How I overcame my quarter-life crisis and found the courage to become who I really am

As I am almost 30, I AM 30 TODAY, and the things once made me feel most annoyed, now are of no importance to me and others, which I ignored for a long time, surface as the most troubling or liberating things in my life. I want to share my thoughts and story on how and why evolving as a person is an unpleasant but so necessary task.

It never occurred to me that I could change my status, my awareness and that I do have control over my life, decisions and most importantly, my thoughts. I write this blog because someone, at some point, can use it as the tool I never had, to break free from all those ideas which are yours, but they control your life. I want to help you to find the courage to become who you really are, and not live on with a mask on and pretending to be who others say you are.

As this might work for me, and maybe for others, might not work for everybody. I am not a specialized or trained personal of any kind in this field, and all the knowledge I have comes from self-studying and life experiences.

As I remember myself as once being a weak and selfish person (which some can still recognize today), I have been through different stages and that’s what I want to share with you.

I want to tell you, that you are not alone and the way you might feel, it’s OK. No, it’s nothing wrong with you, you are beautiful, smart and handsome, ingenious, kind, worthy and able to achieve it. Whatever is that thing that you are dreaming of, or maybe you haven’t decided yet, but believe that you are.

I wrote about all these things before, how I stepped on the path of self-discovery and the importance of learning who you are, but this will go beyond that.

I try my best to explain everything, such as what I felt in my dark times, and how I managed to overcome everything, my life perspective, my life philosophies and what I do exactly to address all my demons, in the hope that this will help someone else.

That is as a free piece of advice or a life story. But I most want to stick with you is the fact that NOBODY CAN TELL YOU WHAT AND WHO YOU ARE. And that you can change your mind in the process.

2 Days in Varanasi, the holy city of India How I overcame my quarter-life crisis: find the courage to become who you really are

True life story

After years of quitting that job I hated, travelling a bunch and getting new jobs, in different fields (on my own terms this time), I am still struggling sometimes. It’s not like you ever reach a ground where you are all happy, and then it’s all paradise.

It’s a constant negotiation with life, with others, figuring ways to make your life better. Of course, It gets easier. Because there is such thing as life experience, and all those crazy situations which you thought will kill you some years ago, actually made you this much more thoughtful person you are today. The good part of all this is that as you get older, you tend to learn better and faster from bad situations. Hence the saying ‘The older is wiser.’

You grow, you mature, you live, and you learn. You get a little wiser, and you learn better ways to handle things. – Rakim

I do not deny that there are many ways to discover and learn who you are, but what still works for me is travelling.

I believe travelling is this wonderful tool for discovering the world while we discover ourselves.

I am so addicted to this self-discovery that I strive to do it my entire life. That’s why after years of randomly living, I decided to put all my energy (most of it, anyway) into travelling and blogging about it.

I was never good at writing or doing videos, but my goal is way bigger than having yet another travel blog. I do it because I want to inspire people to do the same. Because travelling is easy and it gets even more comfortable when you have something greater pushing you to it. And that is the art of self-mastery.

I spend years of my life being angry at the people around me, arguing about things I never cared about, just to prove myself. Because I felt worthless and unloved.

It might come as a shock to you, but I believe that these people who dare to step out of the ordinary life we all know, are those whose history had put them to a test.

I didn’t grow up in what society paints to be a normal happy family. I grew up in a house of physical and verbal abuse, where I questioned any sound as it could be a sign of immediate danger. My mother, brother and I grew up co-depended on my alcoholic functional father.

Most people haven’t heard of this term. I had no idea what trauma would this be for me and my brother, decades later, when we would be young adults trying to take a shot at life. It was never easy to struggle with this and it still isn’t.

What took me years to understand was that no amount of care or tears will change the behaviour of those around me. It took me decades to understand that I have control only over my words, and actions. I am still struggling to constantly remind myself that I am neither responsible for what others are living nor do I have to clean up their mess. I am who I am and I can always try my best to help. But I shall never cross the thin line between helping and engaging with someone else’s mess.

In my case, the pain never goes away. I just found ways to cope with it, I discover who I am, what I want, prioritized accordingly and started living on my own set of rules. I found personal development and travelling to be two powerful tools to help me do this.

