Life, Travel and My Quarter Life Crisis

I’m in a rough place right now. Possibly a quarter life crisis, if that’s even a thing. Sometimes living abroad is hard, and overwhelming. My friends are all starting careers, developing relationships and decorating apartments, and here I am with no career prospects, a master’s degree and $20k USD in debt…. Help me.

Life, Travel and my Quarter Life Crisis

I’ve always been one of those people who needs to talk things out. Whether it’s a relationship, or a personal problem, voicing my feelings in words always helps me. It almost doesn’t even matter what the other person says, it’s mainly forcing myself to air out my feelings.

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That said, sometimes a little bit of advice goes a long way. The few times I’ve really opened up here, the outpour of support has been amazing!  Most notably, my post about leaving my boyfriend to move to China. Honestly, whenever I read your kind messages I get all teary-eyed and emotional. I’m a baby, what can I say.

So basically… I’m really hoping that this can be another one of those times that we can have a little girl talk (or bro talk) and maybe you can all help me sort my life out.

Female Solo Travel

Hiking in Yandangshan, China

So here we go:

I don’t think I want to live in China anymore.

Oh WOW, stunning revelation Richelle. We all knew this was coming someday.

Yeah, okay I get it. Big deal. You want to move somewhere else. That’s normal. China is a rough country to live in, and the internet censorship is ridiculous, along with the horrible pollution. Of course you don’t want to live there forever.

Just hear me out.

I’m in a really weird place in my life. I’m 23 years old. I’m in the process of getting my master’s degree. I’m $20,000 USD in debt. I don’t know what I want to do or where I want to live, and my life choices are so vastly different from everyone.

China Expat

Everybody here pretty much plans to go back home after they graduate. This was their fun China year, and then it’s on to a “real-person” job, a house with a white picket fence, a husband and babies.

But that’s not what I want. I don’t want to go home. I’m not ready to go back to the US just quite yet. I’m not done with Asia. I’m not done traveling. I’m not done challenging myself. I’m not down for the 9-5 office job. I’m young, I’m fun, and I want to explore the world while I still have the health, passion and freedom to do so.

So what’s next for me? Where do I go? What do I do with my life?

I don’t know.

coconut Thailand drink

Who knows where I’ll go next

It’s so incredibly easy to stay in China. I even have a possible high-paying job opportunity in China next year. I could start leading food tours, writing travel guides about China, and work my way to becoming a “China expert”, all while saving money to get rid of those pesky student loans.

But to be honest, I don’t know if I can live here another year.

Don’t get me wrong, I love China and I will always love China. This country was my first true taste of international independence. China challenged me in ways I didn’t know were possible.

girly panda sleepover

I’ll still always love China and my Chinese friends

Have you ever been in a very serious relationship with someone, but just known that they weren’t the right person for you? The more you try to make the relationship work, and the longer you stay, the more you begin to resent one another. That’s how I feel about China.

I love China. I will always love China. But the more I force myself to stay here because of all of the amazing opportunities this country has to offer, the more I begin to hate it. I’d rather leave with fond memories,  than harbor hate and resentment in my heart.

I’ve been beginning to refer to myself as a “jaded China bitch”. Nothing here excites me anymore. Nothing is new. When things are hard, I don’t see them as a challenge, I just get annoyed. Nobody likes that person. I always used to look at those long-term expats that just bitch about living here, and I would think “If you hate it so much then why are you here?? Just leave!” But it’s hard to leave when all of the opportunities are here.

China cake celebration

I want to remember all the good times

You know where I really want to live? Taiwan.

I love Taiwan so much. Taiwan is my favorite country (so far). A small island, Taiwan really packs a punch. Cosmopolitan Taipei, with bars and restaurants serving any food imaginable. Night markets, shopping, and cheap hot springs, you can find anything in that city.

Or maybe I’ll live in Tainan, the sleepy city packed with temples and the best food you can imagine. I can go hiking in the free national parks, learn to surf, go scuba diving, lay out on the beach, or drink bubble tea until I puke.

I’d also love to move to South Korea, Thailand or maybe Vietnam. I’m open to the possibilities.

little kids Tibet

Chatting in Mandarin with little kids in Tibet

But I have a big problem. I’m also sick of teaching English.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved my job last year (aside from living in the middle of nowhere), but I don’t want to be a full-time teacher, especially not at an ESL cram school. I teach two hours a week this year and that is more than enough for me. I can’t do it. I don’t want to do it. The only thing I’m interested in is teaching English to university students.

