The quarter-life conundrum


It’s been a while hasn’t it. The longest I’ve gone without blogging. Thank goodness Google remembered my password. I’ve been going through a thing. A self-discovery-cum-crisis thing. So here I am, opening up about it…

You are not the first person to feel afraid, and you are not the first person to feel unworthy, but that is where your story begins, not where it ends. There is no roadmap. There is only faith. The act of it, if not the feeling. Keep going.

– Meg Fee

Sweating from a heaving journey of armpits in faces and elbows in sides, she came through her front door to an empty flat. She ripped off her bag pulling out strands of long tangled hair, stripped off her jacket, hurling it as soon as it stretched off the wrist onto a pile of strewn clothes. She inched beneath unmade covers and she cried. Sobbed. Clenched fingers grasped at her crumpled forehead and she wept. An hour later he crept in and sat at the end of the bed, a hand lightly resting on the lump of a covered foot. I feel lost, was all she could muster. I don’t know who I want to be. Mascara bled from her eyes, pools of black misery soaking into the pillow. And I don’t know how to begin finding out.

That hysterical girl, not yet a woman, was me. Is me.

All I knew is that I’d woken up and realised that everything I’d been so sure of in the past was now completely uncertain. I had no idea what I was doing with my life anymore and what version of myself I wanted to be. I still don’t. Do I want to be the girl who does yoga in the morning? Who wears slogan t-shirts and patent red boots? Who has stories to tell of spontaneous nights in London or road trips in Europe.

The first twenty or so years of life are somewhat laid out. Education, a home with bills and food you don’t even consider the cost of, a few interviews for weekend jobs to provide that first step of independence. You discover which subjects leave you hungry to learn more and they become your career choices, your hobbies. You try new things and fail, you succeed in ones that surprise you.

There are decisions to be made, naturally. What to study – and where to do it – but like the other stages of my academic life, choosing a degree was so clear in the moment. I want to be famous, I said when I was five like it was an obvious aspiration. I want to be a lawyer, I announced as I reached my mid-teens. I want to be a wedding planner, I assertively declared as I picked out a course that I was assured would be my future.

But then the life I’d been building towards stopped making me happy. It crept up on me and shook me from my core. Any successes and recognition suddenly felt pointless because I didn’t want what they represented. I’d spent years slowly gaining self-confidence through verification. And now it didn’t count for anything. There was no result. I wasn’t the best in my class anymore. My adventure savings remained stagnant. I opened Netflix rather a Word Document. My bad hip ached and lazy meals became the routine. I looked back and saw two years of passive living but the disappointment equalled the fear to change any of it. I became too scared to dream. Because I was 25 and all I saw was failure.

When you’ve dreamed of creating a life you are confident will result in happiness, and it doesn’t, how do you then find out what does?

Before my early twenties, I very rarely had to give anything up through choice. Yes I freely decided to stop childhood ballet lessons, but everything else came to forced end. Part time work left as you move to university, student houses come and go with each year complete, every big change a part of a plan.

To change any aspect of my life would require me to do so alone, without exterior forces. No expiry dates imposing such change, no plan to follow. Endless possibilities to many would be so enthralling yet I was left simply terrified.

Through the twists of anxiety and weeks of panic that my twenties would slip by me, I took to words. Read in memoirs of becoming oneself, listened to in life coaching podcasts, paired together in my head; one chapter of my short life. And then I wrote it out. Every last drip of confusion. One simple entry into a journal. I don’t know who I am. And that is ok.

No one warns us about our mid-twenties. About the confusion of self-discovery. About how even those who have their shit together, really, well don’t. They don’t warn you until it happens. No one knows what the fuck they’re doing, my friend Jane said, we’re just all figuring it out.

I don’t know who I want to be… but I’m coming to terms with it. I’ve accepted that part of being myself is finding out who that person is to begin with and that it will include mistakes, sadness and imperfections. I’ll see rejection. I might even fail, numerous times. I’ll definitely get it wrong somewhere. But if I don’t start showing up for the life that I’m hoping to find I’ll never get there. So here’s to writing flawed sentences, shaking in downward dog, a beer over a cocktail in favour of saving a few pound coins.

Here’s to starting somewhere.

If you are feeling anxious, confused or just want to know you’re not alone in figuring out how to be you, I highly recommend the words of Meg Fee, Daisy Buchanan, Cara Alwill Leyba, Lucy Lucraft and so many more.


Travel Between The Lines is an honest, thoughtful journal of adventures far and near. For those who love nothing more than to traverse the world between the comfort and calling of home.

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