When I turned 21, the blues of adulthood had me feeling depressed and hopeless. I was working at a coffee shop job in Beverly Hills that I thoroughly hated––every lady looked like a Britney Spears or Beyoncé rip-off while I was just chilling with thick thighs, a muffin top and jeans I could barely fit––and I felt like everything I accomplished thus far was meaningless.
Riding the 720 bus was the only time I sat and reflected on my life. For me, on that bus was the only time I had to think about where my life was headed. It was the bus when I saw rich and famous stars like Michael Douglas, Pete Wentz, and Brandy headed down Wilshire in their flashy cars. The 720 took me toward Hollywood, where I was in good company with other people who were depressed like me, yet they found their solace in playing the "which star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame am I going to piss on today" game.
While watching the palm trees sway outside of the bus window and crying to all 10 stinking minutes and four seconds of Erykah Badu's song, "Green Eyes," I pointed out several things about my life that were bothering me.
For one, my long distance relationship, which bore many promises of marriage, ended with my fiancé running into the arms of another woman. Then there were the hundreds of job applications that I turned in to companies in my field yielded zero callbacks. My Fox Sports internship ended with my coordinator throwing his hands up at me, and I was living with an aunt and uncle who sometimes acted like I was a huge burden on their lives. My telemarketing job had taken a perverted turn when my fellow employees suddenly started admitting to ripping people off, because let's face it, when was the last time anyone purchased a product from a cold call? And at that point, I felt like my college degree was just another piece of paper to throw on top of the rest of the junk mail on the table.
Life was rough, I was depressed, and had zero answers.
However, the 720 bus allowed me the time to figure out how I could turn my messy life into something meaningful: I decided to head to the Hollywood military recruiting station from Koreatown and dedicate my life to military service.
Yeah, I know. It sounds pretty stupid, but that's what happens when you're pulling strings out of thin air while trying to figure out the answers. In my mind, it was the best way for me to skip all of the headaches of adulthood.
So with tears in my eyes, I cut my hair, threw on my my big girl pants and caught that 720 bus to glory. It was my train to freedom from the depressive thoughts that were chasing me. It was my saving grace. It was almost the exact same thing that Katy Perry went through in her "Part of Me" music video except I joined the Navy, because the Marines were out to lunch when I reached the recruiting station. Go figure.
I was fully in the midst of a quarter-life crisis, brought on by the stress of becoming an adult.
While I treated Uncle Sam as my savior from this dark time, looking back, I realized that my impatience is what made my own quarter-life crisis last longer than it needed to. But I know like anyone else that being patient, or waiting for God to throw you a sign, can be tough.
Living life in your 20s comes with a lot of emotional highs and lows, and you're not really sure how to develop into a normal, functioning adult because you're relative new to the game. But if you're going through a quarter-life crisis, here are several things that can help you push through.
1. DO YOU, NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE ELSE THINKS ABOUT IT
One of the worst parts of my quarter-life crisis was the fact that I thought other people's opinions about my life mattered. Years later, I realized that making ymy own decisions was part of the process of growing as an adult. No one else has to walk a mile in your shoes but you, so don't allow someone else's opinions to run your life.
2.TRAVEL WHILE YOU DON'T HAVE CHILDREN
The best part about me joining the Navy was the fact that I had so much time to think while I was deployed overseas. Those nights on the ship where the sky over the Red Sea was so dark that I couldn't see my hand in front of my face was the perfect time for me to hear my inner voice loud and clear. But that all went away after I had my son, who made a ridiculous amount of noise every time we boarded a plane or took a road trip or even touched him.
If I had known then what I know now, I could have gotten a teaching certificate and taught English to students in China or Korea after graduating sans the military enlistment. I could have also volunteered at several African orphanages, or taken a job as an au pair overseas. I didn't need the military to travel. What I needed was a break.
Make a bigger effort to travel during college or right after graduating. You may be under the impression that since you were a broke college or post-college student that the cost of traveling is too expensive for you. But trust me, it isn't.
3. UTILIZE YOUR TIME ALONE
I realize that I spent next to no time healing from my childhood trauma or appreciating the woman I was growing to be while I was alone and single in my 20s.
I could have spent my 20s finding new ways to love myself and my flaws when I was kicking it solo. Or, appreciating how much fun I was having by my lonesome while learning Tagalog from those wacky and hilarious Filipino game shows that constantly played on my television during my deployment to a British-owned island. I could have appreciated myself as a free woman a lot more as I poured libations for the slaves who were buried at the plantation on the island. But instead, I allowed the problems I faced during my quarter-life crisis to distract me from living life.
[Tweet "Spend your 20s finding new ways to love yourself"]
So while you're alone, make the best of your alone time. Learn how to respect your life's journey, where you've been and what you need to work on when you're by yourself. Those are the times when the answer you're looking for falls on you like a ton of bricks.
4. GIVE BACK MORE OFTEN
When my ship went to port in Dubai, I had the opportunity to volunteer at a home for children with mental and physical disabilities. While I was there, I met some amazing kids who were so happy to see a "Nubian" person who served in the American military that they forgot all about their own problems. To say that I was touched by their genuine innocence would be an understatement.
Even though some people may not know you from a can of paint, just being around their joy can uplift your own spirits. Get out of your own way, so you can appreciate the blessings a lot more.
5. DON'T LET YOUR DEGREE DEFINE YOU
It's no longer surprising to me anymore to find someone who has graduated college, only to discover that they'd rather not study in their chosen field. Trust me, I know how frustrating it is to hear employers request 2-4 years of experience in your field of study, when you just got the dang degree 10 minutes ago. It's enough to make you ask, "What's the point of it all?"
If you find yourself in this situation, don't throw in all of the cards. Discover what it is that you'd rather do with your life instead. The fact is that there are many adults who are years older than you with the exact same problem. You were just lucky enough to have this problem while you were young.
Find out what it is that you want to do with your life, whether you decide to take a year off before going to grad school or you decide to build your own business. In the end, what matters is that you're doing what you're passionate about.
Honestly, I still don't have things all the way figured out, and I'm okay with that as long as I keep learning and growing. As long as you keep the same attitude and give the universe your undivided attention and absolute patience, you can survive anything. Even a quarter-life crisis.
Have you ever had a quarter-life crisis? How did you figure things out?