Why is it so hard to find a job in Asia that’s not teaching English? It’s impossible… unless you’re in China. If you’re in China, all you have to do is sneeze and you can find a job. That’s a huge over exaggeration, but all I’m saying is that if I wanted to stay in China I’m sure I could find a decent paying job that doesn’t involve teaching English to crazy 5-year-olds.

Disney English China

Working for an ESL school is fun.. part-time

What would I be interested in? I could work as a college counselor to help local students study abroad in the West, work as an exchange student coordinator or study abroad resident director, do social media for a cool company or startup, aid an amazing NGO, or even work at an embassy (I’ll whip out my international affairs degree!).

To be honest, all I really want to do is travel, write my blog and create some cool entrepreneurial projects like backpacker tours in Asia. But I’m not in the place to pack it all up and start making money on my own. I make almost no income from this blog, and I’m $20k in debt. I feel like I would need to pay off my student loans and start making a bit more money before I could make a decision of that magnitude.

A part of me is kicking myself for getting my master’s degree, when all I really want to do is travel. I could have taken that $3k I saved up last year and backpacked around Southeast Asia! Now I’m stuck with debt, only able to travel when my school gives me time off, and I’m forced to take a “real job” to pay off the debt for a degree I don’t even really feel like I need.

Qinghai mountains

I think I’ll miss taking photos with random strangers

So here I am. Full of passion, (almost) two amazing degrees, ready to share my experience and value with the world, and I’m feeling trapped. Why should I settle? I don’t want to have to choose between teaching English to crazy children all day, or living in a country I’m not passionate about anymore.

I feel like I’m in such an odd position, wanting to live abroad, but also wanting a career, and I have no one to talk about it with. All of the backpackers have no clue why I’m getting a master’s degree and no advice about my debt, and my friends here are all heading home at the end of the year.

Chinese hostel

Good times traveling in China

The worst are the older backpackers who’ve already quit the 9-5 and have no idea what they want to do with their own lives. I can’t even get one sentence out before I hear “Shut up, you’re 23!” But you know what, this is my blog so no one can tell me to shut it here!

I know we’re all lost in life sometimes (or all the time), and it’s completely normal. None of us ever know what we’re doing. But I’m such a planner, and I’m so used to working towards that next goal. I wanted to go to the best high school, and then attend an amazing college, graduate with honors, learn Chinese, get my master’s degree… now what? Move back home and work up the corporate ladder? Stay in China and get a high paying job? No thanks.

GW Graduation White house

Who wouldn’t want to hire me?

I can’t be the only one in this weird position, trying to rationalize my desire for career success with my passion for travel, feeling lost and confused.

If anyone has any advice about jobs I could possibly apply for, or opportunities you think would be great for me, I would really appreciate it. Even if you just have a few kind words, or you’re in a similar place, please let me know so we can endure the struggle together.

Comments

comments

About Richelle

Expat, traveler, and spicy food lover, I've spent the last few years living in China and traveling around Asia. In my spare time I enjoy salsa dancing, exploring night markets and stuffing my face with street food.

52 comments on “Life, Travel and My Quarter Life Crisis

  1. So, I’m in a slightly different situation: I’m 23, married, in the US, working a 9-5 at a job I enjoy…and I enjoy traveling as well! My employer has gives generous amounts of time off, so I plan to use that time for international travel!

    But based on your blog, that’s probably not what you want to do. You’re trying to rationalize the competing desires for a successful career and the freedom to travel, but it is difficult to prioritize both at the same time. Here are some ideas of how you could balance both in the short-run:
    1. Find a job in China with generous time off and/or a China job that involves travel within Asia.

    2. Find a job that is either fully remote (i.e. work from anywhere) or partially remote (i.e. work in office part of the time and remotely part of the time). I’m not sure if these sort of positions exist in China, but it’s worth looking into.

    3. Find a job in a non-US country (like, England or something).

    • Thanks Alexandra! I’d love to find a job that’s very flexible since the ideal situation would be that I can travel whenever and wherever I want. I’m willing to have the typical 9-5 if I can live in a different country in Asia, because I’ll have a brand new culture to explore. I’m glad you found a job and a lifestyle that really works for you. Hopefully I can find something like that too!

