The next gripe on my list is a complicated, personal, and a somewhat scattered topic of discussion. Nevertheless, I’m going to attempt to explain how it has affected my life in the last two or three years.
If you feel somewhat confused about what a quarter-life crisis is, let me enlighten you on the subject. The quarter-life crisis (QLC) is a term applied to the period of life immediately following the major changes of adolescence, usually ranging from the early twenties to the early thirties. The term is named by analogy with mid-life crisis.
Characteristics of quarter-life crisis may include the following:
1. feeling "not good enough" because one can't find a job that is at one's academic/intellectual level 2. frustration with relationships, the working world, and finding a suitable job or career 3. confusion of identity 4. insecurity regarding the near future 5. insecurity concerning long-term plans, life goals 6. insecurity regarding present accomplishments 7. re-evaluation of close interpersonal relationships 8. disappointment with one's job 9. nostalgia for university, college, high school or elementary school life 10. tendency to hold stronger opinions 11. boredom with social interactions 12. loss of closeness to high school and college friends 13. financially-rooted stress (overwhelming college loans, unanticipated high cost of living, etc.) 14. loneliness 15. desire to have children 16. a sense that everyone is, somehow, doing better than you
I am experiencing problems with the following numbers: 3, 7, 8, 12, 14, & 16. Even more depressingly, I have been experiencing these characteristic symptoms for quite some time.
I want to explore these concepts for a little bit.
3. “Confusion of Identity” & 8. “Disappointed with One’s Job”
The summer I turned 18, I moved away from home in Florida to go to school in Utah. For most of this period, my undergraduate years, I was still somewhat dependant on my parents. It took nearly six years to figure out what I wanted to be, and in the fall after I turned 24, I graduated. In that same year, I got my first real job as a teacher. I returned to Florida, and moved in with my parents. When I turned 25, I quit teaching because I became disillusioned with the profession. I also, once again, moved away from home, because I valued my independence, and my desire to get back into school was strong. When I turned 26, this past year, I was back in school for graduate studies, and I had obtained a stable, but mind-numbing job. This sequence of events makes it easier to see why I feel the abovementioned aggravation and anxiety. Think of how many social, emotional, familial, and professional roles I’ve been in and out of in the last eight or nine years. There’s been a lot of adjusting, and I’m not sure it’s always gone as smoothly as I would have liked.
7. “Re-evaluation of Close Interpersonal Relationships” & 12. “Loss of Closeness to High School and College Friends”
Most of this particular portion of my crisis has to do with friends and circles of friends I’ve acquired during my college education. I feel the biggest adjustments take place when my friends graduate from school and/or singlehood.
School is, by definition, a temporary and liminal place (Word’s dictionary is inferior and does not include the word “liminal.” Liminal means the “in-between space.” For example, a doorway is liminal—you are neither inside nor outside, you are in liminal space.). In any case, because it is impermanent, you have to deal with the melancholy truth that one day it will end, people will leave, and all of those meaningful relationships, that seemly taught so much and gave such a semblance of identity, will change, and in many cases, disappear.
It is utterly depressing.
Why does this happen? Because life-roles change. I am still in the liminal space. I am still in school. I am still single. But my friends are going through that threshold, and they are exiting the liminal, and I can’t go with them. In the end, it just makes me wonder, “How do I deal with these changes and experiences when they make me feel like I’m losing my identity, and also, why do I feel like I’m running in place?”
Lastly, we have 14. “Loneliness” & 16. “A Sense That Everyone is, Somehow, Doing Better Than You”
These last two are more closely related to 7. & 12. than the first two. Loneliness has always been a problem for me. But I feel the issue is exacerbated by the loss of friends. It is difficult to be by yourself. It makes me wonder why I’m alone—which leads me to my last topic.
Why does everyone else seem to be happy? Why is everyone else getting married and having babies? Am I hideous? Are my masculine physique and mental prowess too intimidating? Have I been deluded all these years with my childhood hope that one day I would grow prettier and everyone else would grow more intelligent? If anything, I’m growing older and less attractive, and I’ve discovered that most people who had no affinity towards intelligence or desire to develop themselves are just getting dumber. I feel completely alone but surrounded by idiots.
As you can see this particular subject involves quite a few complicate gripes, and I don’t see many comforting solutions at the moment.