The mid-life crisis; an interesting phenomenon that always causes us to think of a middle aged man purchasing an impromptu red Corvette, toupee, blonde girlfriend, Botox or sky diving lessons. It’s often alluded to in sitcoms. Although the mid-life crisis is usually portrayed or told in jest, it highlights a very interesting inner turmoil that adults of a certain age experience.
However this intense time of panic in an individual is not only reserved for the middle-aged male or female. Today’s twentysomethings are experiencing the same pangs of fear; the fear that life has passed by with unfulfilled dreams, anorexic bank accounts starving for a deposit, and the insurmountable ubiquitous concern that life isn’t or won’t be more than our current circumstances. Or what Holly Golightly, in Breakfast at Tiffany’s refers to as “a case of the mean reads.”
Myself and countless friends have been finding our way in the world, discovering that reality is nothing like the sitcoms and romantic comedies promised us. Graduating college in the worst recession and economic uncertainties as the Great Depression, our young adult generation has found themselves in a perplexing personal and professional turmoil–the quarter life crisis.
I remember being in high school and looking at my older siblings at the age of 24. Assuming they had it all figure out. That after college comes your dream career, the incredible relationship that leads to marriage and the Dwell Magazine worthy, wooden floored apartment with bay windows and sky lights. When you’re 17, 24 feels and resembles a full-blown adult and now that I am touching this age with my very own fingertips, I realize how much of a child I still am; learning life lessons daily–not fun lessons like the sun always shines, honesty is the best policy and your parents love you, but the hard lessons like “you can always go back home," the lessons that leave your knees skinned and ego bruised and swollen.
My coworker once told me something that has terrified me since the words were uttered across our beige (ew) cubicle walls. “You should be out living, corporate America will always be here. Just don’t stay comfortable and end up living a life of mediocrity,” he said.
A life of mediocrity? I couldn’t help but fear he was sharing my life’s prophesy. I wake up at the same time every day. Leave work at the same time and let the emotional baggage of monotony light my fire...the fire to keep frantically searching for something else, something bigger, better and more worthy of the self sacrifice of working.
The “reckless” age of the 20s is always portrayed to be this wild time of sexual exploration; drug induced wild adventures that turn our late nights into early mornings. Another media induced facade, sure these years have brought me my fair share of rendezvous, some that I am proud of, some I am thankful to have forgotten come the morning sun, but they’ve also been saturated with hours upon hours of introspection, soul searching, career moves, and self-doubt.
The quarter-life crisis motivated me to strike up a continuous dialogue with people 10 years my senior, those lucky folks that have seemed to figure it out, their personal and professional lives have somehow morphed together allowing them to balance the dichotomy of work and love. They all laugh at my questions, not in condescendence but out of familiarity, for they have all been there.
Certainly jobs are hard to come by, but has our fear forced us to stay in positions that compromise our souls, personal ethics, and hearts? I believe so, we are being forces to sell ourselves short. While our parents’ generation stayed in the same profession, industry, or even company for the duration of their careers, the new generation has been raised in a world where start-ups and Mark Zuckerbergs have a chance. Of course we can’t help but feel there is more. That there are possibilities beyond our means and circumstances.
The quarter-life crisis is something we rarely see in films, hear about in college, or can prepare for in early adolescence. It’s something that all of us go through and have to experience, in order for us to truly know what we will tolerate, what our heart needs to have exposure to in order to continue pumping.
So my twentysomethings, keep trudging. I assure you life will figure out the little muddy details and you will have a life with the job that you are happy to go to and the person you are eager to sleep next to. While we may not have all that we want, it’s imperative to build the foundation for your empire and hold onto the hope that our shack will one day resemble a castle; a perfect interior and architecture that we have envisioned. Now is the time for us to build, make the investment in your future and with time it will pay off.
The quarter life crisis, isn’t forever. Dear God, let’s hope.