  2. Oh girl, I am right there with you (except for the Master’s degree part). I’m 23, just got my bachelors, have been traveling Europe since November and don’t want to leave. But in order to stay in Germany, I need to find a job but the only options available require me to have fluency in German, which I’m not even close to yet. There are not many TEFL jobs here and the ones I’ve applied to at bilingual kindergartens have for some reason chosen not to hire me. I have 100K in debt and have no idea what I even want to do with my life. I know I love traveling, and other interests but it’s so difficult to even find any jobs that I have any interest in. Oh the quarter life struggle is so real but it’s always good to know we’re not alone. <3

    • Wow thanks so much for sharing! If you’re interested in teaching English in Europe have you looked into Spain, or do you just really want to stay in Germany? The struggle is real for young people, especially the ones that want to travel and live abroad. I’m sure you’ll find something, and if not, there’s a TON of ESL jobs in Asia ;)

  3. Decisions that can affect your whole future are so difficult to make. You are in my prayers, Richelle, that it will just come to you and that you will know what you need and want to do – at least for now. Wishing you the best that life has to offer. Love, Ruth

    • Thanks so much Ruth! You’re right, making huge decisions at such a young age can be very stressful. Although I’m sure I’ll find something I enjoy for next year. I’ve been getting such great suggestions from people.

  4. Richelle, you’re so incredibly insightful and I hope you know that. These questions you’re asking yourself are so normal and healthy and sadly, they go unspoken among the mid-twenties crowd. I remember because I was the one desperately clinging to not living that comfortable life that everyone around me in what seemed like the blink of an eye had chosen.

    Just know that choosing the comfortable, easy route is very short-sighted. Please don’t fault yourself for having a bit of perspective on the bigger picture. In raw, honest moments my girlfriends will admit they wished they had waited. Waited longer to get married, have kids, have a mortgage…all things I knew I didn’t want back then in the moment they were all doing it. I turned out just fine and you know what? I’m so glad I stuck to that “feeling” that you’re talking about.

    7-8 years later, I’m newly married, have a job that I love and I’m still a part-time globetrotter and still doing what I want without the constraints of the demands that most people are working for: keeping up with the joneses. I’ve kept my perspective.

    I do understand the weight of student loan debt. It’s awful. My suggestion, based on what you’ve mentioned here, is to go to Taiwan. You seem to love it. With your education and experience, find a job with a salary that will meet the minimum payments for students loans and look at it as another step towards doing what you want. You don’t have to know EXACTLY what you want to do 5, 10, 20 years from now and anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you something. Look at this as your next stepping stone, rather than a long term, definitive career decision.

    You’re bright and have more spirit that most people have in their pinky.

    You’re doing just fine. I promise.

    • Wow thank you so much Caroline! You have some great words of wisdom. Part of the reason I wrote this wasn’t just for me, it was because I know there’s a bunch of us travelers out there feeling the same way, and I was hoping to let them know they’re not the only one. I really love your quote “anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you something”. That’s so true! I will definitely keep an eye out for jobs in Taiwan. I saw one that was a study abroad resident director for American high schoolers. I think it also helps that I speak Chinese! Hopefully I find something good. Thanks so much for your advice :)

  5. Hey Richelle I know what you mean.Just returned from home for 4th CHina year,and not sure it wasn’t a mistake.PUlled a muscle in my back at the airport lifting my bag and now feeling miserable.Campus is not as nice as my previous one and this week’s Fire crackers did my head in.Anyways,why don’t you get a Uni teaching job(no kids,only 12-14 hours) and then you may even be able to travel and save some cash? All the best whatever you decide…

    • I would definitely consider teaching English at a university. I’ve heard South Korea might be an option but I’ll look into some other countries too. I would definitely have no problem teaching at a uni because I’d get to know my students better, I could create awesome lesson plans that build off one another and I’d have tons of time to live abroad and travel.

      That said, I hope you start to feel better soon. I just got my phone stolen, which has been really annoying for me, especially since I can’t get the real android app store to work, only the Chinese version. Sometimes living in China can be so frustrating!

