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November 4, 2013 / MissSteele

Quarter-Life Crisis, You Say?

Many of my loved ones are seemingly pushing through some rather bizarre versions of a well-known phenomena called the “quarter-life crisis.” Not-so-coincidentally, this is a big reason why I haven’t written in a while. I have been so consumed by the surreal happenings of my friends, that my mind decided to leave for a while. It’s almost as if I have lost it while trying to help my friends search for their sanity they all seem to have dumped like a bad prom date in these recent weeks.

Let me just say- I get it. Really, I do. Your early twenties are, to put it delicately, fucking awesome. Of course, everyone is different, and many will disagree, but for many people, your early twenties are a magical time. It’s a time when you are old enough to be independent, but still young enough to have summer breaks. It’s a time when you are old enough to drink in a bar, but still young enough to not care that in the morning you will feel like a grizzly bear beat you senseless with a wooden baseball bat then mauled you for good measure.

Yes, your early twenties are fantastic. When you are in your early twenties, you are filled with hopes, dreams, and delusions of grandeur because life simply has not caught up with you quite yet. You feel as if your whole life is ahead of you, which it is, and you just know you are going to make the most of it. You are going to be some big wig at a Fortune 500 company. You are going to own your own PR firm. You are going to become the greatest thing that happened to journalism since Brian Williams. You are going to be anything you want to be because that’s just how life goes.

You want to go to Prague for a summer? Well, that’s a great idea! All you have to do is sign up to study abroad and take out some more student loans. Who cares? Not you! You have no responsibilities that you can’t postpone for a few months. After all, everyone keeps telling you to ‘live it up’ at this age because it won’t be like this forever. You may as well heed their advice, right? Right!

Truly, you knew deep down that life wouldn’t always be as awesome as it was during those moments- those moments when you were sledding with cafeteria trays while drinking vodka from a Gatorade bottle, and taking naps in the middle of the day because your next class didn’t start till 3 o’clock and you stayed up all night watching a Dexter marathon. Yes, deep down you knew. But, you just didn’t realize how truthful those people were being when they told you it wouldn’t be like that forever.

And finally, the day comes. You graduate college, and are forced to move on with your life. Sure, you are still young, so your adorable delusions of grandeur haven’t yet slipped into oblivion. Perhaps you are one of the lucky few who are able to obtain a job you actually envisioned for yourself. Good for you! You certainly think so, don’t you? After all, this is why you went to college in the first place. You will most likely feel pretty great about yourself whenever you see your fellow alumni working at a convenience store because it was the only job they could find. Hey, times are tough. People do what they have to do, but you are one of the few who didn’t have to list their college degree on a resume submitted to Burger King.

 

I went to college. I am also heavily medicated to mask my true level of disappointment in myself.

I went to college. I am also heavily medicated to mask my true level of disappointment in myself.

Even still, you long for your college years. You can’t close the bar down on a Wednesday night, you have to be at work in the morning. And you have to actually look nice and your job sort of depends upon your performance, so you can’t be sluggish. Damn, that does sort of suck. Oh well. That’s just life. Then, you begin to realize that you won’t be having any sort of ‘spring break’ this year. No impromptu trip to Cancun for you. Nope, you have to actually wait a whole year to get a one week vacation! Don’t even mention the words ‘summer break’. No, no. Those are gone for good. Somewhere along the way, you had your very last summer. And you’ll never get it back.

And to think- you were one of the fortunate ones. But, what if you weren’t? Let’s say you were part of the vast majority of college graduates in today’s economy who had to take a job they didn’t want just to make rent. Hey, I’ve been there. Actually, I still am there.  It’s no secret that the majority of people say they are unhappy with their current job situation, so you can’t really be that surprised. But, you’re young, so you still have the lingering hope that your situation is temporary. You have your whole life ahead of you to make some changes, and you just know you’ll find something better eventually. After all, you have to pay your dues, right? So, you’ll suffer through it until you no longer have to. Whether you take a job as a low-wage assistant, a retail customer service representative, or a shift manager at a 24-hr convenience store- you tell yourself it is not permanent.

Sure, it’s embarrassing to see people you know when you are still having to wear a uniform with a name-tag, something you thought would be behind you after college. But, you get over it and trudge onward. Of course, some assholes people will say things like, “I thought you went to college?” or even worse, “Well, you should go to college and make something of yourself. Then you won’t have to work at a place like this anymore.” Ouch. Why don’t they just shank you with a rusty blade next time? It probably would feel better than that.

Then, of course, you have the option of either shamefully admitting that you are a struggling college graduate, or you can just humor them by agreeing that college sounds just swell to you. Or, you can explode like a shaken bottle of Diet Coke all over their ass and scream at them like a rabid Chimpanzee because you are beginning to feel like you have nothing left to lose.

Say it again, I dare you!

Say it again, I dare you!

Either way, you continue to work simply because you do not have a choice. You are an adult, and you have responsibilities you cannot ignore. At this point in your early twenties, you may not yet be married or have children, but you sure as Hell have bills to pay. Remember that sweet college experience you were fortunate enough to have? Well, it’s here to bite you in the ass in the form of student loan payments. So, a large chunk of your paycheck from your shitty job is going to pay for your college education that now seems to be making a mockery of you.

