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Embracing the Quarter-Life Crisis: Finding Purpose in Wellness

Navigating Modern Life: From Purpose-Driven Anxiety to Holistic Wellness

By emma_nuelPublished about a month ago 3 min read
Embracing the Quarter-Life Crisis: Finding Purpose in Wellness
Photo by Kaylee Garrett on Unsplash

Let's get straight to the point: I’ve recently emerged from my quarter-life crisis. Now, the crisis itself hasn't disappeared, but I've crossed the 25-year threshold, marking the end of that particular phase. For those unfamiliar, a quarter-life crisis is like a midlife crisis, but it strikes 25 years earlier. You grapple with profound questions: Who am I? Am I using my time wisely? What are my true priorities regarding family, career, health, and even basic self-care like staying hydrated?

The Millennial Anxiety Epidemic

Millennials are particularly susceptible to these crises. According to the Center for Disease Control, one in three Millennials has a diagnosed anxiety disorder. Anxiety fuels any crisis, making it a pervasive issue for our generation. We are navigating these existential questions in a unique era. We have unprecedented access to information via the internet, yet we witness persistent inequalities and looming climate catastrophes as warned by credible scientists.

The Pressure of Finding Purpose

The pursuit of purpose is daunting. My theory is that this pursuit often leaves us feeling stuck and anxious. Reflecting on my own journey, I can trace my fear of purposelessness back to childhood. It all started during a visit to Trinidad with my family. My mother’s from Trinidad and Tobago, and I adored my grandmother. One morning, while walking hand-in-hand with her to her kiln, I noticed her aging hands and realized she wouldn't be around forever. This epiphany triggered my first existential crisis.

Early Struggles and College Ambitions

Determined to combat this fear, I dedicated myself to loving my family fiercely, being a good person, and following my purpose. In college, I immersed myself in various roles, from student leader to resident assistant, hoping to find fulfillment. Despite my efforts, something felt off. I thought perhaps the stress was the cost of living a purpose-driven life.

Seeking Solace in Trinidad

In the summer of 2015, an opportunity arose that seemed perfect. My mentor, Julia Hannah Brain, and I collaborated with the National Institutes of Health on a project in Trinidad and Tobago. I hoped this trip would bring clarity and rest, especially since it was my first return since my grandmother's passing.

An Unexpected Revelation

However, halfway through the trip, I realized my unease persisted. During a visit to a Catholic Church for a harvest festival, I found myself thinking deeply about my grandmother and her unwavering faith. Despite my intentions, I struggled to focus on the sermon, feeling increasingly distracted.

When everyone broke for lunch, I stepped outside for a moment of solitude. Standing at the edge of a mountain, looking out over the island, I was suddenly overwhelmed by a panic attack. It felt like an earthquake within me. I sought refuge inside the church, praying desperately for relief.

Turning Point: Embracing Wellness

This experience was a wake-up call. Upon returning to the United States, I decided to seek therapy. As an RA, I had always encouraged others to seek help, but now it was my turn. I approached therapy methodically, listing out all my life experiences, expecting a quick fix.

The Importance of Feeling

In my first session, after presenting my list, the therapist simply asked, “How does that make you feel?” This question marked the beginning of a crucial shift. I realized that understanding my emotions and prioritizing wellness were key to navigating my quarter-life crisis.

Conclusion: From Purpose to Wellness

In retrospect, my journey through the quarter-life crisis taught me that focusing solely on purpose can be overwhelming. Instead, embracing wellness—physical, emotional, and mental—provides a more balanced path forward. By prioritizing self-care and understanding our feelings, we can better navigate the complexities of modern life and find true fulfillment.


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