  6. This might become a blog post in itself. To try and keep things short…
    I’m 32 (33 later this month), married, and been living abroad since 2008. I make my own job through blogging, writing e-books, and helping other people do the same. Oh, and we travel to weird places. Obsessively. Never been to Bangkok’s Grand Palace, but we’ve found many of the crazy hell temples scattered across Thailand…

    Anyway… your job needs to be made by you. Maybe it’s in China for now, maybe you’ll find your calling in Korea or Thailand or Zimbabwe. If you know a city in China like the back of your hand, I invite you to make some money off of one of my projects – see chooseaway.com for more info.

    Finally, traveling cannot serve as a solution to running from your own problems / issues. Expats figure if they’re unhappy, it’s because of the place or their circumstances. Then they arrive at the next place and realize the same sort of things make them unhappy.

    • Thanks Christ, I will definitely check out your site. I think I do have enough knowledge about China and Chinese culture that I could live somewhere else in Asia and still write about and create projects based around China. I would love to lead tours in China every once and a while or write guides to traveling here. I just don’t really want to live here full-time anymore. I’m glad to hear you’ve managed to create your own success and I would love to do that too! I just feel like I at least need a back-up for the next few years to pay off my student loans and create new projects. I guess we’ll see where I end up!

  7. I feel ya! I’m 25, living in Spain, teaching english and also going through these thoughts atm… glad I’m not the only one!
    Just remember you’re still young though, and have plenty of time to do things – find something you enjoy and make it work! Good luck!

    • I agree, I think it’s a good thing we’re so young and we have plenty of time to figure things out. I’ve met so many people in their thirties struggling with this same problem, and I think there’s a lot more pressure at that age.

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  9. Rachelle, you have an incredible advantage over some older travelers, you’re 23!!!! Oh my god girl, you’re too young to take life too seriously and deep inside you know that, but society kind of pushes us to make the “normal choices” isn’t it? I totally understand your feelings and life crisis.

    I’m 35, traveling for 16 years and starting to have the opposite issue, hahaha Everyone is settling down, have great careers, relationships, kids and stability and I’m still on the road. Not sure if being on the road is as adventurous and romantic as it used to be after so many years…. But that’s all I know how to do well.

    Follow your heart and imagine how will you’d feel in 5 or 10 years after choosing travel over stability and vice versa. The thing is, when you start working, it’s harder to give up or take a break. Now, you still have nothing to lose, so enjoy that freedom right now. :)

    A huge hug from Portugal!

    • Thanks so much! I’m glad you decided to do what makes you happy rather than blindly following the beaten path. I’m sure I’ll figure out what I want to do next year eventually, and I’ve been getting a lot of great suggestions :D

  10. I just wanted to say how awesome I think it is that you are doing all of this completely on your own, and that I totally am going through similar emotions right now. After GW, I decided to move to Israel to live with my long-distance boyfriend – even though I’m not Jewish. It’s been a wonderful experience, and I don’t have any regrets in my decision despite the ups and downs of navigating life in Israel. I do, however, feel constant pressure from back home – to go back to school (even though I don’t even know what I want to study), to come back to the US, to “find a career” etc etc. Taking a different path than most of our peers is difficult! I’m not ready to go back to the US full-time yet, but the pressure from home to settle into a career and thousands in student loans are taking a huge toll on me. I hope you continue to follow your heart throughout Asia. Thanks for your post!

    • Wow Sammantha that must be such an interesting experience living in Israel. There’s so much pressure to blindly do what everyone else is doing that sometimes it’s really hard to navigate life as an expat, especially if you don’t have an amazing international career. Hopefully you find a good job to pay off your loans abroad, and definitely don’t go back to school unless you know for sure why. I thought I knew why I wanted a master’s and now I’m not sure!

  11. I read this post and was reminded of myself a lot. I too have two degrees and lots of student debt. I also have a potentially useless Master’s Degree. I also love to travel and have not been ready for the adventure to end. I’ve also lived in China and there have been times that I’ve hated it and was ready to move on. Now I am 31 and I live in China again. For me and many people, China has a way of calling you back.

    My advice to you would be to go somewhere else for a little while. You and China need some time apart. I have a feeling you will come to miss it, and when/if you do go back, your relationship will be renewed. I suggest going back to a different place. I’d only lived in the north east when I started getting tired of everything. Then I went back to the wild west and fell in love all over again. I met my Tibetan husband there and now we live in Jiangsu with our baby girl.