You long for the days when you were carefree and studying for finals was the worst thing about your life. You spent 4 years living in a beautiful dream world where declaring art as a major seemed like a great idea and ‘finding yourself’ was your number one priority. Then, you wake up one morning after working the same lackluster job for three years and you suddenly have no idea who you are anymore. You can vaguely remember a time when you had spark and vibrancy about yourself, but that seems like an eternity ago.

Of course, it wasn’t that long ago, but you just feel so distant from your former self that you start to panic. When someone mentions an article they read in Time Magazine, you hear yourself utter the words, “I used to want to be a journalist like that.”  Hold on- what? USED TO? When did that happen? I’ll tell you what happened- you can no longer say, “I’m going to be a journalist like that,” and actually believe it. That’s pretty much the turning point when you realize you let your dreams die. Then, the reality sinks in: this is my life now.

Enter quarter-life crisis.

Now, everyone is different, but it would appear that many people struggling through a quarter-life crisis make choices resembling those made of someone going through a mid-life crisis. However, instead of buying an outlandish sports car and getting hair plugs, people in a quarter-life crisis contemplate their life purpose and self-worth on an hourly basis while trying to browse through Facebook without crying because everyone else seems to have their lives together and the most accomplished thing you have done in three years was not fall into a wood chipper by accident. You can feel yourself settling into your newly-found crap-bag of a life while your dreams slowly float away and you have no idea how to stop it.

Yes, your mid-twenties hit you like a sack full of fart-scented bricks. It’s a rough transition to becoming an adult, and your mid-twenties love to remind you of it each and every day. You start to wonder if your best years are behind you, and it sort of sucks the small glimmers of hope you had for your life right out of your butt. You no longer look like you did in high school, your 10-year reunion is only a couple of years away, and you have to check the 25-35 box when you fill out a survey. You are now lumped in the older category. For God’s sake- you are now too old to be a contestant on  American Idol! Too bad, you missed your chance at stardom. Hell, if you were a model, they would have taken you outback and shot you like a racing horse with a busted leg by now.

However, the actual number assigned to your age is not the biggest threat of someone going through a quarter-life crisis. It really only boils down to one thing: you are not where you think you should be by this age. This thought can fling even the most level-headed person into a violent volcano of neuroses. Life isn’t as it was in your early twenties, where life felt infinite and you had all the time in the world to figure your shit out. Nope, you are getting older by the minute, and the crippling fear that you will wake up at 40 and wonder where you went wrong in life is growing nearer with each passing day.   

Even if you are in your mid-twenties and have a fulfilling career, there’s a pretty good chance your life isn’t where you thought it would be by now. Perhaps all of your friends are engaged, married, pregnant, or parents. And you are still scouring the dating sites trying to find someone who doesn’t look like a serial killer. While you may relish your freedom and enjoy being single, there comes a certain point when it no longer feels great to be the only one out of your friends who isn’t attached. And, by your mid-twenties, the majority of your friends will at least be in a long-term relationship, if not already engaged.

Then, you have discovered the cold, hard truth: you are now entering the age bracket where it is considered ‘odd’ not to be seriously involved with anyone. Personally, I do not think there is anything odd about being single at any age, but for some, being single can feel stigmatized. They believe people will question why they are still single at an age where everyone around them is registering  at Bed, Bath & Beyond for overpriced towels and gravy boats they will never use. They feel as though people will judge them for being single, like something must be wrong with them, which is why no one has come to valiantly snatch them up yet.

Also, you can’t just go out with your single friends like you used to…because you don’t have any single friends anymore. All of your friendly get-togethers are comprised of couples. Then, whenever you go out as a group, you are the only one who has to admit to the waitress you are ‘by yourself’ when she is printing the checks. To make matters worse, your dating pool is shrinking before your eyes. When you are twenty, theoretically, your dating possibilities are endless. You are in the prime of your life, and you have years before you have to worry about dying alone. So, you can afford to be picky. If you pass one up, another will come along. However, once you reach a certain age, you feel lucky just to have the stinky cashier at 711 ask for your number. Of course you don’t give it to him, but it’s just nice to know you have options.

So, perhaps it is these reasons and more that many of my friends are going bat-shit insane lately. As to not violate anyone’s privacy or just not to be a giant douche, I won’t reveal who these certain friends are, or what they are doing, but you know who you are. And, for those of you reading this and thinking I am on a bit of a high horse, you couldn’t be further from right. I never said I was above having a quarter-life crisis. How do you think I knew all of these things, anyway?

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6 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Jamie / Nov 4 2013 11:11 pm

    Damn, girl. You hit the nail right on the head!

  2. snoogiefisk / Nov 5 2013 12:47 am

    I got hosed. I missed the quarter-life crisis. I decided to marry a crack head and support him in my early twenties while he worked sporadically . Seemed like a brilliant plan at the time. Living on beans and figuring out what he pawned today. Sigh…. I get your pain though. While I was young and worked at Wal-Mart one of my co-workers had a law degree. They wouldn’t let him run a register though. He had the personality of a rabid skunk and therefore wasn’t good enough to scan groceries. Good thing he spent eight years in college!

    • MissSteele / Nov 6 2013 3:16 pm

      Well, you clearly don’t know what suffering truly is then! lol jk. Obviously, a “quarter-life crisis” is a cake walk compared to many other scenarios. I suppose the reality of the situation is: if having a quarter-life crisis is the worst thing happening to you in your twenties, you are lucky. And a rabid skunk, huh? He sounds angry…

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