For about 3 years now I’ve been surviving through my very own quarter life crisis. Towards the end of my degree I realized I no longer wanted to be a starving musician, living week to week, my whole self-worth based on my last performance (probably be a different story if I was in a cool band in which case I’d be way to cool to care about that stuff). So I nicked off to South Korea to teach English and contemplate my future.
Since then I have found many a career path I’d like to follow… none of which I have done a thing about. Should I follow my year-long dream of becoming a fabulous event co-ordinator? Or maybe weasel my way into the magazine industry? Perhaps don a suit, pick up a newspaper and give business a shot? I’m afraid this will remain a mystery for some time now. Luckily, a friend posted an article from eyeweekly.com on just this topic. I don’t feel so abnormal anymore. It read a little like this:
Welcome to Your Quarterlife Crisis
You can’t make any decisions because you don’t know what you want. And you don’t know what you want because you don’t know who you are. And you don’t know who you are because you’re allowed to be anyone you want. How messed up is that?
Imagine a day in the life of a couple you probably know. He’s 27 years old, and she’s 26. They wake up beside each other in his downtown bachelor apartment and have sex that neither of them particularly enjoys. They’ve been sort-of dating for a while now, but they’re not willing to commit to each other: he likes her, but doesn’t know if he always will. She can’t decide if she likes him more or less than the other two guys she’s sleeping with.
He bikes to work at an advertising agency, where he uses his master’s in English to proofread ad copy, and spends several hours reading music blogs and watching movie trailers, periodically Twittering updates about his workday to his 74 followers. He doesn’t really hate his job, but feels as if his skin is crawling with vermin most of the time that he’s there, so he has a plan to move to Thailand, or to maybe write a book. Or go to law school.
At her government job, she instant messages her friends and mostly ignores the report she’s drafting because she’s planning on quitting anyway — and has been planning to quit for about a year now. She spends her lunch hour buying boots that cost slightly more than her rent, then immediately regrets it.
He listlessly works through lunch, then goes to the bar after work to meet up with some university friends, where they talk about their jobs and make ironic jokes about other people. Back at home, he wonders why he feels so gross and empty after spending time with them, but it’s mostly better than being alone.
She walks to the house that she shares with three friends and spends a few more hours on celebrity gossip websites, then clicking through the Facebook photos of girls she knew in high school posing with their husbands and babies, simultaneously judging them and feeling a deep pit of jealousy, and a strange kind of loss. “When did this happen for them?” she wonders.
They both eventually fall asleep, late and alone, each of them wondering what it is that’s wrong with them that they can’t quite seem to understand.
This phenomenon, known as the “Quarterlife Crisis,” is as ubiquitous as it is intangible. Unrelenting indecision, isolation, confusion and anxiety about working, relationships and direction is reported by people in their mid-twenties to early thirties who are usually urban, middle class and well-educated; those who should be able to capitalize on their youth, unparalleled freedom and free-for-all individuation. They can’t make any decisions, because they don’t know what they want, and they don’t know what they want because they don’t know who they are, and they don’t know who they are because they’re allowed to be anyone they want.
When a contemporary 25-year-old’s parents were 25, they weren’t concerned with keeping their options open: they were purposefully buying houses, making babies and making partner. Now, who we are and what we do is up to us, unbound to existing communities, families and class structures that offer leisure and self-determination to just a few. Boomer and post-boom parents with more money and autonomy than their predecessors has resulted in benignly self-indulgent children who were sold on their own uniqueness, place in the world and right to fulfillment in a way no previous generation has felt entitled to, and an increasingly entrepreneurial, self-driven creation myth based on personal branding, social networking and untethered lifestyle spending is now responsible for our identities.
To read on check out http://www.eyeweekly.com/article/55882
(Picture from eyeweekly.com)