Quarter Life Crisis

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.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/jessicamisener/10-signs-youre-having-your-quarter-life-crisis

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/emily-williams/the-real-quarterlife-cris_b_5553863.html?utm_hp_ref=quarter-life-crisis

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/quarter-life-crisis/

Being Unemployed

It took me quite a while to decide to actually write this post but here it goes. Technically, if you look at my employment record, I wasn’t unemployed, I wasn’t working though. It’s complicated. I finished back to back internships at Walt Disney World in June of this year. I found myself scrambling to find a home with the company because I could not extend my internship and the company did not have the space in the department to extend people to became seasonal or part time but I was told that I qualified to stay in the pool to be pulled for a Temporary Assignment in the department that I did my internship in and I LOVED my internship so I definitely wanted to do that. After several weeks of online applications (which feel productive and aren’t really), I finally applied to work in one of the resorts and got the job, the only issues were it was only part time and it did not start until July 6. That left me a month of a whole bunch of time. I was (and still am) trying to find a second part time job that I could work at while I wasn’t working for Disney. I only managed to get one interview, despite over 16 applications, the availability just wasn’t matching up. I looked for freelance writing, nothing, because the job market sucks, it’s unfortunate but it’s true, especially if you are right out of college, in the Orlando area (where there are a lot of us). Luckily, I have started working at the Disney job at the resort so I have left the insanity that is having WAY too much time on your hands.
Let me tell you first off…it’s not a vacation. It feels like a vacation for all of a week, if that. You can only watch so much TV, go to Starbucks so many times and window shop online before you really start to lose it and panic. I have the issue where I HATE asking for money, from anyone, I think it’s a pride thing, I really don’t know. What I do know is without the support of my family, I would be even more broke than I am now and I probably would have moved home to PA from FL. I cannot describe to you how many movies, tv shows and Youtube videos I watched during the month of June.
Why didn’t you go to the parks? People often ask me this. Even when you get in free, the parks are expensive, food for starters, especially for someone like me who needs to eat quite often costs a lot of money. And then there are the tempting souvenirs, and trying to find people to go with you. I did go a few times, for special events like the Frozen Summer Fun (but that really didn’t come up until the end of the period of unemployment), Star Wars Weekends and my birthday.
Let me explain to you why it’s really not fun. Bills still come into your mailbox and email box. Car insurance, credit cards, rent, electric, gas, groceries (you do have to eat), internet and student loans. I was lucky enough to have my loans adjusted, so those are on pause for a bit. Still, it’s enough to cause even someone as calm and rational but passionate as me to completely feel like there’s no end to the stress in sight. It makes you feel lazy, inadequate, and like you will fall into a hole of financial panic from which you will never recover. You question choices you otherwise never would (like staying in FL to work for your dream company for example). Now in retrospect, I should have asked for help when I needed it, but again with the pride thing. I felt like I should have it all pulled together now that I had graduated from college and had lived in a semi-adult state of life for several months. I felt like I was regressing and being thousands of miles from the people who are capable of helping you didn’t help. I became quite homesick and prone to quasi breakdowns. I did get to go home right at the end of my program which was lucky. I was under the impression that by 24, I should no longer be financially dependent on anyone else and I should be working or on the path towards the job I would have for the foreseeable future. Both of my roommates were (and still are) working full time in professional jobs, so again, there’s the feeling of not being as pulled together as them. I’m also an extrovert, meaning I get my energy from being around other people, so spending so much time in the house by myself also took its toll. I could have gone out…but again…gas to make the gar go from point A to point B takes money, which I was not making.
I’m sorry if this sounds like a whine fest and a sob story. It’s not meant to. It’s meant to make anyone who has also gone through this realize that they aren’t alone. It happens, the economy sucks. There are times where you may feel like a failure or ashamed that you aren’t making 5 figures. You’re not inadequate, you have nothing to feel ashamed of and it will end eventually. Mine only lasted a little over a month, but it felt like a lifetime. You will find a job that you love. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. I was lucky enough to have amazing friends and an amazing support system and I hope everyone who goes through this is equally lucky as I was. I learned a bit late in the game that going into a business to apply (though it takes guts) is much more effective than applying online. However, I know a lot of places have an online screening process that you can’t avoid. I know most of mine did. Take each day one at a time, keep making effort to find a new job, knowing that there is light at the end of the tunnel and breathe. I learned a lot about hobbies I enjoy during the last month and I started this blog, a YouTube channel and in general revamped my online presence. If like me, you have real issues accepting money you don’t feel like you earned, ask the people helping you if there is anything you can do in exchange so it doesn’t feel as undeserved. It really helps. For example, I’m helping my mom revamp her online presence and managing the social media for her business. While this phrase usually applies to a totally different topic, it does get better, I promise.