I have talked about being in the third life crisis a few months back, and just like ocean waves, it may hit you harder one day than the other. Currently, I’m in the self-improvement phase. You know, when you feel that you don’t have enough knowledge or skill compared to your peers. And as a result, you may want to master different abilities, or trying new things, just to be better. These skills can be anything, not necessarily work-related abilities.
My best friend started to learn the violin at 36. While I started learning about digital marketing and have a burning desire to paint and to go back to school. I want to read more books, watch more documentaries, and see more art installations around the city.
What makes matters worse is I feel that happiness is around the corner. I keep thinking that if I know enough or if I master these skills then I will be truly happy. I’m not saying that I’m generally unhappy. It’s just I have a certain feeling that I will gain more happiness if I can prove to myself that I am able.
Another phase is you may realize that you are not ‘invincible’ anymore, that we are mortals and full of limitations. There are responsibilities, while on the other hand you still want to be carefree. The urge to be responsible, to grow up, may induce fear in some people. Once I realized that nothing lasts forever made me scared to move forward.
However, experiencing these feelings, fears, and emotional struggles make me fathomed that my time is limited. Most of my time is spent on daily routines, such as work and household chores. While doing the routines make me feel safe, I also need to plan on how I want to spend the little free times that I have. I need to make priorities. Even better, a goal.
Having a goal may be easier said than done.
Since life itself is always fluid, sometimes our goals may change according to our mood or life stage. I know that my goal is not ‘on point’ because I still feel restless. At that time, I feel that my goal is not enough to move me or make me learn new things. Then I tried to think in a bigger picture. Not of who I want to be, but of how I want to be remembered.
After setting the goal, the priorities will set itself. When earlier you always feel no time to do self-improvement activities, suddenly you will make time. In my case, I always wanted to be remembered from my contribution to the society – hence the go back to school goal.
On the other hand, we may feel burnout if we are too focused on the goal. Pursuing a new goal is only exciting for a certain time. New activities will become routines after a month. While routines will give you a feeling of safety, you may feel the tension and exhaustion after a while. Therefore, I will end this story as a note to myself, and probably to all of you out there struggling with the same third life crisis – always leave room for your own happiness.
Don’t wait till you grow older to be happy. It is not around the corner. Sometimes we need to review what we have learned so far and be proud. Having a calendar and to do list helps me reflect on what I have achieved so far. Which makes me realized that I’ve written 100 articles both for myself and my clients. Or let the spontaneous side kick in and just do those things that you really want right now. I sometimes spontaneously book a flight for the weekend and worry about things later.
Stray off the path for a while, but don’t lose sight of your goal.
A writer | researcher | lecturer who also a tech-addict and internet-junkie