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My Quarter-Life Crisis – Reflections of a 20-Something Traveler

My generation, the Millennials, Generation Y, whatever you want to call us, seem to have popularized the term “quarter-life crisis.”  They come in all shapes & sizes:

You’re 27 and you still aren’t married.

You’re 27 and you already regret getting married.

You have a mountain of student-loan debt that remains to be paid off years after graduating.

You still don’t have your dream job, but can’t bring yourself to quit your current grind.

Basically you still don’t know what you want to be when you grow up.

We thought we would have it figured out by now.   

I know not all of us are having a quarter-life crisis, but I’ll be the first to say that I am having one of sorts.  Even though I chose a lifestyle that some may classify as “living the dream,” everything comes with a dark side.  As I continue to travel & see the world, I can’t help but feel something is missing.

Shall I elaborate?

A couple days ago I celebrated my third straight birthday abroad in a different country.  And before I do anything else, let me just include a few images of how awesome it was!

quarter life crisis

These guys made the trip – what a great crew!

quarter-life crisis

You already know there was a Titanic pose broment

quarter life crisis

Before you make fun of me, remember it was my birthday AND my first time I’ve ever being on a private-chartered yacht.  That’s enough to trick ANY white boy into thinking he’s Drake, at least for a few minutes right?


This doesn’t sound like a quarter-life crisis to me…

Now, there’s no denying that my past three birthdays have been memorable, filled with new experiences in new places with new friends.  I’m grateful to everyone who was involved in making them special for me!  But they also mark 3 straight birthday celebrations with no family and no close/old friends (besides Mitch who visited me last year & my girlfriend of course).  It was a bittersweet reminder of a realization that’s been dawning on me for some time now:

I’m missing out on my loved ones’ lives.  

  • My parents are getting older, and it scares me to think that by the time I’ve kicked this addiction for travel, I won’t have much time left with them.
  • I don’t know if I’ll ever see my only living grandparent again.  She lives in Wisconsin & I only see her every few years as it is.
  • My friends are getting engaged & married by the dozens.  It seems every time I log on to Facebook there is another engagement.  I’m happy for them, but then the somber reality of knowing that I probably won’t make the wedding sets in.
  • I’ve even missed out on being in some of my friends’ weddings solely because we have lost touch over the years.  I don’t just blame this on travel, but also myself because I know how terrible I am at keeping up with people.
  • I haven’t been able to celebrate some of my best friends’ and cousins’ transition into parenthood, and be by their side to support them during the craziness.  Not to mention I’m missing crucial & formative years of their childrens’ lives.  “Uncle Ford” is merely a concept that I have created in my own head to make myself feel better & somehow more involved.
  • But it’s not just the major events that I’m missing, it’s all little stuff too.  Activities like the church small groups & Sunday grill outs with football.  Randomly kicking your buddy’s door in.  Going to the movies.  Short phone conversations to talk about the day.  The “How’s it going’s?” and “Whatsup’s?” of real life.  You know, those types of things that make you a friend.  

These things weigh heavily on me.  These are issues that really worry me.  They make me doubt myself.  They prompt the typical quarter-life crisis questions: Am I doing the right thing with my life?  Are my priorities straight?  Am I where I need to be?  Everyone has their own struggle, but this my struggle, the struggle of a long-term traveler.

The Good News: Quarter-Life Crises Are Normal!

My father has his doctorate in Counseling Psychology and Higher Education.  He has always taught me that one of the defining characteristics of our generation is that are we are basically in mental/psychological puberty until our late 20’s or even mid 30’s.  We are still figuring out who we are, what we want to do, and who we want to do it with.

quarter-life crisis

Photo credit: Stratejoy

These aren’t just words from my father, they are clinically proven theories.  It’s no wonder that yet another name for us is the “Peter Pan Generation.”

We should welcome our quarter-life crisis.  Our 20’s are the time to figure out if we’re on the right path.  These doubts we are struggling with are normal.  This “normality” should give us confidence to walk our path.  I am not alone.  You are not alone.

The important thing is to be happy and find the good in whatever stage we are in.  Expect change & growth, and be willing to embrace them whenever they come.

For me, traveling the world is to discover what makes life rich.  Expanding my worldview through immersing myself in new cultures, learning Spanish, and meeting & helping people along the way define my current path.  Despite the uncertainties that may come during my quarter-life crisis, I’m confident God has put this path in front of me for a reason, and I’m committed to walking it.

Special shoutout to my girlfriend Giovanna who is with me every step of the way, in more ways than one (she’s also going through the same quarter-life crisis).

I’m not the best at expressing my emotions, but dang do I miss you guys!

Forgive me for not being a better friend.  Forgive me for not calling, for not remembering important dates, for not supporting or helping in tough times, for not….being in your lives.

And thank you guys.   Thank you for loving me & supporting me.  Thank you for welcoming me with open arms when I am back in the States, and thank you for encouraging me & following along online.  The fact that y’all find time to check in on my journey, even while you’re in the midst of your own, means more than you know.

And thanks for all the birthday wishes this past week as well!  Don’t forget, I still want to cross paths soon!  Maybe our individual quarter-life crises can benefit from each other 😉

The freedom to roam and discover the unknown energizes me & gives me life, and you guys can plan on me continuing to share this with you all through my blog.  But just know that with every beach sunset or mountaintop view that I upload, there’s a postcard “Wish You Were Here” filter that hasn’t been applied.





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