A Quarterlife Crisis? Who—Me?

Is that a crisis ahead?

A while ago, a friend shared with me an article, Welcome to Your Quarterlife Crisis. I shuddered after the first two paragraphs; I felt queasy after finishing the article.  Is THAT what it is? I’m in a…quarterlife crisis (I’ll abbreviate as “QLC,” since, ya know, I’m a bit jumpy as a QLCer)?

Affluent youth who have education, social capital, cultural capital, and so many other resources—in essence, young adults who have options—couldn’t possibly claim a painful plight of mediocrity and apathy. It’s not a “crisis.” Ugh.

The first statement in the article that emotionally backhanded me: “An obvious choice for panicking twentysomethings with a post-undergraduate sense of displacement and for the ones that aren’t fulfilled by their jobs is grad school.”

Hm. I’m working on a Master’s degree right now.  Did I panic, and in a fit of anxiety apply to graduate school in hopes of prolonging my arrival at bona fide adulthood (whatever that elusive thing is)? I would like to say, “No.”

But… did I?

I was a super-duper-extra-special undergraduate senior at the University of Colorado, Boulder.  I thought it would be clever to earn both a BA and BS. I graduated and got a job in my field. Then, merely one year after I graduated, I began my Master’s. Before entering graduate school, I did indeed feel “displacement.” And I wasn’t intellectually or socially fulfilled by my job. So back to school I went.

Wow. The QLC symptoms actually fit.

With just a little research, I found news articles and opinion pieces, blogs, magazine articles, books and fiction novels. Even Oprah had a television episode dedicated to the “Turbulent Twenties.”  This QLC business is being talked about.  But does the talk actually tell us anything?

I searched in academic journals—psychology, sociology, social science journals—to see if there happened to be any academic work surrounding QLC.  I didn’t find anything. That I didn’t find anything academic made the QLC theory that much more tangible, manifest, relevant: it’s a fresh concept. My generation is trying to figure out where it’s standing and where it’s going.

"ripercussioni" by emio_me under a Creative Commons license

"ripercussioni" by emio_me under a Creative Commons license

While the QLC symptoms fit, I don’t consider myself in anything resembling a crisis. Rather, I’m rockin’ a Quarter Life Crossroads. And at this crossroads, I choose to move—forward, upward, through, in-between and outward. Let’s get moving!

  • Happy Birthday! Happy New Blog!

    Labels are for jars and not for Caligaters :-)

    You will make each moment, hour, day your very own by what you bring to the table of life and thru what you take away from each experience.

    As your birthday challenge (what? no one told you about a birthday challenge?) I challenge you to make this year your very own by defining it on your own terms.

    And judging by the content of your first post, I’d say you’re off to a smashing start!

    xoxo

    Kath :-)

    • Kath, You are always such a bright light. I’ll take your challenge! :)

  • Happy Birthday! Happy New Blog!

    Labels are for jars and not for Caligaters :-)

    You will make each moment, hour, day your very own by what you bring to the table of life and thru what you take away from each experience.

    As your birthday challenge (what? no one told you about a birthday challenge?) I challenge you to make this year your very own by defining it on your own terms.

    And judging by the content of your first post, I’d say you’re off to a smashing start!

    xoxo

    Kath :-)

    • Kath, You are always such a bright light. I’ll take your challenge! :)

  • Happy Birthday!! Labels are so overrated! You are breaking into the new year of your birth with the best attitude one can and each step you take is merely the launch pad for the next. Overthinking it will undermine you, so just keep moving to what feeds your soul and moves your mind; those in your generation that are edified likewise will find their way into your life. It’s quite magical when it starts taking shape.

    So enjoy the journey. You have people all around that what to get you there, too.

    Hugs!

    Deb

    • Wow, Deb. Thank you for your words — so encouraging. I love: “just keep moving to what feeds your soul and moves your mind.” I’m trying to do just that, and so far it truly is a fantastic experience. Thanks for being part of the journey.

  • Happy Birthday!! Labels are so overrated! You are breaking into the new year of your birth with the best attitude one can and each step you take is merely the launch pad for the next. Overthinking it will undermine you, so just keep moving to what feeds your soul and moves your mind; those in your generation that are edified likewise will find their way into your life. It’s quite magical when it starts taking shape.

    So enjoy the journey. You have people all around that what to get you there, too.

    Hugs!

    Deb

    • Wow, Deb. Thank you for your words — so encouraging. I love: “just keep moving to what feeds your soul and moves your mind.” I’m trying to do just that, and so far it truly is a fantastic experience. Thanks for being part of the journey.

  • kia

    Birthdays and crisis, how cliche. Right on Cali, Quarter Life Crossroads! Keep doing your thang Cali-style!!!

