunshine, not depression and suicidal thoughts. Things can always be turned around – as long as you want it enough.

3. THERE ARE MANY THINGS IN LIFE THAT YOU HAVE – AND WILL CONTINUE TO HAVE- NO CONTROL OVER. 
As the venerable Buddha once said, “In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved; how gently you lived; and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.”

And if you’re of faith, then keep this in heart: Be brave enough to let God will. 

That said…

4. INCIDENTALLY, THERE ARE ALSO A FEW THINGS IN LIFE YOU DO HAVE CONTROL OVER.
The trick is in differentiating between the two.

As the infamous Lady Rochford once scoffed in Wolf Hall, “God dealt her a good enough hand, but she never knew how to play it.”

Learn to seize an opportunity when you see it, and learn to play your cards well.

5. LEARN TO TELL YOUR TOXIC FRIENDS FROM YOUR NON-TOXIC ONES – THEN KEEP THEM AT ARM’S LENGTH. 
The really unfortunate thing is, sometimes, you will have no idea of how toxic a person is for you until distance does the both of you apart… and then it all sinks in.

It’s not about being picky about who you keep around you; but negative influences can be detrimental to your emotional health -especially if you’re experiencing a quarter-life crisis; and the awful vibes from these people will do you more harm than good. You don’t have to severe ties with them, just ensure you don’t let them drag you down the same quicksand that they’re sinking into. You are not strong enough to save the both of you (you’re nursing an existential crisis, remember?).

(Post Note: Please also learn to differentiate between a perennial negative influence, and a friend who is merely going through a rough patch in life. Do not, abandon the latter. Once again, the trick is in knowing to differentiate the two, and one of them doesn’t want to be saved.) 

6. HAPPINESS IS A FLEETING MOMENT YOU SHOULDN’T TRY HOLDING ON TO. 
This may sound sad, but it really isn’t. What it means is that happiness comes and goes. And then comes again. You can’t say that you’ll never be happy again, the same way you can’t say that you’ll never be sad again. Think of it as an economic cycle – what goes up must come down. And the peaks and troughs go on and on forever.

Don’t chase happiness. Seek contentment instead.

7. LIFE IS NEVER GOING TO BE FAIR. DEAL WITH IT. 
Seriously. Deal with it, because this is either going to make you or break you as time goes on. Beauty, popularity, fame, money, career success; no matter where you are on any of these charts, there will always be millions of other people above you (just as how there are also millions of people under you, but no, we never pay notice to them). The profusion of ‘influencers’ in the socialsphere these days does nothing to help too, by the way. Everyone envies someone else. Everyone wants to be someone else.

Recently, I demanded of a younger, understandably more impressionable friend to unfollow a huge chunk of influencers on his social media list because he was constantly questioning life’s ‘fairness’ and why he didn’t have the things that everyone else did. Influencers are supposed toinspire you and make you want to do better things, not crumple up your self-esteem into a creased paper ball that you want to feed to the shredder. If the latter is how these pictures and posts make you feel, I’d suggest the same thing. Unfollow all these sources until you get a better sense of self.

And in the mean time, follow @fuckjerry to get better. (Note: I am in no way affiliated to @fuckjerry and this is not a paid advertisement. They just make me laugh, is all. And there’s way less crap on it than 9gag, which is actually what takes the cake.)

10. YOU WILL NEVER ACHIEVE FINANCIAL FREEDOM WORKING FOR SOMEONE ELSE. IT IS MATHEMATICALLY IMPOSSIBLE.
You can, however, dream of it by buying the lottery every week.

8. MANY PEOPLE WILL COME INTO YOUR LIFE AND SOME WILL LEAVE. DO NOT TRY TO KEEP ANYONE WHO DOESN’T WANT TO STAY. INSTEAD, ENJOY THEIR COMPANY WHILE IT LASTS.
Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and still lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room, and it means not being resentful when someone decides not to be part of your life anymore.

I really hate to throw out three quotes in a single post, but, “Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

You tell them, Joanna Weaver.

Live, and let live.

9. THERE IS NO STEEPER LEARNING CURVE THAN A BROKEN HEART.
It’s sad, but it’s true. Some nights, I lay in bed imagining scenes where I’m dressed in my perfect H&M Coachella dress with the asymmetrical skirt hem, about 5kg lighter with better skin and a more even tan; hurling acerbic comebacks at this specific person who’d caused much of my most recent heartbreak; and one of the things I imagine myself spitting out in a most flawless fashion is, “You’re a lesson I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.”

On better nights, I imagine the likes of Ricky Gervais and Jeremy Clarkson standing by the sidelines applauding my witticism. On worse, I make a mental note of every single reason why this person was never a good light for my soul, and I engrave it into every inch of my skin (Not literally! Keep those razors away.) so that I never fall into the same rabbit hole again.

Be brave enough to take the pain. Be brave enough to recognize a lesson when you encounter one, and label it as such. Nothing truly goes away until it teaches us what we’re supposed to know.

11. NEVER SETTLE FOR ANYTHING THAT YOU DON’T WANT. 
How is it that being alone can actually be better than being in a relationship? Ahh, but it can. One of the biggest mistakes I ever made in life was to be with someone I wasn’t in love with simply because I chose to settle; and one of my biggest non-mistakes was to not make that same mistake again when history repeated itself 6 years later.

Never settle, even if it means being alone.

12. TRAVELLING WILL GET YOU NOWHERE IF YOU HEART IS NOT WHOLE. 
Do not, travel with a broken heart. I cannot caution you that enough. It will ruin every single step of your journey along the way and every memory you hope to make. In fact, you will get nothing out of it and come back feeling worse of yourself.

Do travel if you want to use the time away to put things behind you and gain new perspective. But don’t if you’re intending to check in your emotional baggage along with your standard 15kg one.

13. BE GOOD TO THOSE WHO MATTER TO US.
Don’t flatter yourself to think that being close to someone automatically gives you the green light to be a little more hurtful or disagreeable in the things you say to them; or that it authorizes you to be a little more quick-tempered or impatient. In fact, the closer you are to a person, the more you should love with politeness and courtesy; not careless, lackadaiscal tactlessness.

14. YOU DO HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS- THE QUESTION IS WHETHER YOU WANT TO KNOW. 
I really hate it when I have the answers, and Selena Gomez probably feels the same way too. She might have told the whole world that the heart wants what it wants; but look what she listened to in the end. (RIP, Jelena.)

Listening to your head won’t make you feel any better, but know that it is always right because, well, because that’s where God placed your brain. There are some decisions in life that are incredibly difficult to make and we don’t always get the best options or even be in the best positions to make some of these decisions. But if you listen to your heart, sometimes, you end up ignoring a lot of red flags and walking into a lot of trouble.

I’ve come to realize that, before every big problem I’d ever created for myself, before every huge mess that I’d then had to spend months, sometimes even years, cleaning up after; there was always a crucial moment before each thing happened where I could have
just
said
no.

When your head is trying to tell you something, always, listen.