Quarter Life Crisis

Original Author: Lester Chee

World Health Organisation (WHO) figures reveal that Singapore has the fourth-best life expectancy rate in the world. Women can expect to live to 85 and men to the age of 80.

Entering 20s meant that I’m a quarter done with business here on earth – the best quarter I would say. gp1In this first quarter of my life, I have had 18 years of formal education, (almost) gotten a degree, had x girlfriends, served national service, fired 7 kinds of weapons and 8 types of explosives, travelled to 13 cities in 6 countries, ran 3 marathons, and the list goes on. army-quarter-life-crisis Many would say that in comparison to my counterparts in other Asian countries, I should count myself blessed. But is that enough? I can’t help but think “Maybe if I just have _________, THEN I would really consider myself blessed!”.

The world sells us; SUCCESS, WEALTH, LUXURY. Sometimes, we tell ourselves that we need those stuff. Social media exaggerates this need by showing (only) the good stuff our friends are up to. Suddenly, everyone is traveling and everyone is eating great food and everyone is getting married. And in our weak attempt to justify those who are better-to-do, we come up with lame excuses like “They must be unhappy even with all that money” or “Look, their health is compromised”

Overtime, we develop the new OCD – Obsessive Comparison Disorder.

The fact is that man’s thirst for great-ness is insatiable. Greater looks, fame, recognition, comfort, financial freedom are just some of the possibilities. The list is endless. It is never enough. But is this innate desire for progress something one should shun? Is it wrong to continually, aggressively pursue a better standard of living?

Entering 20s, I suddenly came to the realization that life was not about fun and games anymore. Its time to face the consequences of all the decisions I have made thus far. With mounting education loans and an impending career choice, I stood still at the junction of life and looked around. quarter-life-crisisI asked myself several questions: “Am I good enough?”, “What have I achieved?”, ‘”Where am I heading?”, “What do I want to do in the future?”, “Have I learnt/laughed/lived/partied enough?”, “How much is enough?”. Those unhelpful contemplations drove me to reduce the 1st quarter of my life to a mere wasted TV episode. The gravity of all that I have done/had not done weighed on my heart like a heavy rock.

Subsequently, there were days I sat in helplessness, thinking that it’s too late to rectify anything. There were days where I sat in anger, upset at society for being the unfair playing field that it is.There were days where I sat in utter regret and self-disgust, imagining all the what-ifs and could-haves. And there were days I sat in self-pity, for the hand the world has dealt me I felt LOUSY, LEFT BEHIND and LOST.

And there was one day, I sat up and decided:



Organisations develop Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to measure how well they have kept up to expectations. These are pegged to quantifiable statistics like money, performance etc. Humans are also influenced to think that way of their own life, measuring quality of life by the money we make, the people we control, the holidays you’ve been on, the delicacies we’ve eaten.

Truth of the matter is, none of all these material things are the objective in the first place. All of life’s challenges seek to build us up to be more patient and resilient. Our achievements are merely the manifestation of who we are. The only material that matters is the one we are made of. The WHO is more important that the WHAT. editedkim3We are our own KPI. Instead of pursuing the results, pursue the character that leads you to such results. Nothing depicts character better than the Roly-Poly toy – the ability to get up each time it is pushed down. Despite overwhelming odds, all we need to do is to stand up and go at it again. So what if we got off to a bad start? So what if we’ve been dealt a bad hand? So what if we have made some mistakes?

We are our greatest asset but also the greatest liability. We have to realize that the ball is always in our court, and we are all we need to change our quality of life. It is never too late. The fiercest battles are fought between the two ears. If you win the battle over your own mind, you are set to win anything else you set your heart to.

Someone once told me, “Where you’ll be in your 30s depends on what you do in your 20s”.

Now, get over the procrastination, get over the self-pity, get over the low self-esteem. Go ahead and dream BIG – there is no shame! Make your first million, run a triathlon, travel the world, start your own business, do whatever you have always wanted to do. Don’t let statistics crumble your faith, don’t let fear and doubt rob you of your destiny. It is WHO you are inside that counts.


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