Friday, April 10, 2015

Who I am

There is something I want to get off my chest. Being that I generally have a hard time opening up about my fears and insecurities, I thought this would be a safe medium for me to express my anxious thoughts. It’s impossible to not sound dramatic when I say this, but I’m in a bit of a crisis in my life, more specifically I’d like to call it the “quarter-life crisis”. I’ve been feeling extremely lost and confused about what my long-term life plans are and have felt this way for a long time now. Ever since freshman year of college, I worried about the unforeseeable future, and not knowing where I see myself 5, 10, or even 15 years down the line. I kept these flustering thoughts in the back of my head, and every once in a while, they would creep up on me and make me go into moments of panic and stress. But I reminded myself that I was in college, a place where people grow and find themselves, and where great opportunities are just around the corner. I convinced myself I had plenty of time to experience new things and discover my passion, so I chose not to dwell on the gloomy subject and made the best out of every moment in college. Being the stubborn optimist that I am, I said to myself that things would have a way of working themselves out and when the timing is right, I’ll have it figured out. Now three years later and only a few months away from my college graduation, I am in the exact same predicament as I was when I first started college; lost and confused, and haven’t the slightest clue about what I want to do with my life. 

Being a soon-to-be college grad means I get asked countless questions about my plans after graduation. What are you going to do after graduating? What sort of jobs are you looking into? Will you be living at home with your parents? My insides turn a little every time I think about my responses to these questions, because it reminds me of how close I am to going out into the real world. I admit that I’m the non-confrontational type; I tend to avoid conflicts and run away from my problems. When I sense trouble ahead, I either look the other way or find a way to avoid it. It’s not a healthy thing to do, but it’s what I’ve always done. So when these questions arise from time to time, I would feel apprehensive about my so-called crisis for a few days, and let myself be distracted by the daily things in my life. It wasn't until a couple of days ago that I realized the reason I've been feeling so down lately is that I’m emotionally unprepared for the next chapter of my life. I'm at such a crucial point in my life, yet I feel completely and utterly lost. Since I’ve been avoiding to address this crisis of mine, it’s affected my mood, which brings me back to finding an outlet to getting these uneasy feelings off my chest.

For someone who doesn't like to focus on the negatives and is rarely ever upset for more than ten minutes, it’s hard for me to talk about such a nerve-wracking topic. Part of me was reluctant to share, because putting my feelings into words made it all seem too real and too scary for me to grasp. I have the Internet to thank for giving me the courage to write about my anxious thoughts, as it all started when I was going through my long feed of blog posts the other day. I stumbled across a somewhat vague, yet relatable post from Christine, a Youtuber whom I've followed for a while now. In a rather personal post, she wrote about some of the things I myself have been facing, such as being at crossroads in life, and being distracted by our daily routine that we often forget to look at the bigger picture. Reading her "predicament" surprised me in a good way because her words were so raw and touched me on a personal level, thus revealing a sense of realness that made it easy for me to relate to. Though I’ve only known her on the Youtube front and admired her work from afar, reading her thoughts and feelings reminded me that we’re not so different, as we are all trying to find our places in life.

Coincidentally, within the same week, I was watching Youtuber Ingrid Nilsen’s March Favorite’s video, where she asked a powerful question: “Who are you?” As soon as I heard it, dots were connecting in my head and these three simple words had brought up all the unwanted emotions that I was trying hard to avoid. So many different answers can come from this short question, and I have no doubt each comes with a compelling story to tell. To answer the question "Who are you": I am a confused 21 year old, who will soon be graduating from college, and I feel hopelessly lost about what I want to do for the rest of my life. I’m the kind of person who holds onto every bit of that childlike wonder, and is always looking on the bright side. I tell myself to worry less, and do more as I try to find a place where I truly belong, both personally and professionally.

As if the blog post and the video weren’t clear enough signs from the universe telling me to face my problem, the day after, the post titled “I’m graduating college and I am absolutely terrified” from HelloGiggles popped up on my blog feed. From being this close to finishing a full-time education to feeling uncertain about the future, it’s like the writer read my mind and voiced all the thoughts that have been taking over in my head. This leads me to talk about my own version of how I feel about graduating college, which throws me right into my quarter-life crisis. Each day that passes puts me closer to going out into the real world, and boy, am I terrified. Aside from friends and family asking about my post-graduation plans, I constantly have my own set of questions going through my head. What am I going to do after I graduate? Am I going to have to move back home? How am I going to pay back my student loans? Then my optimistic self would come in and I would tell myself it’s okay to feel this way, and that everything will work out in the end. Of course, then I revert to my anxious state, and blame myself for being such a disappointment to my parents. It’s an endless cycle that always leaves me feeling torn, confused, frustrated.

I think the root to my quarter-life crisis is that I have been so accustomed to holding onto my identity as a student that I am unsure of what my next role will be, causing major anxiety. We all take on roles in this world. Whether you’re a mother, athlete, or entertainer, we belong to a category that has a set of pre-wired social standards. I’ve been raised with the idea that occupation defines us and shapes the path we go on. The thought of having to figure out what I plan to do for the rest of my life, and the possibility of being defined by the career path that I choose to take, is seriously terrifying. All my life I’ve spent in school and have done what has been expected from me, there were always assignments to complete and deadlines to meet in school. Frankly, I thought that as long as I did my work and played my role of a good student, I would be on the right track. Clearly, it’s not so simple. In my four years of college and living on my own, I’ve learned that life is a journey, filled with many trials and obstacles. In every challenge that we face, we become a little wiser and better at figuring out how this life thing works.

As I look back on Christine’s post, listen to Ingrid’s answer to the question “who are you”, and bring up the bookmarked article on graduating college, I realize that I’m not alone in this. Like Maya Angelou once said, “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.” Everyone is on a different path, but ultimately I think we are all searching for the same things, and trying to find our place in this world. Though I’m being pulled in all directions in terms of my future plans, I understand that it’s a process I have to go through. My journey has only begun, and being the true optimist that I am, I know that the bad, the good, and everything in between that come my way will shape me into the person I want to be in the future.

Via Xteeener 
Via Youtube