One quarter-life crisis coming right up. Would you like fries with that? Nevermind, your metabolism just ran out the door without saying goodbye.

A few months ago, I wouldn’t have recognized a quarter life crisis if it had hit me in the face. I’ve witnessed people’s “I’ve-just-turned-30-what-the-hell-have-I-done-with-my-life?!” crises and the occasional mid-life crisis. But a quarter-life one? Us twenty-somethings are at the prime of our lives! Right? Right?!

At the moment it seems I’m trying to figure out if I’m finally the person I always hoped I’d become, or if I’m becoming some warped version of myself that I’d never even considered, and if either of these versions of myself is a respectable individual.

Of course the grass is the greenest it’s ever been on the other side. I envy my best friend for nearly being done with her Master’s program while I’m barely beginning to research mine. I envy her for having a real job. For having the smarts. Though she thinks it’s “fantastic” that I finally let go and managed to recklessly scrape by for two dreamy years in Spain. Oh, and ended up in a nonsensical, long-distance, international relationship after declaring that no one should ever subject themselves to such emotional idiocy.

So after days-weeks-months of feeling deliriously happy one minute and on the verge of an emotional breakdown the next, I concluded I was either psychotic, or indeed experiencing this legendary crisis. In the end I decided on the latter – seeing as how my amigos were all going nuts in frighteningly similar ways – and googled the phenomenon.

Our good friend Wikipedia states [in a soothing pharmaceutical-commercial voice], “Characteristics of a quarter-life crisis may include…..”

  • insecurity regarding the fact that their actions are meaningless
  • insecurity concerning ability to love themselves, let alone another person
  • insecurity regarding present accomplishments
  • re-evaluation of close interpersonal relationships
  • lack of friendships or romantic relationships, sexual frustration, and involuntary celibacy
  • disappointment with one’s job
  • nostalgia for university, college, high school or elementary school life
  • loss of closeness to high school and college friends
  • financially-rooted stress (overwhelming college loans, unanticipatedly high cost of living, etc.)
  • a sense that everyone is, somehow, doing better than you

Sounds familiar, does it? Join the club. Now, before you decide to go and drink all your sorrows away, remember that you are not alone. And that your shriveled-up raisin liver cannot handle 11 shots of vodka the way it did when you were 22.

We may be in the midst of broken souls, broken engagements, hating our jobs, realizing that law school really isn’t for us, not wanting to conform, finding out that “real”-world dating can be a whole lot different than college-dating, and trying to figure out what our next big step will be (whatever it may be); but we’re also in the midst of greatness in the making. Our greatness in the making.

Someday this whole quarter-life-crisis thing will be a drop in the bucket. Until then, all we really can do is trudge ahead, give it our best shot, and brace ourselves for the next life crisis. Because rest-assured, there will always be another one waiting just around the corner.

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15 thoughts on “One quarter-life crisis coming right up. Would you like fries with that? Nevermind, your metabolism just ran out the door without saying goodbye.

  1. Yeah, this is what I felt like last year when I actually went to therapy.

    I still feel some things suck (e.g. I can’t handle that much alcohol or that little sleep any more, I don’t know when I’ll finish the darn phd thesis, I want to have a more stable life, omg will I live out my freedom some day BEFORE having kids, etc…), and sometimes I find myself longing for past times (ah the stability of childhood) or the future (ah the stability of living in a home with my boyfriend and having a real job), but I feel much better about it than last year.

    Just don’t be so hard on you. Life is now and not in the future, and in the future you don’t want to regret not having lived your life to the fullest ;)
    Everybody in between university and a real job is worried, it’s the same around me. But actually it’s of no use to worry!

  2. Love it!! I remember this happening to me too… and what made it worst was my dad saying, “hey, you’ll a quarter of a century today”. Yeah yeah yeah… you are right though, the crisis-es continue to come and we must battle them head-on. I’m sure you know, but what counts is the journey between those events and how we handle ourselves… since we only become stronger by facing them, they’ll get easier as they come. :-)

  3. Uh… shriveled up raisin liver is right. It’s so sad that I can’t mix liquor anymore. Seriously. I REALLY feel every shot these days. Boo!!!!

    But yeah… quarter life crisis. Bull shit. I simultaneously want this to be over and not over at the same time. It being over means I’m in my 30s… it not being over means I get to stay in my 20s. WTF?

    Thanks for this post, Mich. It helps with perspective. :)

    Keep writing. I forgot how much I love to hear your thoughts. Maybe I should start up a blog again to… make everyone read it. haha

  4. hey! sorry for my very delayed response. I love this post – you’re right. We’re not alone but for some reason, it always feels like it’s happening just to us. A good friend once sent me an email forward that was similar to what you said – it’s too long to post here! It sucks that life seems to be crisis after crisis but I think we’re wired to deal with them in our own way. It’s reassuring to know that there are so many awesome women out there just like yourself who think that there’s something wrong with them but in reality, it’s just a situation they’re facing and it too will pass.
    Keep your blog going – someday, all these quarter-life stories will make a great read! =)

  5. Intersting opinion, I’m 25, born in 1985 and though I can commiserate with you on some points I find myself on the other side of the fence in other ways. I left college half-way through to get married and have kids. So though I am extremely happy with my little family I often wonder what it would have been like to have finished college and still be single. You answered my question, as you are living the option that I did not take.
    In the end, kids or no kids, studies or no studies, 25 has got to be the greatest age out there! We are over acne, and not yet wrinkled, we are fertil, intelligent, energetic, innovative, too young to be made fun of for being old and too old to be made fun of for being young. Life runs in seasons and this season of 25 is full of potential. If you can’t enjoy being 25, tough luck on trying to enjoy any other age!

    • I agree!! 25 is a great age full of marvelous potential and I’m definitely enjoying this period in my life. But for many of us there are questions, and sometimes too many of them! Mainly: What’s going to be my next big step? Am I doing (or have I done) the right thing? It is also a time of many life changes: engagements, weddings, sometimes children, new jobs or hating current jobs, new academic routes, making a life in a different city, etc. So at this age, especially for those of us who aren’t quite settled yet, we have to endure the big question mark: WHAT’S NEXT?

  6. I’d never even heard of a quarter life crisis until a googling session a few weeks ago. I think I definitely had some form of mini crisis moment (I think a little too mini but enough that I was googling it…)… Hence why i’ve entered this blogging world. It helps I think. Nice blog :)

  7. I had very little anxiety turning 30 (I had just arrived to Italy, changed my life, ready to realize dreams….blah, blah) but this past June (my 40th) was definitely a stop-and-take-inventory bday. maybe – for you – experiencing some of this at 30 will help you glide effortlessly into the next big one :) !

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