3 days on the Gili islands (base in Gili Air How I overcame my quarter-life crisis: find the courage to become who you really are

Stages of my crisis

The crisis hit me when I couldn’t take any more of this. My mind would take control and everything felt worthless. The constant stress I was feeling was killing me and my desire to do anything with my life. My brain took over and tried to cope with stress and all it could find was food. And going to the gym. Without realizing I had a full schedule of maybe 12h a day in which I would fit work, gym (sometimes twice per day) and other language courses.

Looking back I realize how my mind was trying to help me, by trying to push it all away and hide it behind this ignorance. It was trying to fill my schedule, so I wouldn’t have time to think about all these things happening in my life, which was causing this huge stress and was slowly killing my body. My immunity was down, my spirit was down, and my hopes were nonexistent.

But somehow, forced to change something as I was falling into the pit of depression, I found the voluntary service programme and that helped me shifted my life philosophy.

I wasn’t loving myself, and I was harming myself with my actions. Did that for many years, until I finally got to understand where were my actions coming from. They were all coming from anger.

But all that anger is, is the repression of fear. I was still that little girl, afraid in her room, hoping that none would come raging through the door, screaming that I did something bad. I was craving attention and love.

That’s all I ever wanted, but the wound was so deep, I couldn’t even tell you where it all started. I never had compassion for myself. Therefore, I never had compassion for others. I had an entire list of social qualities I was lacking and I was trying to compensate though what I did know. That was more than shouting and speaking badly of people.

For the last five years, I have been actively travelling and learning about myself (achieved a lot of personal development), who I am, what are the things I like and the things I don’t like. That’s why I travel, and I believe every 18-old should do too. Evolving as a person never stops, but it has to start somewhere, and for me, it was through travelling.

Check out The Personal growth Journey to understand why travelling is a tool for self-improvement.

By travelling I felt freer, I learnt that people don’t judge me, and are generally nice to me. I learnt that I have the right to be treated nicely. I learnt I have rights. And that I should demand them. I learnt about boundaries, personal and social boundaries. I understood them and learnt how not to take them personally.

Most importantly, travelling thought me that most people don’t really care about me, and the things they say, says more about them than it says about me. And that made me a lot more peaceful and less contradictory.

I learnt to understand people more though actions and gestures. I lived in countries in which I couldn’t understand the language. And English was not always a communication channel. That’s why it was no point for me to try to explain something in English but rather learnt to listen and pay attention to non-verbal signs. To expressions and tones.

Remember that most people, even if you understand the language, they can choose the words they WANT to say, but their gestures and expression will always say what they INTENT to say. And picking up others’ intention is even more important than the word coming out of their mouth.

I became flexible and learnt to adapt to all kinds of environments. I worked with kids of whose language I knew nothing of and ended playing together beautifully.

I had dinner with families, although we didn’t speak the same language, we communicated through gestures. And I felt understood and loved. I finally understood that love came come in all shapes and it is not someones natural obligation to love you or to treat you nicely.

People are who they are and that’s how I learnt I should and can be who I am. Humans have this beautiful ability to observe and copy. By being exposed to all kinds of cultures and people from all kinds of backgrounds, I could learn to be myself and copy this wonderful habit of being oneself. And all of this I owe to this fantastic tool I call travelling and that’s why I want to share this with the world.

Spending a night in the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan

But travelling did another extraordinary thing and changed this fundamental wrong idea I had in my mind. By experiencing life in different conditions, with people from other cultures, I saw the sorrows they were facing and the joys. I could see what made them happy and what they were working for. I saw things I never saw in my culture and in my family. I was lucky enough to travel to solid family cultures and was taught the lessons my family never taught me because it wasn’t the case. And that is self-loving. I did this also by copying what they were doing. These people from not so wealthy backgrounds have solid families and they all practised self-love.

Of course, most cultures are closely related to their religion and this might have played an important role in that self-awareness and self-love stage. But they were practising their habits day after day and that stuck with me. Not going to church, but the little things, like dining together, the way the talked to each other. I could almost see the respect they all had. No, it was not always like that, and like all societies, they all have flaws. But I saw those too and didn’t want to let those influence the good things they had to offer.

