I’m 26 years old and I have, thankfully, already passed through my quarter life crisis.Unlike the mid-life crisis, which usually results in a new motorcycle, a bad hair-do and erratic decisions, the quarter-life crisis is the time when 20-somethings realize one simple truth: life is hard.
I’ve watched a lot of my friends go through this struggle. And I remember the feeling. I went through my quarter-life crisis in New York City. I had moved to the city to start my career in entertainment PR, and one day I woke up, panicked by my inner sense of purpose: Why am I here?
I left New York quickly and came back to Texas. I came home to a job that would allow me to live out my faith in God each day. I came back to my family and to a church that encourages its members to acknowledge their struggles and work together to know God more.
I came back to reality.
A lot of millennials have grown up with parents who, with all the best intentions, told them, “You can do anything you want if you put your mind to it.” They wanted us to reach for our dreams and to believe that we could be whatever we wanted to be. It worked. In fact, it’s led to a lot of confidence (and some sense of entitlement) among people in my generation.
But more than anything I think it’s gotten us confused.
Millennials, especially Christians, are taking longer than ever to find their purpose. They’re coddled by overprotective “helicopter parents” who hover around much longer than they should. They’re eager to make a big difference in the world but aren’t sure how to get started.
Unlike previous generations who were forced out on their own, drafted into the war and left to fend for themselves, my generation has a lot of options. Live at home. Travel in Europe. Take some more classes until you figure out what you want. Christian millennials get their fix from short-term mission trips and then come home and feel useless, constantly wondering, what’s next?
Most of the millennials I know are overwhelmed with their life’s blessings. We haven’t grown up without struggles, but for the most part our lives have been easy. And we feel we’re expected to do big things, both at home and in the global context. I know I constantly worry about whether or not I’m living up to my life’s full potential, haunted by the words “to whom much has been given, much is required.”
So I want to take this opportunity to encourage all those millennials who are out there wavering about the meaning of life. Don’t put off living while you’re trying to figure it out. It may take your whole life to understand your purpose. You may never even know fully what it is. So why don’t you just let God use you where you are? There’s a lot of work to do for the kingdom. Get busy!
And to those who are our leaders and our parents: Encourage us. Listen to us. Bring us into your circle and teach us what you know. And most of all–be real.
We may be overtly confident, but we still crave your wisdom and guidance. We need mentors–not coddlers–to push us and to help us find our way.
Jenny Pope is publications editor at Buckner International. She is guest blogging at Buckner Prez.