    If you ever want to talk about it sometime I am sure we’d have a lot in common. Take care and I am sure you will sort everything out. I enjoyed reading this post and your blog!

    • Thanks so much for all your kind words Kimberly! I definitely agree that China has a way of calling you back. I really missed China after studying abroad, but now I haven’t given myself time to miss it again. I only went home for a month and a half this summer and I really didn’t feel like heading back to China. I think if I spend a year or so away from China I’ll begin to miss it again. I think I’ll always love traveling in China, but I don’t know if it’s the place for me permanently. I guess we’ll see!

  12. I leave China tomorrow and its crazy. Its hard when you don’t know what you want your future to look like. I do think that maybe if you take a break from China for a bit the passion might come back? maybe? I have no great advice but I definitely know the feeling of being a bit lost.

    • Yeah I think I’ll always love China but I can’t imagine wanting to live here again for a while. I’m sure the passion will definitely return once I’m gone because it’s still there deep down, I guess I’m just looking for a change of scenery?

  13. I’m also 23, and I live in China, and while I’m enjoying it, I don’t want to live here forever, that’s for sure. The difference with me is that I really like teaching English–my husband and I teach at a local high school. I think I like being a part of the regular school system way better than I’d like being a part of an English tuition center, that’s for sure. You’re definitely in a tricky spot. I think you have the right idea about not wanting to do anything too entrepreneurial or freelance while you have those loans looming over you. I’d almost suggest getting whatever high-paying job you can, whether back home or in China, or wherever, and paying off debt like crazy and saving up money like crazy to fund you dream for the future. Doing a year or two of the ‘daily grind’ really isn’t all that long in the grand scheme of life, though I know that it feels impossibly long when you first think about it.

    • Thanks Rachel! I actually do like teaching at a school (not an ESL academy), but the work culture at my school wasn’t very good, and they were constantly changing my schedule, assigning me random elective classes and I never knew when my holidays were. I also taught 1,000 students which was ridiculous. If I were to go back to teaching I’d want to teach university students so I could have more control over the curriculum, longer class periods and more time with each student individually. I think I’d rather stay in China than move back to the US, because moving back would be expensive and a huge hassle, whereas a lot of jobs in China give you an apartment and all my things are already here. Hopefully I can find a high-paying job in another country where I can give myself a break from China and make some money, but we’ll see!

  14. I’m kind of in the same place, although I’m a couple years older (26) and live in Spain. I had a similar crisis over teaching English, and found a job in translation instead. Only because of Spain’s economy, the company I was working for folded a few months ago, so I’m back at the same crisis point. I know I don’t want to teach English, but that’s about the only thing I know!

    Meanwhile, everybody else has jobs they seem to like and partners they seem to love, and I’m broke and confused about everything haha. I don’t think I want to live here forever, but every time I think about moving somewhere else, something inside me goes “Wait! Don’t go just yet!”As another planner-type person, having everything up in the air is very stressful.

    Good luck figuring out your quarter-life crisis!

    • Oh wow I completely understand. That’s such a tough place to be in. Hopefully you can find a new non-English teaching job. If you’re fluent enough in Spanish to be a translator, I’m sure there’s some jobs out there that you are qualified for. I wish you all the best of luck and I really hope you find something!

  15. Hi! I’m not traveling and I’m not even finished with university (just three more months : ( ), but I think I get you. I think the key part of this post is that you could have used your money to travel instead, and now you can’t do that, you have debt-> no money, and must stay in a country you don’t love. I think it felt like the right logical choice, to get your degree there, and now it doesn’t. But I think it’s great that you said it. I think it felt right because now, everywhere, it’s like your education isn’t worth it, like you always need more, and you need to keep studying RIGHT AWAY after you finish you first degree. I don’t think that’s right, and I think… if you want to travel, DO IT. It’s your dream, nobody knows what’s best for you, and it IS possible. You don’t need to just teach English, or live like a normal person in the country (I mean, study there, or work 9 hs there). There are these people from Argentina (where I live) that studied Tourism but they wanted to travel. They went to New Zealand on a working holiday visa, then to Australia on a working holiday visa, and then…. With the money they made, they started traveling Asia. For six years, and no plans to stop. They hitchhike and do couch surfing, or offer to work in hostels for a room. They are definitely not rich, they show that if you want, you CAN travel even if you don’t have a lot of money. http://marcandoelpolo.com/ this is their site, it has a little part in English.

