I wanted to share with all of you a phenomenon that I truly believe is starting to happen to people in their early twenties right now, a quarter life crisis. This is totally different from what we usually refer to as the mid-life crisis.
What is a quarter life crisis? It has nothing to do with buying a motorcycle, or piercing your ears for no reason. It’s mostly a period of paralyzing indecision and the sudden realization that you are supposed to act like an adult and have a job that pays the bills on time. It’s trying to go to sleep at a normal hour because you know that you have to get up for work early the next day and being unable to fall asleep because you keep thinking to yourself, what if I’m going down the wrong career path. It’s crying and panicking because of your indecision and looking up the possibilities of new jobs only to realize that you aren’t qualified for your dream job. It’s realizing that there are other people your age who have not put in as much work as you have and have plenty of money to support themselves based on skills you know you have but haven’t been recognized for. It’s knowing that you want to hang on to every dream you have ever had and now knowing how to accomplish everything you want to in the finite time given to us on this earth. This is not an ongoing feeling; it’s not depression. At 24 years old, I’m perfectly capable of being a rational, happy and content person who knows that I am climbing a ladder to something better and that my employment at two jobs that don’t pay all that much is temporary. I know how to realize that I do like my jobs and I like what I do.
However, the panic and feelings of inadequacy pass and I go back to living my life as I always have. But there are sometimes nights where I spend hours researching different career paths or contemplating whether I am going anywhere in life right now. There are waves of overwhelming guilt for having to financially depend on others when I have always prided myself on my ability to be independent of assistance. I have thought of everything from “Oh my god, I haven’t done a play in almost a year, I have failed as a performer and I have failed my past self. Is my passion for theatre gone? No of course not, better check the audition boards, oh wait, I have to work and pay rent, no time for a play” or “Oh my god, I packed up and moved to Florida, what if I can’t find a stable job? Should I move back home to PA?” “Should I go to grad school?” “Should I travel the world?” It’s unfortunate, but in my mid twenties, I feel like everything has to be accomplished right now. You start to see your friends getting married and having kids and wonder if there is something wrong with you that you don’t really want that yet. What generally triggers the panic and feelings of inadequacy is remembering where your parents were in life at your age or encountering people who have made a name for themselves in their careers already and have a life plan all set out. You start to freak out and thing that you will never get it together. You think, “What if I look back on my early 20s with regret”. Now I already know that I won’t but time moves differently in your early 20s, for some reason, it seems to move really fast and you feel like you don’t have enough time to accomplish what you want to and you panic about mortality and all sorts of things. Mostly, you realize for the first time that life is short and you want to make something of your time here. You feel like everything needs to happen now.
I have linked some articles down below about the phenomenon of the Quarter Life Crisis for you guys to check out. I don’t know about other people born in the 90s, now in their mid twenties, but I think quarter life crises are definitely something that lots of people experience.