For those who have not yet heard my lamenting: since a few months I have been struck by the full force of Quarter Life Crisis. ( “Really Clarissa, what was that thing you did two years ago? Oh, that was just a mix of the Fear, anxiety and depression? Oh ok, thanks for clarifying.”)
Yes ok, so perhaps I have had the longest drawn out QLC in the history of mankind, or maybe I have just an angsty nature. Fact is I am heading towards the big 2-5 and for the first time in my life I am dreading a birthday. Well that is not totally true, I have flashbacks on tears before my 15th – see a pattern here?- because I didn’t want the rest of my life to be as shit as it was for me at 14… Jeeeesssussss! Anyway, the scary part of that lovely anecdote is that it took place 10 years ago.
When you google quarterlife crisis, you’ll actually find quite a few articles on the subject. ( I stopped reading the one on the ABC network website, because a) it focused fully on Americans – as if there was no other kind of human being in the world b) it also had two ads on the same page promoting Barbie and Ken as well as half nude pictures of Hot Mormons.)
There is one article on Eyeweekly.com that cheerily opens with Welcome to your Quarterlife Crisis. We even have a whole website quarterlifecrisis.com that is wholly dedicated to the victims of the crisis. They claim that Abby Wilner was the first one to coin the phrase and she even made a book out of it. Well done Abby, I’m sure that actually pulled you out of it: it is amazing what money and more importantly a sense of purpose can do for you.
Because that is usually the crux of the issue here, quarterlife crisis is mainly a crisis brought on by a sense of being lost. You can go anywhere you want in this life but you have still no idea which way you want to go. Eyeweekly calls it the crisis of the urban, well-educated middle-classes; leaning heavily towards a verdict of a luxury disease. Which of course in a way it is: I can hardly imagine a 25 year old woman in war-torn Africa/Asia/outback who was plunked in an arranged marriage at the age of 12 and who is living in a refugee camp with her six children and one baby on the way, to sit down one evening and go: “Man, I wonder what I should do with my life.”
She has no choice and I do. Life’s not fair and don’t we know it. I get that. I get that in the grand scheme of things, this is not really important. Yet to say: just get on with it then, as Eyeweekly does (“it might just be time to grow the fuck up.”) is just a little bit too simplistic for my taste.
The phenomenon not just a figment of my over-elaborate imagination. (Hey, people even made a soundtrack to this thing.)
I also don’t like the fact that in a lot of articles, people resign themselves to a life that is not what they dreamed of, as by shining example an Urban dictionary contributor notes:
Once one realises that life hasen’t neccessarily [sic] let them down and that their hopes and dreams were just that, hopes and dreams, but the reality has simply granted them a more down to Earth/realistic life, they’ll accept it and hopefully be happy for what they have and stop lamenting over what they never could realistically have achieved in life.
Ouch. I’d like to save that for my mid-life crisis thank you.
In my opinion, people wrongly perceive the ‘giving up hopes and dreams’ for more ‘realistic’ expectations to be ‘growing up.’ That is not what I believe ‘growing up’ is about, that just seems a fatalistic philosophy that will come and bite you in the arse when 40 comes looking around the corner. Growing up is the experience (the verb, not the noun) that shapes your thoughts and the way you live life. Growing up is life, growing up is perhaps even the mental equivalent of the physical growing old.
I found that a QLC is just that, a crisis that occurs in your mid-twenties when you still have ‘75%’ of your life to go. (To die young and leave a beautiful corpse is a myth – believe me) It’s painful because for you get presented with mortality and fleeting nature of time. Allow yourself a moment (or a couple of months or, in my case, two years) of sheer panic. Cry about it, scream about it, blog about it, wallow in it. Love it. Hug it. Embrace it. Go through it, because there is no other way.
Finally, step back and take a breather (Holiday in the sun anyone?) Consciously start to take the steps to build and shape your life. As I will try to remind myself, when not hyped up on six cups of coffee to survive the four hours that it took to write this entry: life, as we know it Jim, hasn’t ended. On the contrary: it is just beginning and that is the exciting part.