    Think about a 1 year plan. Ok, you are in China, you can’t do anything about that. Just finish your degree, and try to get a job there that can pay your debt. I think that’s the worst part. But after that, you are FREE to travel wherever you want. Wanna go to Japan? Thailand? Vietnam? Go and do it. It doesn’t matter if you spend your time traveling. When you don’t want to do it anymore, you CAN stop and find a job. I think the most important thing is to be free of your debt so you can go wherever you want. Maybe you could even look for a job somewhere else, maybe Japan or Australia. Australia is not “Asia” or “adventurous”, but it is really close to places you want to go (closer than the USA :P) and maybe you would feel more comfortable than in China, with a more rewarding job.

    Just do whatever you want, it’s your life, you already know HOW to travel alone, which is what stops everyone I think. So be happy, you are very intelligent, don’t worry so much about the future~ Go, kill your debt, and see the world ~~

    —This is a horribly long message @@
    ——The site isn’t looking so good, or is it just me : o ?

    • Thanks so much Camila! I definitely agree with you that so many people jump straight into school without a real plan. I took a year off to teach English and thought I knew what I wanted to do with my life, and why I needed a grad degree. Then I fell in love with blogging and backpacking, and changed what I wanted to do. Now I’m wondering why I need a degree anymore!

      As for the site, I was having MAJOR technical issues yesterday. We finally got the issue sorted and it’s back to normal. So sorry about that! I agree, it was completely unreadable. I’m surprised you could even read this post! Thanks for not clicking off my site immediately hahaha. I was actually freaking out all day yesterday about it. Thankfully it’s finally fixed now.

  16. Oh my god i know exactly how you feel. I’m almost in the exact same position. I’m 23 next month and only have an international relations degree. I wanted to go overseas asap and start progressing towards a career. Now I’m overseas and I feel stuck and lost like I’ve made a huge mistake. Its do or die. At least you’re writing about it. All the best. Ps I also love China!

    • Don’t feel too stressed about starting your career straight away after college (I know that’s rich coming from me when I’m only a year older than you!). Enjoy your year abroad and make the most of it. Even if it’s not a good job or in your field, you’re gaining valuable international experience that you can apply towards your career later.

      For example, I taught English last year and when I came home over the summer, a family friend jokingly (except he was actually serious) offered me a job at his company because I “got China”. I learned so much about Chinese work culture just by having Chinese bosses and coworkers that can be directly applied to an international career.

      Good luck and I hope you feel better about your situation!

  17. I’ve been feeling exactly the same lately! The first few times I was in China I absolutely loved it-especially when I was living in Yangshuo. But this past year I’ve been constantly annoyed whenever I travel in China and I can’t get over the pollution, environmental affects, rudeness, etc. I think working in Taiwan over the summer ruined China for me.

    If you do take the job in Shanghai for a year or so, at least know Shanghai is great for living if you’re kind of over the rest of China.

    Good luck job hunting!!

    • I feel like Taiwan ruined China for me too! I went there over the summer and then I couldn’t help but think “WHY am I moving back to China”. I just want to live in Taiwan forever.

      Hopefully you’ll start to feel better about China once the weather warms up. I felt this way about China last winter and once the sun came out I loved China again. I think the lack of heat is really draining physically and emotionally. But honestly, I am looking for a change of scenery at least for a year.

  18. I can relate. It’s understandable. :) I miss Taiwan every time I am living in China (but I also like China).

  19. Great article Richelle! This year I actually applied for a 9-5 job in Europe after almost 18 months of being a digital nomad, crazy, uh? Life is all about changes and I’m sure you’ll be able to land on your feet sooner than later :)

    • Exactly! After hearing feedback from so many people I realized I’m kind of getting ahead of myself and I shouldn’t worry about applying for jobs for a few more months anyway.. haha

  20. I see that you wrote this post exactly on March 8th, when the international women’s day is celebrated worldwide.
    I never felt a quarter life crisis even if now I already have 35, so who knows if it will come soon or never.
    China seems to be a very beautiful country, I think I will go there this summer to stay for at least a week.

