In my book, “And the Good News Is…” I write about my own quarter-life crisis and how I got through it by resetting my career clock, choosing to be loved, keeping in touch with my network, and taking a chance on a new career path.
On the book tour, I saw in many young readers’ eyes that they knew exactly what I was describing.
The good news is that quarter-life crises pass – yes, they are common, and we all get through them! If you need a little encouragement or advice, check out these three stories from readers who shared their experiences with me:
Amy married her husband when she was 23-years-old. They had a long distance romance for a few years while they were in college and during her husband’s deployment in Afghanistan. Upon his safe return, Amy decided to leave her job as an engineering technician with an oil and gas company to get married and be with him.
In just over two years of marriage, the Army moved Amy and her husband three times. Resentment started to fester as Amy realized how difficult it would be to have a career while the military decided where her family would live. She was happy that her husband was advancing in his work, but she felt unfulfilled work-wise. She became consumed with thoughts of how she was failing, how far along she should be in a career by then, and how behind she was compared to everyone else in their mid-twenties.
Something had to give. One day Amy sat down and made a list of possibilities for her career over the next 11 years while her husband would still be in the Army. Amy decided she had two options: find a job at each duty station and hope to keep advancing in some way, or open her own business -- one that was not location dependent.
Fast forward a year. Amy started a small business selling handmade dog collars, leashes, and accessories. She has made collars and bow ties for dogs undergoing chemotherapy, for a litter of yellow lab puppies beginning their training to become service dogs for veterans with PTSD, and for a guide dog to a veteran who lost his eyesight during combat. She even made a collar for the House Dog at the Ronald McDonald House in Savannah, Georgia. You can check out her business here.
Amy loves the work and the autonomy she has over her career. She still is working to get where she wants to be, but she says for the most part she has successfully overcome her quarter life crisis through taking charge of her circumstances and becoming an entrepreneur.
Amy says she no longer worries her days away, or broods about her work life and that she’s fulfilled and happy growing her business. She is also the proud new mom of a three-month-old daughter!
Paula had no idea what she wanted to do with her career when she was in high school, so she postponed college. She worked various jobs; retail, office work, even earning her real estate license at age twenty.
Paula disliked all of it, and the feeling of not knowing what she wanted to do with her life was agonizing.
She lashed out at her parents one New Year’s Eve, blaming them for her confusion about her unknown future. As only parents can do, they listened, hugged her, and promised it would all work out.
As a temporary solution, Paula asked to work for her father until she figured out what she wanted to be. He agreed.
Paula’s father was a sales rep for stone quarries- granites, limestones, and marbles. He taught Paula how to identify granite on old buildings.
He quizzed her while walking down the streets of Philadelphia.
She got to work on Independence Hall and other wonderful old buildings.
Paula had explored quarries and destroyed her Mary Janes on lots of constructions sites as a kid, and she grew up around her father’s business, so it came naturally to her.
Fifteen years later, Paula is married with a daughter, and the sole breadwinner for her family due to an accident that her husband had.
Her father unexpectedly passed away at age 64 and suddenly Paula had to run the company alone -- in an industry that’s still mostly made up of men. She is still at the helm.
Paula says she never figured out what she wanted to be when she grew up, and took a "fall back" position instead.
As it turned out, it was right where Paula was meant to be.
When Katie turned 29 in 2015, she had been working for four years at a company she loved, but in a job she hated. In addition to uncertainty in her career, she felt hopeless about finding love.
She rarely dated, and when she did, she would quickly discover that a long term future wasn't one she could picture with the person, and so she would end the relationship after a few months. She began telling herself that she should get used to the fact that she might never get married or have kids.
Katie says she always looks to the future, thinking 10 steps ahead when she makes decisions – and she was depressed when she couldn't see a future in love or her career.
Things began to change in May of 2015.
First, Katie received a promotion at work. It still wasn’t the job she wanted, but only a month later she interviewed for a different position within the same company and got the job.
She crossed that daily career worry off of her list.
But, even more good news was in store for Katie. A month after her career seemed in the right place, she went to her cousin's wedding and met a British man named Paul. She fell for him immediately, but worried about their 14-year age difference and the fact he lived on the other side of the world in Australia. She hesitated to contact him but decided to give it a go.
It was a good decision. They have been dating ever since and plan to get married. Paul is moving to Texas to be with Katie this June.
Taking a chance on love, putting herself out there – while making herself vulnerable to rejection and heartbreak – was the right thing to do. Choosing to be loved is a great decision for everyone.
I hope Amy, Paula, and Katie’s stories offer the encouragement you need to make it through your own quarter-life crisis.
If you or someone you know is going through a quarter-life crisis, pass this column on to them.
My plea to you – don’t worry your young lives away. There is hope; and 2016 is going to be a great year for us all.
Dana Perino currently serves as co-host of FOX News Channel's "The Five" (weekdays 9-10PM/ET). She previously served as Press Secretary for President George W. Bush. She is the author of the new book "Let Me Tell You about Jasper : How My Best Friend Became America's Dog" (October 25, 2016). Ms. Perino joined the network in 2009 as a contributor. Click here for more information on Dana Perino. Follow her on Twitter@DanaPerino.