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NOTES ON A QUARTER-LIFE CRISIS
I'm 22 years old. I'm in my early 20s, (yes, I know, not mids), yet I already feel in 'crisis mode', and to my surprise, I'm not that alone in this age and crisis. I know it's usually around the mid-20s, you can laugh at me and remind me of how I'm just 22, and I will happily agree with you, and then proceed to ask, "then why do I feel this way now?"
More than half of the people I grew up with have children now. People are engaged, having baby showers, getting married, getting divorced, and I can barely stand to put my clothes back on their hangers, and if I muster up the energy to do so, they will go back on the hangers inside-out, or something.
Not to say that I want their lives, because I don't. I don't want kids right now (god forbid, I just talked about not being able to put clothes on hangers the right way), I don't want to be engaged or married, matter of fact, I'm completely turned off by being in an actual relationship right now, anyway. I'm not upset about not having these things in my life. I'm upset about not being ready for them. Because being 'ready' for this stuff seems like a far-far away thing. I can't see myself ever being ready. And so then, I want to change other things. Why do I keep wanting to chop my hair off or bleach it, quit my job, move to a different place, find a job in a totally different field than what I painstakingly studied for three years?
I'm even upset about how I'm not 'qualified' enough for the mid-life crisis. I wish I had so much more in my life to sabotage. I don't have enough money to spend on something crazy like a yacht to run away in. I'm not married (can't sabotage that), in general, I don't really have enough money to afford to quit my obligations and find something else. I can only probably get a regret-tattoo or pierce something and change my hair. As my apartment's lease slowly approaches the expiration date, I continue to be overcome with a need to get the hell out of this place, and the worry of finding another apartment somewhere in this place (because, well, my job is here). Then I wonder why, because I love where I live, and I worked my ass off to find an apartment and job so I could stay here after graduating. The little quarter-life-crisis me is only screaming to throw all my hard work down a drain, no big deal. I also just keep wondering why I worked so hard to stay here. Why didn't I try to branch out, or save money crashing at my parents' place for a few months before leaving somewhere else? And yet quarter-life crisis's happen a lot to people who do just that because I guess we like to think of those years before thirty as a competition. I get that it may be hard to see college friends move on to stable jobs and their own apartments out of the dingy small dorms, but life's a process, is it not? You won't be stuck in your parents forever. I guess I have to remember how I won't be stuck here forever, it just makes me feel less valid to have a crisis when I'm living a life most people I know have a goal for.
Apparently, the quarter-life crisis begins around age 26. But I guess I just feel so immensely unfulfilled. And that's not surprising to me, my life and daily routine is not bad, I just am never happy with anything, what can you do?
But also, you don't need to have your life hanging on threads to go through any crisis. Society already makes us all insecure. Social media makes us feel FOMO (fear of missing out) on trivial photoshopped things. Comparison is the devil. Everything put out in the media basically makes us feel alone, does it not?
I personally just feel annoyed with this feeling because usually, a crisis starts after something, like breaking up with your high school or college long-term relationship, losing your job, or realizing you can't get a job, I don't know. Losing or not obtaining things that are put on a pedestal to validate oneself is a lot to deal with.
I don't even think of myself as a worrier. I've dealt with anxiety in the past and panic attacks, but on very specific things, and everything else about the structure of my life and what I am doing with it is a complete numbness to anxiety, I just have a very whatever attitude, probably to shield me from becoming more anxious, and I escape through other routes like drinking and smoking and overall being reckless, and since this helps in that area of shielding me from anxiety, then I suppose I connect being reckless with everything, even more, will make me feel like I have more purpose in life, or like I'm going somewhere or finding something in the midst of my chaos that will eventually make me happy feel secure, but that's far from the case, I know. Just like a mid-life crisis and cheating on your spouse with your boss or your kids' teacher or buying a fancy yacht or changing your whole look doesn't make you find any shiny penny or ah-ha moment of who you were meant to be in your life does. It just makes you reckless and probably more confused.
And oh how I wish I could write these articles about life and fill them with advice and insight but I'm still here trying to figure it all out myself. And I know that doing reckless things don't help, that channeling the crisis through side-hustles and other things that were once passions weather in college or high school, are better, and will probably help you find out what you really want in the end, it's just so hard to power through when you're burnt out from working long hours and still trying to navigate 'adulting'.