    • I didn’t realize I was publishing it on women’s day, but I guess that’s fitting isn’t it? China is a really beautiful and fascinating country and I definitely suggest traveling here. There’s so much to do, see and eat! For me, it’s just not a place I want to call home forever, but I’ll always love stopping by.

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  23. How about thinking about what you really want to do with your life – don’t worry about money or career – focus on living and do something that fits around that. There are loads of ways to travel for free and maybe your dream career/ epiphany will come along one day when it is ready. I try not to worry too much about what to do with my life – just take each day at a time doing what your heart tells you to do and the answer to your questions will be around the corner somewhere along the way. Good luck

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  25. So, I’m aware that I’m a few months late to the party… (I just stumbled upon your blog and was making my way through it – coffee in hand!). I’m in quite a different position, I guess, as I already have the Degree + Masters + job abroad – but this is my advice:

    * Check with your Masters’ career advisor regarding positions abroad (as in, outside China)

    * Do they have an Alumni association? If so, contact Alumnae that are working in the countries that interest you

    * Choose a country, move there and look for a job (obviously some countries will make it easier to find a job as an English-speaker than others – have you considered Singapore? They have a strong link to China – so you’re experience would probably be well appreciated – and it’s close to a lot of beautiful places in Asia for holiday/weekend escapes)

    * If you’re open to leave Asia (without losing your focus on the region), you can check jobs at the international organisations (World Economic Forum, for example).

    Anyway, I know a lot of people tell you this but…. you’re 23 – don’t stress about it too much. Of course you’ll want to have something lined up (I too prefer plans than going with the flow) but sometimes you have to take a risk / work yourself around something to get to where you want to be.

    Good luck!

    • Wow thanks so much Katharina! This is really great advice, not just for me but for a lot of people in my position. Surprisingly a few weeks after I posted this I was contacted out of the blue and asked to apply for a job (?!) and I received an offer! I’ll be writing a post all about it later this week. It’s funny how things can change so quickly!

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  28. Hi dear Richelle,

    Sending you hugs from Singapore xx
    The reason why I’m led to your blog here is bc I’m facing quarter life crisis as well. Been confused, lonely and jaded for months now.
    I’m turning 25, have double Degrees and had an amazing year of career start but this year I completely lost myself, lost it all.
    Reading through your post, I could totally relate to you. I was a very ambitious person and just like you, I have always wanted to travel and explore the world and not do what most average people do- having a 9 to 5 job or settling down with a family when one hits the age of 30 or even earlier.
    Dear Richelle I wish I could get out of the country and start my life afresh as well, but I’m tied down with about $10k debts too. My family is considered above average, but bc I don’t wish to take any allowance from any of them and I’ve been independent since young tho I’m the youngest in the family.
    I have completely lost passion and drive in my career, and all I want to do is explore the world and find new passions out there. But I know this, too, shall pass, and the only thing I can do is to fix things by myself. I’m taking my time.
    I sincerely wish the best for you. It’s been a year now after your post, and I wonder if things have changed for the best for you :) whatever it is, know that you’re not alone and I’m sending you courage and faith from afar x
    Love, A

    • Wow A, thanks so much for getting in touch! I completely know how you feel. I think the most important thing is to find a light at the end of the tunnel and work towards that. For me, I get to live in China which is awesome, but it can be frustrating to see all of my blogger friends travel, start their businesses, and become successful while I’m still working off my loans at a desk job. But every time I get discouraged, I remind myself that I paid off $10K USD in loans already. I remind myself that I can still work on my blog in my spare time and find subtle small ways to make money and build up my business. I remind myself that I still get to travel and explore on the weekends.

      My advice is to find your light at the end of the tunnel. Think about what it is that you really want to do. What would you do if your loans didn’t exist and your family/society didn’t have any expectations of you? What would you do if you won the lottery? For me, sure I want to travel, but I also need to work otherwise I have no purpose. I would still work on this blog even if I won the lottery (I would probably just be less concerned about monetizing it). Find your light at the end of the tunnel and work towards that. Even if it means you have to wait a few years working a job you hate to get there, you’ll be able to do it because you see the light. You might also consider working abroad! I’m not sure what skills you have or what you want to do, but don’t rule out working internationally!

      Finally, if you need a break, take it! If you need to quit your job, travel and put your loans on hold, do it! Take a few months off. Do what you need to do so you won’t go insane. Good luck :)

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