    • Ha! Cliche?! Nahhhhh! :) I’m glad I wasn’t having any sort of crisis at all on this birthday. A couple years ago? Um, maybe. This year? Nah. I had fantastic people surrounding me.

  • kia

    Birthdays and crisis, how cliche. Right on Cali, Quarter Life Crossroads! Keep doing your thang Cali-style!!!

    • Ha! Cliche?! Nahhhhh! :) I’m glad I wasn’t having any sort of crisis at all on this birthday. A couple years ago? Um, maybe. This year? Nah. I had fantastic people surrounding me.

  • This I say unto thee, QLC: Good day!

    I SAID GOOD DAY!

  • This I say unto thee, QLC: Good day!

    I SAID GOOD DAY!

  • PJ

    You’re such a friggin’ optimist. I love it!

    The blog looks awesome. Super super awesome. Good jorb. Happy Birthday Blog Day!

    • Thanks, PJ!! And thank you for planting the seed with the original article. This post goes out to you! And we’ll see about that whole “optimist” thang. If anything, I’m likely a critical optimist. ;)

  • PJ

    You’re such a friggin’ optimist. I love it!

    The blog looks awesome. Super super awesome. Good jorb. Happy Birthday Blog Day!

    • Thanks, PJ!! And thank you for planting the seed with the original article. This post goes out to you! And we’ll see about that whole “optimist” thang. If anything, I’m likely a critical optimist. ;)

  • First off, I love you. Second, I love your new blog beyond words. Third, it took me a few moments to realize that was an alligat(e)r with your hair.

    Finally, check out Po Bronson’s “What Should I Do with My Life.”

    • Ms. GB, I love YOU! I just checked out Po Bronson’s site, and the book is now on my wish-list. THANK you for the recommendation and for your kind words. You are one of amazing gang of people who have encouraged me to get my blog a-goin’. Thank you for all of your support.

  • First off, I love you. Second, I love your new blog beyond words. Third, it took me a few moments to realize that was an alligat(e)r with your hair.

    Finally, check out Po Bronson’s “What Should I Do with My Life.”

    • Ms. GB, I love YOU! I just checked out Po Bronson’s site, and the book is now on my wish-list. THANK you for the recommendation and for your kind words. You are one of amazing gang of people who have encouraged me to get my blog a-goin’. Thank you for all of your support.

  • Enjoy your quarterlife status! And take it from this half-lifer (ugh) it doesn’t stop. You will continue to question, freak out and grow and it’s all ok. Just take advantage of the freedom you have to do what you need to do.
    xo

    • Sage words, Amy. Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment. And I will certainly take it from a half-lifer (minus the “ugh” ;)) that the process is okay…and to make good use of what I have now.

  • Enjoy your quarterlife status! And take it from this half-lifer (ugh) it doesn’t stop. You will continue to question, freak out and grow and it’s all ok. Just take advantage of the freedom you have to do what you need to do.
    xo

    • Sage words, Amy. Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment. And I will certainly take it from a half-lifer (minus the “ugh” ;)) that the process is okay…and to make good use of what I have now.

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention A Quarterlife Crisis? Who—Me? | caligater -- Topsy.com()

  • This is a great post! I am 25, and I reached my QL Crossroads a few months ago. I read a great book titled: “My Reality Check Bounced!” by Jason Ryan Dorsey. The stories in the book gave me the confidence to admit that I was not happy. I was just riding along in life w/out making things happen for myself. I was a dreamer, not a doer.

    So two months ago, I gave away (most of) my possessions, quit my job, dumped my boyfriend (sorry, G!), and got on a one way flight from Portland, Maine to Denver.

    Things are awesome now! Thanks for articulating what many of us twentysomethings are going through.

    -Kate Brown

    Twitter: @invinciblekate

    • Kate – WOW. That is so impressive AND inspiring. It’s interesting you mention having the confidence to admit you weren’t happy; I think that is pivotal. Having the ability, support and tenacity to become a doer is tremendous. I’m truly inspired by your story!

  • This is a great post! I am 25, and I reached my QL Crossroads a few months ago. I read a great book titled: “My Reality Check Bounced!” by Jason Ryan Dorsey. The stories in the book gave me the confidence to admit that I was not happy. I was just riding along in life w/out making things happen for myself. I was a dreamer, not a doer.

    So two months ago, I gave away (most of) my possessions, quit my job, dumped my boyfriend (sorry, G!), and got on a one way flight from Portland, Maine to Denver.

    Things are awesome now! Thanks for articulating what many of us twentysomethings are going through.

