Tuesday, April 3, 2007
The Quarter Life Crisis
It is when you stop going along with the crowd and start realizing that there are a lot of things about yourself that you didn't know and may or may not like. You start feeling insecure and wonder where you will be in a year or two, but then get scared because you barely know where you are now.
You start realizing that people are selfish and that, maybe, those friends that you thought you were so close to aren't exactly the greatest people you have ever met and the people you have lost touch with are some of the most important ones. What you do not realize is that they are realizing that too and are not really cold or catty or mean or insincere, but that they are as confused as you.
You look at your job. It is not even close to what you thought you would be doing or maybe you are looking for one and realizing that you are going to have to start at the bottom and are scared.
You miss the comforts of college, of groups, of socializing with the same people on a constant basis. But then you realize that maybe they weren't so great after all.
You are beginning to understand yourself and what you want and do not want. Your opinions have gotten stronger. You see what others are doing and find yourself judging a bit more than usual because suddenly you realize that you have certain boundaries in your life and add things to your list of what is acceptable and what is not. You are insecure and then secure. You laugh and cry with the greatest force of your life. You feel alone and scared and confused. Suddenly change is the enemy and you try and cling on to the past with dear life but soon realize that the past is drifting further and further away and there is nothing to do but stay where you are or move forward.
You get your heart broken and wonder how someone you loved could do such damage to you or you lay in bed and wonder why you can't meet anyone decent enough to get to know better. You love someone but maybe love someone else too and cannot figure out why you are doing this because you are not a bad person.
One night stands and random hook ups start to look cheap and getting wasted and acting like an idiot starts to look pathetic. You go through the same emotions and questions over and over and talk with your friends about the same topics because you cannot seem to make a decision.
You worry about loans and money and the future and making a life for yourself and while wining the race would be great, right now you'd just like to be a contender!
What you may not realize is that everyone reading this relates to it. We are in our best of times and our worst of times, trying as hard as we can to figure this whole thing out.
I've definately experienced all of those emotions at one point or another. The truth is that I'm getting older and the changes are becoming more and more apparent every single day. Personally, I am starting to see the changes in the music that I listen to, the clothes that I wear, my decline in interest for clubbing (I have a good one or two years left in me), my desire to find someone that truly compliments me, my concern with investing and future finances etc. This is simply growing up.
Along with those things, however, comes those strong traces of uncertainty about the future. We are undoubtedly more fickle and nervous about our futures than previous generations ever were.
Why is this Quarter Life Crisis such a force within our generation, but seems to not have affected the Baby Boomer generation in the same manner?
In talking with Baby Boomers, most seemed to have joined the work force immediately after high school or college at around age 20, married by around 23, found careers by 25 and still had the time to raise us. They seemed sure of themselves and took charge of their lives early on. They were fiscally responsible and were family-oriented at a much earlier age. They seemed invincible and confident in their abilities to run the world.
But with our generation...
We seem to graduate at around 22, party until around 26, either marry around 28-32 or never marry at all, divorce at a much higher rate after three to four years of marriage, and change jobs an average of six to seven times by age 30. We seem to be more insecure about our futures and, in most cases, have no clue as to where we will be in life by our mid-30's. It seems as if we freestyle life. Shit done changed.
I don't understand it. What has changed so much for Generation X? Why are we not taking control of our lives at an earlier age?
I think there are several factors going on with the Quarter Life Crisis. First of all, I think that our generation was raised with unrealistic expectations in life. Too many of us expect the financial and material trappings to come easier than they really do. When they don't come, we find ourselves in a second childhood, using that time to find ourselves personally; whereas the Baby Boomers jumped into a cookie cutter life and either surpressed these feelings, or allowed them to evolve alongside their careers and families.
At the same time, I think it truly IS harder for our generation to find a decent career path. There often is no set career path - and the professions that do have one have become more demanding. A Bachelor’s degree is now the equivalent of what a high school diploma used to be. Before long, a Master’s degree will be required for most decent paying jobs. So things have gotten tougher and at the same time we’re a generation that is not as persevering as previous generations, and as result, we drift for a bit longer. This perceived professional failure then magnifies other naturally evolving areas of our lives and causes our generation to collectively doubt ourselves.
Yes... shit done changed, but maybe change is good. Maybe this Quarter Life Crisis will prove to be an asset to our generation in the long run. Maybe it will make us stronger and wiser. Maybe our true impact on the world is yet to be seen.