Last week thanks to my job, I had the chance to hang out with twenty women who are mostly mothers for a whole day. I know, don’t be too jealous of me. They were bloggers we invited to an event for Method who makes green cleaning products. These ladies were inspiring with how much they do and how well they do it. As more wine started flowing, I think I actually told some of them that they were role models. How embarrassing!
Anyway, over this course of time, many of them bestowed some valuable life lessons upon me, which I happily and gratefully accepted. I also heard some stories about being pregnant and giving birth, but you can Google those.
This couldn’t have come at a better time since I just turned the age of 24, AND found a strand of grey hair on myself for the first time ever a few weeks ago. Almost everyone’s reaction when they found out how young I am is “Wow, 24! That’s a wonderful age!” But many women slightly older than me have said that quarter life crisis, just like midlife crisis, comes in waves and may last for years. Needless to say, I’m a bit freaked out and scared.
Overall, the ladies told me to not worry so much. I am a Type A person who tries to plan everything in her life, from miniscule things like working out on which weekdays to far away schemes like where I plan to live when I’m 30. Of course, the majority of my meticulous plans fall through, but I can’t help making to do lists, both on paper and in my head.
Many of these smart women admitted that they had similar perspective when they were my age, but gradually came to realize that there’s no point in trying to plan something before the situation arises because you can’t predict the future. Life has turned out SO differently than what they imagined years ago, but they wouldn’t want it any other way. So just deal with making decisions as the choices appear, and not get stressed about them beforehand.
A common theme for the modern women is the anxiety over having to “choose between career and family.” Sounds cliché, but it seems like every female I know over the age of 22 has seriously pondered over this at least at once. We’re so ambitious, and we want to accomplish so much, yet we don’t want to give up anything.
I was glad to hear from one lady that it’s true that a person can have it all, but “you just can’t have it all at the same time.” She went on to explain that doing everything well is impossible. Something’s gotta give between a full time job, kids, a house, a husband, parents, and hobbies. She tried to balance all of that simultaneously, thinking it will be good for everyone involved, but instead she became so unhappy that it made those whom she loved unhappy, and things began to fall apart. Same as with tasks at work, I guess in life we should just prioritize things in terms of urgency and importance.
Most ladies were in happy marriages, and they told me that there is absolutely no need to hurry the process. Many totally thought they would never find anyone, let along get married. Many dated the same person for 7+ years before tying the knot.
When I asked why they waited so long, their answer was that it didn’t feel like they were waiting for something, they were just happy being with their partners. And then when it felt natural to get hitched, they did. It seems much more logical- wouldn’t you rather have a successful long marriage resulting from a long relationship so you really know each other well, than being rushed into getting married and then have it not work out? No matter how much pressure you’re receiving, regardless of what other people and institutions expect you to do, it is your own life. You decide when you’re ready to do anything. (Are you listening, parents and relatives of single twenty-something women everywhere? Please lay off our goddamn backs.)
I think everything can be best summed up by what one particular lady said to me: “Here’s the best advice I can give you- You may learn from other people’s opinions and experiences, but only you will know what’s right for you.”
Happy Quarter Life Crisis Averted!