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.
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!