I noticed I am at my happiest when I am travelling because I am always busy learning. About myself and others. I am experiencing the world while experiencing myself. I can feel the positive effects that have had over my mind and entire life and I know I just have to share that with all of you.

These are all the reasons for which I share my travel stories, my travel inspiration and guides.

I am living the person I really am and I hope you will do this as well.

If travelling is for you, then you are welcome to follow my trips and hopefully, be inspired to take some time to do some travel on your own. If travelling isn’t your thing, I hope you will get the idea and inspiration to live the life you love, knowing you can always change whatever you don’t like about it, because you are in control.

I think we all need to give a purpose to our lives because otherwise is just a matter of time until depression will conquer our days. I have been there and occasionally, I remember how that feels.

Mistakes to avoid when travelling for the first time to New York City How I overcame my quarter-life crisis: find the courage to become who you really are

Quarter-life crisis: Staying on track

I developed my own methods to not fall into that dark train of thoughts. I run a blog, I focus on my social media accounts, I seek out like-minded people and take them out for a coffee. I try to surround myself with people who are like I want to be. I seek to the inspired every day and don’t let my mind rest, because it sure knows how to wander off in the wrong direction.

Achieving all of this, by oneself is impossible.

We are social beings are we are designed to live together and to cooperate. I learnt to be sociable and friendly, to be kind to people and to sustain my friendships. This is the area I suck at the most. I had no friends during childhood and my parents had none all their lives. I own this now, and it’s nobody’s responsibility but mine.

As I said earlier, I now know I am in control of what my life looks like and therefore I am not blaming anyone for it. It’s mine and mine alone and I own it. Good and bad. And developing the art of having and maintaining social relationships is something I have to work on. Nobody else will care, because nobody else but me is affected by this. It’s nobody’s fault I have bad relationships. It’s only my fault and that’s a key starting point for me.

I lived for many years of any life (and still have my moments) when I thought that I will grow up and be able to manage everything by myself and not be at the command of anything or anyone.

Due to my not so happy childhood, I have developed an annoying habit of having everything under control and therefore I need to control and know everything, every second of my life. I just have to live with this constant noise in my head, telling me to do or check stuff. It sucks the energy out of me and sometimes this happens even before I had the first sip of my coffee.

But I learnt to identify those moments too. I usually try to interrupt that train of thought by immediately changing my actions, by controlling the rhythm of my breathing and intentionally focusing on something else.

And sometimes it just brings me down and decides to let it control my mind for 3 days in a row. Yes, I still fail sometimes, but in the long run, I try my best to not give up.

I am not going to feel sorry for myself. That is NOT the reason I wrote all of this. I wrote it so that you can see that you are not alone struggling with moments like this one. I think a lot more people have than but only a few admit it.

And I decided to be as sincere as I can and tell you all about mine.

Actively, although I still have bad moments, I am still trying to find better methods to stay on track and not lose track of time in the pit of despair, I do a bunch of things to get out of it as fast as possible. What do I do? I listen to happy music, music I love to sing. And try to watch happy movies, because once I start smiling, my inner state gets better.

I push myself big time to get out of the house and talk to people, although I don’t feel like doing it sometimes. Isolation never helped anyone.

And then I turn to my blog, to my travel plans and get caught in it. And some of my sadness disappears, even if just for a while. It might be just some form of therapy or what I always wanted to do. I don’t know. But it works for now.

I noticed that using less social media actually helps my mental state. So when I don’t need to be online, I tend to ignore it, or at least use it less. And I feel so relieved about it.

We don’t know how much time others are spending on social media, because it doesn’t say anywhere. But if you are like me, I’m guessing we use social media to check out on others way more than to share our own things. And that is unhealthy for me. I believe people my age will change their behaviour regarding using social media in the near future. I am trying to!

I hope this reaches the right people, those who need to read it, who are struggling with what someone called a quarter-life crisis. I’ve been there and nobody told me it will go away, but I am happy I am here today capable to share it all with you! (If there is anyone still reading this) Because you’re worth it!

Oh yes, Happy Birthday to me!

Iulia Vasile

Iulia is a travel expert, blogger, engineer, freelance copywriter, and a curiosity-driven personality. She sees travel as the ultimate tool for self-improvement and personal growth, and that's the main topic of her blog,

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