When You Have a Quarter-Life Crisis

Recently, I lost myself.

As a kid, I was sure that when I turned ten, it would be revealed I was a mermaid. Then I was sure at age sixteen, I would become a siren. I thought that I would get my license and a car when I was sixteen, as well. When I went to college, I thought that I would dye my hair and get tattoos. I thought I would go out a lot and take lots of pictures with friends at house parties playing music that was too loud. Spring breaks would be filled with cruises and trips to the beach. My far future of being a ‘real adult’ was basically me travelling around the world and (maybe) eventually settling down and getting my own apartment. With a cat. Or two.

Turns out, the closest I got to any of those goals is when I grow my hair out and it kind of looks like mermaid hair when I get out of the shower.

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This is probably the second closest I’ve come to being a mermaid

I’m twenty years old and I didn’t become a siren. I still don’t have a car, or a driver’s license for that matter. I dyed my hair when I was eighteen and loved it, but ended up letting it grow back out and cutting off the blonde. Tattoos are way more expensive than I had originally anticipated, and I found out that I hate going out to parties. My spring breaks have mostly consisted of going back to my suburban home and spending time with my family, and my ‘far future’ is not so far away – I graduate college in a year. I don’t see a lot of travelling after graduation because it turns out that travelling is a lot of money, as well. Cats are still a strong possibility once I settle down.

I’m also twenty and went through Basic Combat Training at age eighteen. I joined the National Guard and have been with a Military Intelligence unit for over two years. I’ve been back to my home country, China, and climbed the Great Wall. I’ve held a forty day old tiger, and made friends with people from around the globe. I met my other half and found a group of friends who have been more supportive and loving than words will ever be able to describe.

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Graduation (after 10 weeks at Fort Leonard Wood for Basic Combat Training)

Sometimes, we have goals that aren’t our goals. We have goals that are our parents’, our friends’, our peers’, or our society’s. We convince ourselves that we are people who we truly are not. Most of my fantasies came from books, movies, and people with those kinds of social media pages – you know who I’m talking about. They consistently post about how they graduated with honors and a triple major in two years, or have been backpacking across the entire continent of Eurasia in three weeks. They make life seem easy and constantly adventurous, but it’s not for everyone. And that’s okay.

I never thought that I would travel halfway across the world to find my best friend, or join the military, yet here I am; and I’m content with my decisions. I’ve learned a lot, and it’s taken me in a direction that I never saw. Because that seems to be a trend: the unexpected.

I think it’s easy to say that the best things often come from the most unexpected places, but it’s different to live it. It’s different when your entire life vision does a 180 and becomes a life that, had you told Little Lily is the one she would be living in ten years, would have laughed and proceeded to pretend to be a cat.

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Did you think I was joking about becoming a cat?

So, maybe you aren’t where you thought you’d be, or you’re unhappy with what’s happening. But that’s okay. I’ve found that the most important part is to keep moving forward, there is not enough time to sulk about what didn’t happen or should have happened. Keep your head up, and you’ll see that some opportunities come in the most unexpected ways.

Best Wishes,

Lily

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