There are plenty of pros to having family and friends that have known you since you were young. The downside, however, is that these are the people least likely to embrace or be understanding of your life change(s). When you experience a life-altering event or go through a period of personal reflection, you are bound to change in some way, mainly in perspective or behavior. Whether the changes are positive or negative, great or small, those who know you well will notice them. Sometimes, seeing these differences will make them uncomfortable, concerned or treat you differently. This response only makes difficult life-changes that much more challenging.
My “quarter-life crisis” began with my career choice concerns, but it has slowly branched out into other areas of my life. I’m not as unsure about the other aspects of my life as I am with my career options, but I’m definitely at a place of re-evaluation and reinvention. As I have processed through this period of personal growth, some of my ideas and behaviors have changed, and those who have known me awhile have made it obvious that they are VERY UNCOMFORTABLE with this. Some keep reminding me of what I USED to do, say, like & feel in this disappointed and disheartened tone. Some are confused about how I’ve reached this point and why I can’t just “snap out of it.” Others are more encouraging and positive, viewing it all as natural and “a part of growing up and becoming wiser.” I agree with the latter concept. Yes, all of this change is frightening and stressful at times, but I firmly believe these experiences are beneficial to learn from.
I’m glad I have people in my life that will be honest and express their concerns with me if something alarms them, but its BEYOND FRUSTURATING to constantly be compared to who I was when I was in high school or even when I was 20 (I’m 25 now). If you don’t re-evaluate, reform or transform during your lifespan, you’re stubborn and not learning a darn thing. There have been so many moments since I’ve been in grad school where someone has said to me “well, you never do this…” or “you used to be this way” and I wanted yell “well, some things freakin’ change!!! There’s s a first time for everything!! What are you going to do about it?! You either help me deal with this, or get the hell out of my way!” When discussing my career confusion, for example, one person said to me “You’ve never been concerned about your career path. I’m not used to you being this way.” Well, guess what? I’m not either! It’s new for me too! You think it’s uncomfortable for YOU, well, how do you think I feel?! As far as I’m concerned, my support system has the easy part. They just get to listen and maybe give advice. I have to make the hard decisions and live with them.
“I’m not used to you being this way.” I think my friend’s statement explains why others freak out when you experience a life-change. In each personal relationship, we have a specific role that the other person comes to rely on. For instance, in a sibling relationship, the older sibling may be protective of the younger. The moment the older sibling isn’t protective, the younger one may take issue. In application to myself, my support system isn’t used to me being confused or discombobulated about anything. They’re not used to me having to rev-evaluate or reform. I’ve always had everything clearly mapped out and defined. I suppose that some of them have come to rely on my solidarity, particularly when they’re distressed. Now that I don’t seem as stable to them, maybe they’re concerned that they don’t have someone to come to for answers. Perhaps it’s just a fear of the unfamiliar, or a fear that my social dynamic with them will be affected by “altered” role. I’m not sure what the case is, but their assessments are only making my personal process more convoluted and stressful.