A true account of one twentysomething’s struggle for personal and career identity — and her search for meaning.
This quarterlife crisis story is part of a larger look at this issue. Read: Navigating the Quarterlife Crisis to Career and Personal Success: Five Strategies for Fulfilling Your Dreams.
My early 20s seemed as though they would be like those of any other business graduate. I had a corporate job waiting for me, with a comfortable future and a very tall corporate ladder to climb. I looked forward to life as a young adult, to grow into the person I knew I could become. My college graduation day was wonderful, and I was ready to begin my new chapter. Then three days after graduation, my parents announced they were divorcing after 25 years of marriage, and I was hit with feelings of insecurity and abandonment — I felt alone in the world.
The next few years were a blur of very different jobs, different living arrangements, and different friends. Never wanting to stay in one place long enough to make a difference, drifting through life was more rewarding than making an actual decision. I did it all. I had a marketing job in a major corporation, was a receptionist in a healthcare facility, played various characters at a major theme park, waitressed at a high-volume national chain restaurant, and managed the office of a family business. I had five different jobs — totally different careers — in a five-year period. I also took some acting and voice classes, as well as a bartending class.
I had great skills when I graduated college — and in some ways, through this strange journey of jobs — I think I even have better skills now. I have not moved anywhere up the corporate ladder. Success came slowly to me and had to start with healing some serious personal wounds caused by my parents’ divorce. I did lose some things — like my wonderful piano that I cherished dearly — but living like a nomad was not as bad as it may seem. I was avoiding life, but I was also not trapped by possessions or other people’s definitions of success. I was able to take a break from life, from reality, and from whatever direction I was heading.
It took some time, but eventually the pendulum swung itself back and things started to turn around for me. I took the time to reflect on my life. I did some soul searching. It dawned on me that what I went through all those years was a test of strength, courage, and endurance.
And now, as I hit my late 20s, I have reconciled with my parents, have re-established my identity, made new friends and connected with old ones, and I now know the direction I want to go in life. I am currently applying to law school and plan to use my education and skills to make a difference in this world. No longer do I want to sit on the sidelines watching players dictate the world to me. I now sit in a position where I want to be the one who learns the rules, abides by the rules, and helps others to realize their potential by following the rules.
It’s time to finally restart the adult life I thought I was beginning those days right before my college graduation.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.