Quarter-Life Crisis?

I wanted to write about my participation in a Step It Up National Day of Climate Action Rally on the National Mall.

Ooooo, it’s hot out here! There must be too much carbon in the atmosphere! Take action, take action and get some satisfaction!

Step it up, Congress: 80 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050!

But after receiving a notice to renew my lease and reading through a few posts on Brazen Careerist, I started to feel rather anxious about my life.

I don’t feel that I have much direction any more.

It is so weird that until recently, I knew exactly what I wanted to do in life. I had my career, education, and family life entirely planned out. After college and more recently after starting my first job, I realized that the real world offers both more possibilities and limitations than I had anticipated.

Most significantly, I realized a few months ago that I don’t have to pursue a career in the environmental field. I can still be good a environmentalist--living sustainanbly and supporting local, national and international environmental efforts--but I don’t have to work within the community. This realization was beyond shocking to me. I’ve spent at least 15 years dreaming up a life limited to a career at the EPA, Greenpeace, or as an environmental educator. Now, the whole world has been opened up to me and I’m scared. There are too many directions and possibilities for me and I just prefer the simpler life that I had planned when I was a 11 year old.

I feel totally off-track.

Irrationally, I figured that I would have a PhD, a great environmental career, a husband and a house by age 25. I’ll be 26 in a few weeks, and I haven’t achieved any of those things. As you might imagine, the pressure to achieve my irrational goals is mounting.

There is also a lot of pressure to figure out my next step.

My one-year anniversary at my job, in March, reminded me to reevaluate my current and future career and lifestyle. Over the course of the next year, I’ll have to decide:

-Should I stay in D.C., move home, or somewhere else?
-When should I go back to school and for what degree and where?
-Shouldn’t I apply to the Peace Corps first?
-Have I experienced and explored all that D.C. has to offer? (I still haven’t worked as an underpaid Hill staffer or for an evil K street lobbyist group)

Most of all, how can I truly make a difference?

I’m really nervous, scared, and confused about my next step, as I was after I graduated. Particularly, now that I’ve found another “safe place,” I feel compelled to hold onto it for as long as possible. But if I do, I’m disallowing myself the opportunity to grow and to experience all that D.C. and world has to offer.

My, the clock is ticking, the pressure is on.

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