I have a really good friend who went through a typical Quarter Life Crisis and yet still maintains the QLC doesn’t exist. He was in grad school for and making money in his chosen profession when he realized it just wasn’t for him, quit school, quit his job, moved across the country and started over. He’s now a professional musician and lives one of the most enviable, inspiring lives of anyone I know.
I remember when he was going through his QLC, partially because I was on the cusp of my own. We used to call each other, frustrated and unsure, comparing the messes of our love lives, the unfulfillment of our career lives, and the fears that were plauging us. We bonded over a shared ickiness. Classic QLC, right?
The difference between him and most people I know who’ve gone through a QLC (including myself) is that he refuses to call it a crisis. Even when he felt icky and frustrated and was not making enough money to live on, he saw his life as an adventure and this unknown stage of it as just one somewhat frightening, giant decision between many thrilling options.
To quote him (thanks, Facebook!):
We have this amazing opportunity (unlike previous generations) to do whatever we want with our lives but we tend to spend so much time and energy talking about how hard it is and getting angsty because we “don’t know what to do with our lives.” …These are opportunities! Amazing, wonderful opportunities! …I wish more people our age perceived it in such a manner.
Wise words, no? It makes me want to take action, any action, try and fail and try again. It’s all ok. It’s all part of really living life. So inspiring!
I get it, though, we all know logically that this is a time of exciting possibilities, but it’s hard to keep that in mind in the middle of it, while it feels like the life you know is crumbling around you and everyone you look up to is looking down on you disapprovingly.
We have so many more options and comforts and safety nets than the generations before us, and the freedom they give us is both exhilarating and overwhelming. But add to that the fact that we’re bucking the norm in a society that has always expected people our age to put our nose to the grindstone, get a job, start a family, stop “goofing off” and grow up already, makes it a lot harder to see that freedom as a good thing. We’re swimming against the current, and that can be exhausting.
I think that’s really where the “crisis” comes in. It’s a crisis of understanding and communication. It’s the difference between generations, and it’s always existed, ever since the first teenager argued with the first parent. With each generation we’re evolving as a race, and we have the luxury to find our happiness, which our grandparents, and parents, didn’t have to the same extent.
It can be difficult feeling like you’re not living up to expectations, you’re letting the people you respect down, you’re “behind” on the timeline of normal life. It can be frightening feeling like you have no role models and you’re forging your own path through the uncharted wilderness of creating the life you want, a life you’re scared to think is even possible. I used to feel that way ALL. THE. TIME. …until Stratejoy.
You ladies are my role models. Molly especially. All my fellow writers and all the commenters and all the blogs I’ve found of women making it happen on their own terms show me that I may be forging my own path, but I’m doing it right alongside other amazing people, and it’s not so scary.
It’s time for a paradigm shift. Forget what other people think, forget societal “norms” (we’re changing them this very minute anyway!), forget what you thought you wanted or where you thought you’d be; take stock of the incredible freedom you have right now, and all the opportunities you can take advantage of in your life. This is no crisis!! This is the BEST THING EVER!!
So I’m with Lindsey, I think we need to come up with a new name for the QLC. Quarter Life Celebration, Quarter Life Exploration, Quarter Life Speedbump, Quarter Life Fuck Yeah!
What do y’all think?
Meanwhile, I’m going to follow the example of my inspiring friend and take action. I’m just gonna go for it and drink up what life has to offer, say yes to all opportunities, and find exuberant joy in the unknown. Life isn’t a race to the finish line of “adult benchmark goals,” life is meant to be explored and enjoyed. This time of my life is amazing, not a crisis. And if I make a few mistakes, well, that still won’t make it a crisis.
We’re strong, we’re smart, we’re free, we’re young — let’s do this shit.