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I'm In My Quarter-Life Crisis. So What?

What were you doing five years ago?

I was sitting at a desk. Surrounded by folks pursuing a similar purpose: Writing and submitting loads of papers – all to achieve that one singular paper a couple of years later. A paper fated to hang on a wall or reduced to a short sentence in a section of a resume.

Once you finished college, maybe you were hit with the same question:

I did the thing. Now what?

Read it again: I did the thing. The thing tirelessly promoted throughout high school. The thing the adults in your life expected, or at least wanted, you to have your sights set on.

After all, it is a milestone – isn’t it?

Milestones. Those life events you feel an internalized pressure to achieve within an x amount of time.

You stay behind desks up until about 18. If all goes “according to plan,” you’ll spend the next four years sitting behind more desks, this time with a price tag worth tens of thousands of dollars. Then, you’ll indefinitely be sitting behind another desk (if you’re even sitting down at one at all) to pay it all back on top of everything else. 

Jeez, uh… What were we talking about again? Oh, right. Milestones. 

The “Crisis”

There’s another sort of milestone we acknowledge. The ones that, as we get older, we wake up and might experience existential disbelief the morning it happens.

Milestone birthdays.

There’s the sweet 16. The 18th birthday. Then, at least in the U.S., there’s 21. 

Then 30. 40. 50. 60… Keep counting by the decade.

But there’s also the “crisis” years.

We all have heard about the midlife crisis—the luxury cars with the sunroof. The articles of clothing that cost more than someone else’s entire wardrobe. You know, the stereotypes.

This month, I have entered what is known as the quarter-life crisis. A period of time where I am supposed to feel like I’ve lost the plot. That I don’t know who I am or what I’m really doing in this repetitive cycle we call life.

Rather than discuss the concept itself (which is a valid thing to sort through and have a dialogue about), I’ve always wanted to know why we allow time and age to persuade our actions.

There has always been an emphasis on time and what we “should” be doing once a certain stage of our life is reached: When to do something. When to not do something. You are too old to be doing this. You don’t have the time for [blank] when you should be working on [blank]. What do you mean you’re [insert age] and have never done that?

Sure, age can bring a lot. More birthdays reached indicate that you’ve experienced more things. More bitter truths you’ve learned. More responsibilities. More health appointments you’ll be urged to schedule. 

But that shouldn’t mean you missed any boats to experience something – nor should it have obstructed any future ships from docking.

Keeping the Candles Lit

On the day I turned 25, my first troubling thought was: “Five more years until 30”. 

If you are somewhat older than me, I can hear you cackling. Maybe one day, I’ll look back at this and be right there with you.

However, I believe this apparent dilemma of mine further enforces our inevitable encounter with aging. How it influences the topics I’ve been typing away at throughout this entire entry. 

Because once you hit a “milestone” age, you can’t help but assess the current circumstances of your life.

Am I an adult? Sometimes I feel like I need one — but yes, I am one.

Am I what I imagined myself five years ago? Hell no. But I am doing okay. 

Am I lost? Only lost in thought (for the possibilities to come.)


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