For you to truly understand what the Quarter-Life Revolution is all about, I feel the need to share the story of my personal quarter-life crisis that left a dark cloud over my life from the time I was 23 until I eventually hit rock bottom at 27.
You see, learning how to adult in your 20s is a really complicated process. No matter how good you were at school, nobody teaches you how to assert yourself in a healthy way or how to make tough decisions that will ultimately impact the rest of your life. You are left to figure this stuff out all on your own. Depending on how well your childhood equipped you to deal with things like bad relationships or shitty jobs, you might feel stuck in a situation that is slowly killing you with no idea what to do next.
My quarter-life crisis is a long one, but I think it is important to share for you to get a sense of who I am and what I’ve been through. We have all been through something difficult and survived to tell our tale. It is important to own your story, and share it with others who might need your help.
So stick with me as I share my struggles and the lessons I learned along the way. I’m breaking this down into three parts, but it’s still pretty long. Let’s do this.
My Quarter-Life Crisis
When I was 22 I met a guy and fell hopelessly in love. The only problem was he wanted more of a friends with benefits type of situation. I pretended to be ok with this for waaaaaaay too long. Eventually he ditched me to get back with his ex and I was left to drown in a pool of my own tears.
Sadly, this did not lead to me getting over him. But instead, left me lusting after him even stronger than before. For some reason I just couldn’t shake this guy. No matter how clear he made it that it was never going to happen between us.
Fast forward several months later and I am finally starting to be reasonable and move on with my life. Then bam. He comes in out of the blue and actually wants me. So we date a few months until he randomly breaks up with me a few months later.
So this time I definitely learned my lesson, right? Wrong. He always found a way to come back into my life just long enough to keep me wanting him, but never long enough to make an actual commitment.
Over time I actually became content with the fact that we would never really be together and accepted the situation for what it was. With zero expectations I became more relaxed and I guess he actually started to enjoy spending time with me. Looking back, it was probably just a textbook case of wanting what you can’t have. As my lust for him began to fade, his interest in me only grew stronger.
Then we decided to move in together. Crazy, I know. But it was logical, I promise… We moved in as roommates, not as a couple. We technically weren’t dating. We were just two broke millennials who enjoyed spending time together and didn’t think it seemed like such a bad idea to save a couple dollars on rent and electricity.
The Day I Thought My Life Was Over
I’ll be honest, I knew it was a terrible idea to move in with him. But I did it anyway. I figured I had already invested so much time and energy into him over the past two years that I owed it to our relationship to see if we could make it work.
It only took two days of living together when I realized just how big of a mistake I had really made. I didn’t have a private space to have a breakdown so I hid in the shower and cried the hardest I have ever cried in my entire life.
In that moment I knew my life was over.
I wanted out, but we had just signed a one year lease. I couldn’t afford an apartment on my own. And there was no way in hell I was going to admit I made a mistake.
So I put on a brave face and decided to fake it till I make it. It took one month then he told me he loved me. I didn’t love him, but I said it back anyway.
I wanted to hear those words from him for so long. Why now? Why after I’m living in my own personal hell?
As the months went on I slowly began to fall apart.
The sad truth is I had no idea who I was without this relationship. The only thing that scared me more than staying was having to start completely over with nothing.
Fast forward four-months later. After staying up all night celebrating NYE we had just got home and were getting ready for bed at like 6 AM. In the spirit of the New Year, we were talking about our future and he says “we should get married.” I already felt like I had dug myself into a hole that I would never be able to get out of so I agreed.
At this point, I just assumed this was a random conversation that we would barely remember the next day. Boy was I wrong. He went to dinner with his parents a few days later and told them we were getting married. Then he started telling his friends that we were engaged. Everyone was excited. Except me.
I didn’t talk to my parents for five months until my birthday in May because I didn’t want to tell anyone what was going on. I felt trapped and I had no idea how to get out.
The Breaking Point
The resentment continued to build until the point that I could no longer hold it in. I reached my breaking point on the day I got so angry with him that I threw the iron barely missing him breaking it completely in half.
I needed help. I started going to therapy because I had convinced myself that something must be wrong with me, and I needed to be fixed. I wouldn’t admit to anyone that the relationship was the problem.
I spent the first few months learning new skills and trying to apply them to the relationship thinking that would make things better. It did help a little, but it couldn’t solve the fact that I was engaged to a man that I didn’t want to marry.
I think it is important to note that during this time he got really sick. Like couldn’t go to work for almost three months kind of sick. I was the only one bringing home a paycheck so I felt even more responsible to stay around to take care of him and pay the bills.
See that was the biggest problem during this whole situation. I felt like I had to take responsibility for everything that was happening to me. I’ve always been an extremely loyal person. I had made a commitment and I needed to honor that. Even though it was slowly killing me.
The Light at the End of the Tunnel
Therapy was finally starting to work when I was introduced to the concept of self-care. I started meditating, and, for the first time, my attention shifted inward. This is when everything finally began to change. I started to value myself and began to build confidence in myself as a person outside of the relationship. But I was still too afraid to tell anyone that I wanted out.
By this point, we already had a deposit on a venue. I had a wedding dress, and we were starting to pick out our invitations. The wedding was less than six months away. There was no way I could back out now.
The only silver lining was that our lease was going to be up in less than two months. So I knew I needed to make a decision soon or I would be trapped forever. But I still didn’t feel ready to turn my life upside down.
I started to image my life with him. I always knew I would eventually leave, but I always pictured it far off in the future when I would finally feel ready. I started to think that we could be married for five years then get a divorce and I would still be young enough to have a “good life”. Seriously. WTF was wrong with me.
Luckily, a few days later, he pissed me off so bad that I couldn’t take it anymore. I went to my therapy session and for the first time out loud I told my therapist I didn’t want to be with him. I had a plan, and I was ready to take action. I went home that day, packed my suitcase, and told him I was leaving. I stayed at my sister’s house for a few days while I figured out what I was going to do. I got online and applied for the first apartment I could find in the hip part of town I always wanted to live in. I got a call back, scheduled a viewing, and signed the lease two days later.
I wish I could say that this was the end of my quarter-life crisis, but it only gets worse. Much worse.
Stay tuned for Part II of my story.