R and his partner are going through a quarter-life crisis, a newly-coined term. Both are high-earners and high-flyers. They are not sure what drives them, or what motivates them. They are uncertain about their mid-term future. Sounds to me like it is a case of what is now popularly termed as “Quarter Life Crisis”.

I recall my personal quarter life crisis.

I have just graduated not so long ago. Had a comfortable and stable job in a MNC (Multi-National Company). I thought that this was what I have always wanted. This is exactly what I have aimed for since I was a little girl. Good company, good job, great starting pay. But, why do I somehow feel a bit… empty?

I started to dread going into work. Going into work was a torture. I remembered hating Sunday nights. I will start pulling a long face by about 5pm on Sundays as I knew that my weekend was coming to an end. I was not sure what I wanted. I hated what I did. I looked at what my boss was doing, and I did not aspire to take over her position in the next 5-10 years. I was very worried then… that I would have to spend the rest of my life feeling the way I felt.

The reality is, being able to truly live is a privilege that we started to have in the last 100 years because in the past, most people were too concentrated on survival to think of anything else. Today, we have our basic needs met at an early stage. We do not need to do something which we do not enjoy. Hence, we know of many friends who quit their jobs to pursue their dreams. In the past, we would be termed as crazy or irresponsible. But today, our families are not waiting for us to bring home the bacon. As a result, we are looking to meet our higher needs.

We want to find meaning in our lives, in our existence.

 I asked R,

“Are you happy?”

He seemed surprised by the question.

I guess we are so entrenched in our day-to-day lives, that we do not stop to ponder upon our own happiness. Our lives are like clockwork sometimes. On weekdays, we work, then go home. On weekends, we run errands, catch up with friends, rest. And then the cycle continues.

It’s the same with relationships sometimes.We know that perhaps he/she is not the one. We plan to give up on the relationship. But somehow, we just hang on. Perhaps it’s for convenience, or perhaps part of us still love him/her, and we just hold on to the tiny hope that perhaps in another week or so, things might change for the better.

And before we know it, another month has gone by, another year has passed.

Are we truly happy? Or are we just going through the motions?