Maybe the best thing is to list off all the things that make you feel in crisis mode, things that leave you unfulfilled and longing of something else. Or things that make you feel like you're losing it. Everything you wish for, or whatever makes you feel less of what's expected to be a "sophisticated adult" or good at "adulting" and then reading it over and realizing how silly it is or how it may be easily obtainable (but we make it seem otherwise).
My mind is a rattle of
I want to lose weight
I want all my fast-made meals to go straight to my boobs
I want to have a body that doesn't look like a near dying college student surviving on Starbucks and granola bars, but I don't want to stop drinking coffee and eating granola bars
I wore a blue thong under my dress tights to work on a windy day and already feel like a failure
I want a decent partner but I only meet people passing on streets by bars or when I go out to smoke (and quite frankly I'm not that decent of a person myself, either)
I want to go to concerts and on road trips with my friends when I can't take off the time for work and everyone else is busy getting a degree or navigating adulting, too.
I want to start therapy but don't have the time
It's not that I don't have the time its that I'm too lazy to find one
I want to get back on medicating, but don't want to gain the wright
My eyeshadow is creasing from my one dollar primer instead of investing in a quality-adult-eyeshadow-primer
Thinking of washing my dishes is debilitating
I want to cut my hair off even though I know I would hate it
I want to hate it (apparently I want to wallow in more disappointment)
Every sweet potato I buy turns bad before I can use it
Honestly, the sweet potato thing really gets on my nerves.
But my problems aren't huge. Do we make them huge because for some reason we expect to not have problems at this point?
We already put ideas in teenage minds of how the twenty-somethings will be. Like they'll have a career by then and feel stable and 26/27-ish is when I hear most people saying they want to be married by.
Life's a mess. It's probably going to stay mess. Crisis-mode is Ok, so long as you realize it can't last forever, probably shouldn't last too long, and that comparing yourself is just gonna dig you deeper into feeling like a mess.
Aren't we all just trying to get by somehow? Just don't sabotage it all. You can make changes in your life without throwing the rest in the fire.
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I appreciate your courage in writing and sharing this! You are not the only one feeling this way.
Wow I love this. I'm just going to be completely sincere and say fuck comparing ourselves to other people! I'm going to be 25 in July and still never know exactly where I'm headed in life. And I feel like I'm just getting started! I'm at that point where almost all my friends don't relate to me anymore and the few that do are just like me. I took the time in my early twenties to travel and do whatever the hell I felt like doing. That really solidified my "I don't give a shit what everyone else is doing" attitude. Of course it's messy, stressing and frustrating. But all those people who are already living "stable" lives and form families, don't really seem happier either. So it doesn't really matter. What does matter is doing whatever we want to do in life. If we feel like going one way, go that way. If we want to start something new or go somewhere, do it. I literally filled a backpack up with clothes and left home telling my parents I was going to travel and play music around South America. I had no idea how long I'd be gone, if I'd ever even come back or where I'd end up (didn't have a lot of money either). Don't even know what I'm trying to say anymore. I guess the point is, that life is always gonna be challenging, we might as well do what we want and face our own challenges instead of living by other peoples standards. You can always start again or go on another path. Who sets the rules anyways? Society puts this stupid pressure on us that we have to have everything figured out by a certain age, but the truth is no one really does. Everyone follows the crowd because it makes them feel secure, but I wonder how "happy" or "secure" they really are. I personally prefer for the future to be uncertain but full of life and experiences that I choose to live. Thanks for sharing and sorry for the rant!!!
This is a really honest statement of where you are and that is good BUT there is no timetable about where you should be. Believe me, I've done my best work when I was much older than I "should have been." And while we're talking about should, -- forget 'should' -- grow, change, reflect at your own pace and be comfortable with yourself -- even your criticisms of yourself.
Honestly you're not alone I've been in a crisis since I was 21. I'm 24 now with a second kid on the way and not any closer to adulting right. Thanks for sharing.
I love your honesty. This is a great piece! Thanks for sharing!
Not bad advice and honestly some of this stuff doesn't go away once you have a family and have kids. I'm encroaching on 30 and there's plenty of stuff that I need to "make better" that I said I would do at 20, so it's just all a journey.