    -Kate Brown

    Twitter: @invinciblekate

    • Kate – WOW. That is so impressive AND inspiring. It’s interesting you mention having the confidence to admit you weren’t happy; I think that is pivotal. Having the ability, support and tenacity to become a doer is tremendous. I’m truly inspired by your story!

  • Crisis schmisis. That doesn’t work as well in writing as it does verbally.

    Anyway… my boss (and mentor) calls it the rising or Saturn, or something like that. She says we’re all destined toward upheaval at the end of our 20s.

    Personally, I chose to have my big gay divorce, give away my house, and move into a 400 sf loft while I figured out that what I *really* wanted was to live in CO with my now wife. Phew. Glad I figured that out.

    It’s all a learning experience, I do suppose.

    And… HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

    And… wicked awesome blog. As we say back east…

    • Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU Elisa!

      Thanks for sharing a bit of your story. It does seem the consensus is that there is upheaval during our late 20s. I think it’s fun. For now. ;)

  • Crisis schmisis. That doesn’t work as well in writing as it does verbally.

    Anyway… my boss (and mentor) calls it the rising or Saturn, or something like that. She says we’re all destined toward upheaval at the end of our 20s.

    Personally, I chose to have my big gay divorce, give away my house, and move into a 400 sf loft while I figured out that what I *really* wanted was to live in CO with my now wife. Phew. Glad I figured that out.

    It’s all a learning experience, I do suppose.

    And… HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

    And… wicked awesome blog. As we say back east…

    • Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU Elisa!

      Thanks for sharing a bit of your story. It does seem the consensus is that there is upheaval during our late 20s. I think it’s fun. For now. ;)

  • See you at the crossroads…

      • But seriously I struggled with this for 3 years, two states, two girlfriends, several jobs before I really figured out who I am, what I love, and how I want to live life.

        Its a rough time and I think if you don’t force yourself to figure these things out you are just going through the motions of life, doing the next thing (grad school, moving in with a girl, marriage, kids, etc…) because its what you’re “supposed” to do in life.

        So, fuck that. Choose awesomeness, even if painful.

        • Tyler – Thank you for stopping by. And I *totally* had that song in my head. Now that you posted the video, I’ve been listening to it. :D

          Speak on, brother. I agree. I’m ready for pain if it means doing what I know I should be doing, rather than some predetermined Supposed To Be Doing.

          Thanks for visiting. Also, still need to hang with you and Carolyn at some point.

  • See you at the crossroads…

      • But seriously I struggled with this for 3 years, two states, two girlfriends, several jobs before I really figured out who I am, what I love, and how I want to live life.

        Its a rough time and I think if you don’t force yourself to figure these things out you are just going through the motions of life, doing the next thing (grad school, moving in with a girl, marriage, kids, etc…) because its what you’re “supposed” to do in life.

        So, fuck that. Choose awesomeness, even if painful.

        • Tyler – Thank you for stopping by. And I *totally* had that song in my head. Now that you posted the video, I’ve been listening to it. :D

          Speak on, brother. I agree. I’m ready for pain if it means doing what I know I should be doing, rather than some predetermined Supposed To Be Doing.

          Thanks for visiting. Also, still need to hang with you and Carolyn at some point.

  • Whatever you want to call it, a quarter life crisis is real. Labels, and however the characteristics are compartmentalized make it seem too simple though. Whoever it applies to, there’s soooo much more involved than simply going back to school because life doesn’t fit yet. How about actually figuring out what you *really* want to do? Is that part of a QLC too? It doesn’t really fit with “crisis” does it?

    Anyway, if there’s anyone who can navigate it, it’s the Caligater!

    • Such a good point, Eric: it’s especially not a crisis if one is actively figuring what to do. You’ve been there for this entire process. I’ve lost my head more than once or twice, but no doubt I’m on a trajectory that *I* have chosen…of course, with the direction of the Most High. :)

      Thanks for all of your help to make this blog happen…for the moral support, the encouragement, and the spurring. :)

  • Whatever you want to call it, a quarter life crisis is real. Labels, and however the characteristics are compartmentalized make it seem too simple though. Whoever it applies to, there’s soooo much more involved than simply going back to school because life doesn’t fit yet. How about actually figuring out what you *really* want to do? Is that part of a QLC too? It doesn’t really fit with “crisis” does it?

    Anyway, if there’s anyone who can navigate it, it’s the Caligater!

    • Such a good point, Eric: it’s especially not a crisis if one is actively figuring what to do. You’ve been there for this entire process. I’ve lost my head more than once or twice, but no doubt I’m on a trajectory that *I* have chosen…of course, with the direction of the Most High. :)

      Thanks for all of your help to make this blog happen…for the moral support, the encouragement, and the spurring. :)