Sunday, January 25, 2009

My Quarter Life Crisis

For the longest time, I had a "life plan," that I obsessed over almost daily. It was basically a little piece of paper that I would project my future plans onto and the things I needed to do to accomplish my goals, so that I could follow my dreams.

While in college, I felt I had the world in my hands. I pushed myself hard and earned the G.P.A I wanted upon graduation in the amount of time I had set for myself. I crammed the average 6 years of schooling into four years, worked part-time, and somehow, still managed to earn my dream G.P.A. It made me feel that my "life plan" had been working exactly as I believed it would. My life plan would help me build the future of my dreams!

Eventually, however, confusion set in and I suddenly began to become a ball of misery, as I faced many challenges. I felt completely lost in life and began the first wave of my quarter life crisis. I was stressed out and all I knew was that I needed to accomplish the goals I had set out to finish before 25, according to plans. I felt that there were so many things I needed to do prior to 25 because if not, I would be "too old." The pressure was on as I continued to push myself towards my goals, but it seemed that no matter what I did or how hard I tried, I remained in my current situation.

As panic set in, I was in a rush to go after my dreams. But in the process, I learned that there is more to life than following a structured pathway to your ideal life. While I may have loved structure and the security of my life plan, I soon learned the incredible feeling of being able to let go and be spontaneous - to live in the moment. Since then, life truly has been an adventure.

I have tried things I never would have had the courage to do previously. I joined a talent agency for fun and had the opportunity to be an extra for a McDonald's commercial. Although you can only see half my face for about 2 seconds, I was proud to have had the chance to experience something unique. I also had the opportunity to do a photo shoot for the Air National Guard! At the photo shoot, I was able to get my first autograph from country singer, Laura Bryna (see photo, left). It was a great experience!

I also enrolled in ballet and began taking yoga, cardio kickboxing, and Zumba, a dance fitness class. All have been an incredible experience and definitely an eye-opener. I never imagined how difficult ballet could be, but it truly gave me respect for those who are able to become professional dancers. It's no joke! Ballet is rough.

I started taking Indonesian language again too. I loved learning about South East Asia in college and continuing the language after graduation has been pricey, but well worth the cost. I can't wait to visit the country!

Instead of saying "no" to opportunities because of my fears or lack of confidence, I go for many new opportunities because I know that they can lead to incredible experiences that I may cherish for a lifetime.

When I was invited to a formal party recently, instead of being shy, I decided to attend. I danced to my hearts content that night, even though I was hesitant at first. At the end of the party, I was basically the only one left on the dance floor. It may have looked incredibly embarrassing to on lookers especially since I have two left feet, but it felt great! I had a really good time.

The day after Christmas, I went hiking with my husband and friends. We hiked up the mountainside, making our own path where we saw breathtaking views of the ocean from a cliffside. I am terrified of heights, but scaling the mountainside over boulders ended up being awesome. I have no other words to describe it. Afterwards, we headed out to eat lunch and of all people, President Obama happened to be at the Koko Marina Shopping Center with his family. If I stayed home, I wouldn't have ever experienced all the events of the day!

This past weekend, my husband and I decided to visit Kauai. It was on a whim, but one of the best 3 day weekends ever. We saw Waimea Canyon, hiked up the Kalalau trail, and more. The highlight of the trip was when we rode a Navy seal style raft with Kauai Sea Tours and saw the Na Pali Coast. During the tour, we saw breaching whales, packs of spinner dolphins, and green sea turtles. The Na Pali Coast is also incredibly beautiful and being in a raft made it all the more fun, although it was an extremely rocky ride. Your body will pay for it the following day!

Besides having fun, I truly believe in self-improvement. Math and public speaking are two of my greatest weaknesses. I signed up for math and finished up my last class -- pre-cal -- during the summer. I also joined Toast Masters to improve my public speaking skills. My first speech is tomorrow! The nerves started kicking in yesterday.

While I still continue to work at my high-stress job, I've learned to manage stress. I've made wonderful friends at work and have learned so much. Although I was initially in total misery, I now know that you can take a difficult moment and turn it into something positive. If it wasn't for my job, I might not have felt the need to explore my life, but because of it I have had the chance to learn more about myself. That doesn't mean I don't want a new job because I'm definitely looking! However, i am grateful for being able to gain something positive out of such a difficult experience and of course, to also have a job.

Now, I am thinking of directing my career towards something less ideal, but more fitting to my personality. I am not 100% sure what I want to do, but I'm happy anyway. On Saturdays, I tutor ESL students and it has been a fulfilling experience. I also volunteer for other events too. It allows me to learn more about what I may want to do in the future.

During the first phase of my quarter life crisis, I was a train wreck waiting to happen. However, as time passed, I soon realized it was a blessing in disguise. I used to put enormous amounts of pressure on myself to "succeed," but I now realize how important it is to live in the moment and to work towards your goals with patience and perseverance. Life is a journey and taking the time to live your life the way you want is much more important than rushing to get to your ideal destination. In fact, in the process, you may discover that the life you always thought you wanted may be nowhere near the life you actually desire.

For the lucky ones who know exactly what they want, they are very fortunate. However, for those of you who feel the same way I do, let life happen to you.

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