Why my quarter-life crisis was the best thing to ever happen to me.
Yes, you read that right! My quarter-life crisis (that involved the darkest, most difficult period of my entire life) was in fact, the best thing to ever happen to me.
And why am I telling you this? Because I'm assuming that you clicked into this post because you might be in some kind of life crisis or rut, and you're worried about how the hell you're gonna get out the other side of it intact.
I'm here to tell you why your life crisis could in fact be the best thing to ever happen to you too.
Imagine a marginally simpler time circa 2006. I was 25/26 and outwardly, my life looked super-set; I had my 'dream job' as a Graphic Designer with a great salary in a large agency – a job that I'd worked my tush off to get since I was like, 14. I owned a house that I'd decorated top to bottom, just the way I liked it. I had a nearly-new car that I loved and washed religiously every Sunday like she was my pet, and I was in a secure, long-term relationship. My family and friends were all fit and well too – but something just felt 'off'. At the time I couldn't pinpoint what it was, but it was hanging around like a bad smell all the same.
Living in denial
In retrospect, I knew exactly what was 'off', I just chose to ignore it and live in denial for pretty much two years, for two reasons; #1: I was petrified what might happen to my world if I made it 'real' by saying anything out loud to anyone. (You know that old trick of things or feelings not being actually real if you keep them to yourself? Well yep, that trick doesn't work. 🙋🏻 Living proof right here). #2: I was petrified what everyone might think of me for being so seemingly ridiculous when I seemingly 'had it all'. (When you've lived a lifetime of people-pleasing, it's preeeeetty hard to knock that habit on the head and not base all your life decisions on who's going to approve of what).
So what was 'off'?
Essentially 👉🏻 near on every single aspect of my life. All the big choices I made, may very well have made me happy at the time of making them, but was that happiness from pleasing myself? Or pleasing other people? 🤔 It slowly began to dawn on me that the life I was living, the life I'd created, wasn't my own, or what I wanted.
Not wanting to feel like a drama queen
But not wanting to kick up a fuss or come across as selfish or brat-like (read: code for people-pleasing in its full majesty), I chose to squish these feelings deep down into the depths and just plod along, pretending I was fine. Surely in me doing that, I at least get to feel 'normal' and like everyone else, right? And if I keep it up, these feelings would eventually just p*ss off to wherever they came from? Yes?
What happened instead was, after months and then years of suppressing my true feelings, I found myself in a very dark place as a result – depression.
Can things get any worse?
At the time, the depths of my depression felt never-ending if I'm honest, forget about seeing a flicker of light at the end of the tunnel, there wasn't even a tunnel. The notion of a tunnel meant there was a way out at some point. Instead it felt like being in an unclimbable pit with some immovable giant rock lid on it. I was trapped for what seemed like an eternity ahead, which obviously led to feelings of hopelessness and feeling like a complete burden on the people closest to me (the worst place ever for a people-pleaser too btw).
In amongst all of this, I was grieving three deaths really close to my heart which obviously forced me to really question my own mortality and wonder what the hell was happening in my life. I remember feeling at the time, could things actually get any worse? I don't remember a particular 'a-ha' moment where I decided I'd had enough. It does feel like a bit of a blur looking back. But I think when it came to the point that I felt like a complete dead weight on the people I cared about, I thought about how life would probably be easier for everyone around me if I wasn't around.
Thankfully for me, going to the depths of thinking in that dark a place was the shock I needed to pull myself out. It was at that point that I chose to see a therapist and work through this quagmire of emotions I'd squished down.
Fast-forward two years
Once I'd begun to work through all the stuff I'd buried, over the coming months I made some super-slow, but really steady shifts in my thinking. It was gradually starting to dawn on me that this life I had right in front of me, [*NEWSFLASH*] was in fact MINE. Yes people were going to give me advice, and if it was good, I could choose to follow it. But if that advice didn't happen to work for me, I. didn't. have. to. follow. it!
It was a revelation in lifelong-people-pleasing and adulting I tell ye!
The whole process also really empowered me to believe in and listen to my own gut instincts, and find the courage to take the bold steps to create the imperfect life that I saw in my heart, not stay in the comfort and familiarity of 'the perfect life' I was living out that I'd painted in my head.
So, yep – by 2008 I chose to end my secure, 12 year relationship (despite some people around me telling me I was crazy), I chose to sell my home and quit my 'dream job' and salary (despite some people around me telling me I was insane), I chose to move into my Dad's on the other side of the city and then decided to feck off to the west coast of America...by myself 😁 (despite some people around me telling me I was near-on bananas at that stage). Not for the faint-hearted may I add!
All were clearly quite drastic choices to make, and I'm certainly not recommending all these choices to you as a fix-all solution. The whole point is to encourage you to look inside yourself and really look at what it is that you want for your life. But for me, these drastic choices were all 100% necessary. I knew that I literally needed to wipe my slate clean almost, to begin to discover my imperfect life.
Fast forward 10 years
Now I'm sitting here writing this blog post to you, and boy oh boy, I've learnt soooo so much since then! That trip to the States that I ran away to? That just so happened to bring me to meeting my now-husband and father to my daughter 😍 I've been running a successful business for five years – a business that's so fulfilling because I get to use my strengths to actually help people and a make a difference in their lives, I've lived abroad in Dublin for eight years and I can truly say, I'm now living a life I'm truly in-love with. Of course it's imperfect and flawed and bananas too, but that's exactly how I want it. It's 100% mine and no-one else's.
More than that though, I wouldn't have any of it without my quarter-life crisis thrusting me into creating it. A life crisis trains you to listen to your gut; it educates you on what you will and won't tolerate; it pushes you to experiment and try new things to see what you really want. It helps you discover that you get to define your own version of success, and that success doesn't have to be, nor should it be, the same as anyone else's.
And that my friend, is why my quarter-life crisis was the best thing to ever happen to me, and why it could be for you too ❤️️ the discomfort and despair of it all simply forces you into finally finding the courage to be bold, and go forth in finding your happy. Unapologetically. Without it, I don't know where I'd be.
However, if you don't want to wait years and years for this clarity and contentment to unfold (like it took for me!); if you'd love some support through it all and not feel so alone; if you want to start taking action and responsibility, grab life by the balleos and start working toward seeking out the direction you crave – then I might just have something for you. If you're interested in hearing about my upcoming online course – The Imperfect Life® Designer, then pop your details in the form below to be added to the waitlist. It's a six week online course that distills down all the tricks, techniques and learnings I used in my own imperfect life journey, to help you create, and fall-in-love with, your very own.
By joining to the waitlist, you'll be the first to hear when enrolment opens! Exciting stuff right!? Squeeeee!!!👏🏻
Until next weekend ye lil' beaut 💋