Confusion, Chaos, and the Quarter-Life Crisis
It is the clichéd running joke among our Millennial generation. The quarter-life crisis- a transition characterized by the utter lack of “knowing how to adult,” the confusing time marked by a series of “in-betweens” applicable to everything from a job to a relationship to an apartment. We are expected to be productive members of society; expected to find love in a Tinder-fused hookup culture, manage a budget while being swallowed by escalating cost of living fees and piling student loan debt, pick a career when you’re either over or under-qualified, over or underworked.
I suppose it’s always been complicated in your twenties, and this time is no better or worse than previous generations. It is important, however, to recognize that we have new challenges that our families and society may not fully understand.
We are, arguably, living and moving at a faster pace with more options and possibilities than ever before. There are thousands of college majors to choose from, hundreds of people to swipe through to find connection, and an infinite stream of media influences telling us what we “should” be doing and how we “should” be living. We are living in a 24-hour, life-sized, all-you-can-eat buffet, but we are expected to practice moderation and wise decision-making. Let’s be honest. How difficult is it to achieve this at a buffet dinner?
We are sandwiched between dialectics. We want the Pinterest weddings, and we want the raunchy nightclub hookups. We want the stable paychecks, and we want to travel the world. We want to start families, and we want our independence.
And, of course, when you narrow it down, we don’t really know what we want. We want a little bit of everything, but we frequently find ourselves committing to nothing. We are in constant states of comparison, often crippled by FOMO (fear of missing out), measuring our lives through the pixelated images of our friends through our smartphones.
Because there are so many options, we often feel paralyzed and helpless. We feel anxious and overwhelmed, incapable and incompetent. We are terrified of making the wrong decision; we are terrified of failure, and we are terrified of missing out on something greater. Very few people follow a cookie-cutter pattern anymore. We are the generation that grew up believing we could be anything we wanted and do anything we wanted. We are the generation that was always told to believe in ourselves- that if you wanted something badly enough, you could have it.
No wonder so many of us are having “crises.”
I, myself, am smack in the middle of this transformative milestone. I also have my own privilege, because on paper, I look pretty good, with the stable career, family, apartment, and fiancé. But, I’d be lying if I denied having any apprehensions or fears about all of that or if there “could be better.” I’d be lying if I said there weren’t days I wanted to just live out of my backpack on the back roads of Europe
This blog post is for my fellow twenty-somethings, for my amazing, creative, and eclectic bunch. If you’re feeling lost, overwhelmed, and scared, my one disclaimer is: it’s normal. We all feel this way to some extent, and most of us feel it on a regular basis. It’s just a sign of change and transition. Emotions and reactions are to be expected. As for my one piece of therapeutic advice? Learn to trust yourself. After all, nobody really knows what they’re doing; we’re all stumbling around, living in the best ways we know how, following whatever rules best make sense, existing in the lifestyles that feel “most right.” Some of my most “accomplished” clients have been the most “lost,” and some of my “stumbling around’ clients have been the most happy. You never really know what somebody else is going through. And, if you’re still feeling stuck? Consider therapy.
It helps for centering and processing who you are and what you want. Because nobody can have it all, sometimes you just need to narrow down your options and pick the ones that most align with your core values. Sometimes, you just need a reminder that you are not a failure, that you can “adult,” and that, yes, you are worthy and valid.