Monday, January 3, 2011

Crisis: an End or an Opportunity?

Upon realizing university life is going to end, and after 5 or 6 years, one is being tossed out in the unknown, the only sensible thing to do is to start thinking intensely. What job will I have? Will I have any free time anymore? Will I have to move from my current city to be able to make a living? What if I fail? What if the years that have past have been the best years life had to offer and it’ll all be over now? Obviously, after such thoughts, the only thing that’s left to do is to crash in the closest Blues bar, with a bunch of friends and a whole lot of beer and try to re-live those years.

If we are still so far away from what some people would consider ‘mid-life’ then is there such a thing called a quarter-life crisis? Is there such a crisis whenever we are faced with an apparently life-changing inevitability? End of university, marriage, divorce, having kids. Why do we assume that ‘the best years’ are always those behind us, instead of looking forward to making those ahead of us as good as they can possibly get and have each ‘next year’ be better than the one before?

Every great change has personal implication and personal responsibility attached to it. You chose to go to university knowing that it will one day end and you’ll have to make use of that piece of paper called a diploma in being able to put bread and expensive wine on your table, classy food, have a social life and a good career. Freezing up before the inevitability of time passing is a huge waste that bears the risk of missing out on opportunities. An acquaintance once said that every day we are being given at least 3 opportunities in the least, to be able to better ourselves or improve our careers or just snap into a revelation that’s meant to push us forward in times of need. At first it seemed way too optimistic for my ears, but his words stuck to me and made me wonder… how much of life passes us by without us actually noticing and allowing ourselves to really make something out of it and enjoy it properly? Are we confined in a perception that blinds us from accepting random opportunity? Are the goals that we set and that we think we need, so strict and so rigid that they won’t permit any other type of freedom in movement or thought?

And what is a crisis anyway? At that moment we are being entrapped by fear and anxiety, fear of losing something we think we had, anxiety of moving on into something we might not be able to predict. It’s a turning point in which there’s no real way of going back, but your legs shiver at the thought of moving forward. Many chose to try to re-live their “years of glory” but eventually end up feeling it’s not quite the same and, obviously, it cannot be the same.

A crisis is the sign that the perfect moment has arrived for one to sincerely think their paths over, or maybe even reconsider them entirely. There is an immense freedom once you get past such a moment and you actually grow the balls to make the first step in the new direction. One must realize that time goes by anyway, but, in fact, isn’t lost at all. Each and every experience serves its own purpose and meaning if it is done at the Right Time and in its right time, not sooner, nor later, not hasty and not dragged along beyond its expiry date. We take all these experiences with us and use them as building blocks for who we are and for always pushing the limits of what we can do. The more we become, the more we understand and the more we understand, the more capable we are to move along and put all the knowledge and wisdom life experiences gave us to good use.

As I said, there is immense freedom in getting past a crisis and the first step always seems the hardest. Fearing the unknown is a reflection of insecurity or bad communication with ourselves about what we really want. I don’t think there’s a recipe that tells you how to make it through, I believe each of us have our own demons to deal with and each individual will deal with theirs in a different way, best suited for the type of person that they are. But there’s no point in being petrified by your own inner demons in such a situation. Since they’re yours, they might just be there to teach you a valid point which might be eye-opening.

Not being able to predict what’ll happen next is something that disturbs lots of people. We want a guarantee for everything, we want to be able to control everything, and we always need to be assured, in one way or another, of the certainty of situations or the presence of certain people around us. This isn’t a bad thing, considering the type of society we live in, but it becomes a bad thing when this need becomes so dominant, it turns people into stubborn asses which can’t see past the limitations that they themselves have cast. Choosing to allow a degree of magic and miracle and chance into our lives can spice them up and give way to new and even more interesting challenges.

If we were truly able to predict and control all there is, wouldn’t everything in life seem like a dull routine? There’d be no crisis, but there would be no joyous surprises either. I’ll leave you with a few maybe ambiguous words that a dear friend of mine told me years ago and which I seem to understand a little bit more of with every passing year: “Certainty is the wrong clarity”.

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