I experienced a” Quarter life Crisis”. No shit, I really did. For a long while I was embarrassed about it, seeing as it’s a fundamentally dumb thing to experience. But now I’ve moved past it, I feel comfortable sharing my thoughts on what I think afflicts a large part of our young population.
It’s something like the already established and dreaded “Midlife Crisis”, but instead of buying a sports car, you wallow in a mire of self-doubt. The principles are the same; you are physically and emotionally acting out because you don’t understand your place or point in life, they just happen at different times. Prior to us Snowflakers, the “Quarter Life crisis” didn’t exist. We created a whole goddamn psychological event, that’s how entitled and spoiled we collectively are. For brevity’s sake, I’m going to go all government contractor on this and dumb this down into an acronym from here out: QLC.
For a somewhat long period after graduating college and landing my first “real” job, I felt the full weight of adult responsibility settle of my shoulders while I meanwhile struggled with a general dissatisfaction with how things had turned out. My life, unbeknownst to me, was amazing; I was financially sound, had great friends and family, perfect health, and an otherwise oft envied life.
But I would find it hard to rise from bed, dwelling on questions like, “is this it?” and repeating misguided mantra like, “there’s gotta be something more”, before I had even let the ink on my diploma dry. I found myself questioning whether I was “cut out” to do certain tasks and activities, and beat myself up over the fact that “other people seemed happy with the same lot in life”. Seriously, I’m not making this up.
It wasn’t until I had a conversation with my friend Justin, did I start to reverse my entire attitude and realign my thinking. He is an advocate of personal transformation to overcome problems, but it was something tiny he said (that he probably doesn’t remember that he said), separate from any major soul exploration, that changed everything for me. Three words, randomly dropped into the middle of a conversation: “There is more”.
Stupidly powerful. Of course there is, says that astute, educated, well-balanced reader, mocking my ineptitude and scoffing and my imaginary plight. And now I’m free of that negative bubble of thought, I mock me too. The old me of course; don’t dare mock the new me, the new me is awesome and will punch you in an uncomfortable location.
There really is more, more to everything, and more to thinking if there is more. The more already exists around you in some capacity, and it takes a simple realignment of how you view your world to start appreciating things as you should. My QLC ended as abruptly as it began, as I began to embrace and even seek opportunity for responsibility, acknowledging that life as an adult was, albeit shockingly, nothing like anything I had imagined.
Unfortunately, my growth created tension with those I still associated with, who were either in the middle of their own QLC or had yet to acknowledge their QLC. They saw my turn towards adulthood with pride as a challenge to their mental situation, and in turn alienated me. Instead of seeing (or asking if) I had experienced the same, they decided to be vitreous with envy, poisoning what had otherwise been a mutually symbiotic and fun relationship. 4 different “friends” did this to me, because they were so overcome by the “struggles” of their QLC. I hope they eventually got passed it, and if not, I hope they enjoy being perpetually stuck wishing they were still little kids.
Our parents and teachers tried to create a world for us; one free of mindless violence, debilitating failure, and other emotionally scary things. They sought to create an emotional sandbox for us, a place where we could dig, play, and ultimately build ourselves perfect little castles. They failed to mention that sand is a shitty construction tool, something as weak and common as rain eventually destroys anything you build, and everyone once in a while, a cat takes a dump in your sandbox.
The cat turd is metaphorical. It’s not all philosophical cat turds, but there are plenty out there, waiting for you to shovel up and build them into your castle walls.
I’ll save the real fecal humor for another time. My point is, the world our elders created does not exist. It exists in parts, here and there, and at times you can find perfect solace or happiness in a person or activity. But to assume your whole life will be that way is self-destructive folly. It is this disillusionment that fuels most QLCs; the lofty dreams you’ve been pining after over for 4, long, gruelling years are finally about to be realized…at $32,000 a year.
I think that most QLCs stem from one of two reasons: people lying to themselves about who they are and what they want, and people expecting more of themselves than reasonable. Out of college you aren’t worth very much. You’re thrown into a pool of other possible applicants hundreds of thousands deep. There is barely any water for you to swim in and you’re too concerned with not drowning to consider getting out of the pool. So you flail about stupidly, hoping someone moves from their position creating a slightly better situation for you, or something eventually reaches down to grab your arm and free you from the fleshy, watery tomb.
I’m here to tell you, as countless self-help books, and people who don’t suck also will: No one is coming. It’s on you. Not a single person is coming that will help you get where you want to go. Sure, people, your parents, your friends, might come help you towel off or give you some floaties, but eventually it’s back in that pool for you. Even if someone you know gives you a job, you’re still nowhere, as you’ve achieved nothing of note, and still need to perform to keep or advance in said job. Until you start actually trying to swin and moving along through that pool, you won’t be satisfied, and won’t achieve anything worth bragging about at the 5 year high school reunion which is totally coming up so you should like, lose some weight.
If and when you do manage to doggy paddle to the deep end, you’ll find it’s much less crowded, as all the other people either decided that swimming sucks and gave up, or just straight up drowned. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be better for the hard work, and you might even get a few minutes to casually backstroke around in your new found freedom.