So, let me be the reassuring voice of wisdom for you under-30′s. Get it in your head now, because it makes everything so much easier later on: your quarterlife crisis is nothing but a test run that will pave the way for your more level-headed-though-still-conflicted post-quarterlife crisis which will do nothing but provide you with fodder for your inevitable mid-life crisis, and that crisis, from what I understand, is pretty much followed by just dying.
We’re always in crisis. That’s what being human is all about. Perhaps the eternal optimist, I like to think it’s all good for us: choices and options and opportunities and decisions and life paths and learning and growing and evolving and maturing and doing things to keep us moving in this universe – it should never cause mass hysteria that leads us to tears, lots of ice cream and dates with movies starring Julia Roberts.
Easy for me to say, now (possibly because I’ve evolved into a whole new kind of hysteria).
When I was in the thick of my quarterlife crisis, I switched majors four times. I had, like, nine different jobs – all of which, I basically disliked. I moved apartments like I was a petal, blowing in the wind: off to my next plot of land to seed and sow – for about four minutes (because damn that wind).
I changed cities – states, even – like owning zipcodes was a fad. I had a different hair style in every photo for about five and a half years, running. I yo-yo’d my weight like a Guinness World Champion and never really adopted a sense of style. Every day I was a new character in the life of “me” that I was trying to write. I had more – and then less – relationships than anyone else I knew. I was on drugs – prescribed ones – and then I wasn’t.
And then I was. And then I wasn’t. And then I was… because I was anxious. I was so anxious and if you’d asked me, I would have told you that the root of my anxiety was a mystery. But it wasn’t. I knew the source of it, exactly: life wasn’t playing out like I’d imagined it.
Like an afternoon spent wandering the aisles at DSW Shoe Warehouse, I just couldn’t find that perfect fit or style, and that clock – that damn life-clock – it was ticking so loudly… and for what? Where was I going and what was I doing and how-many-times-can-I-hit-snooze-on-this-life?
And then, at some point, mid-quarterlife crisis, things just sort of fell into place, like they do. Like they always do. And like I said, ask me any day of the week, and I’ll tell you my life is still in crisis: job, apartment, changing purses… it’s the same ol’ stuff. But I think, at some point, we learn to embrace it.
And I think that’s the key.
No matter what stage in the game you’re at, whether it’s changing your major seventeen times in one semester, or racking up frequent-flyer miles between Los Angeles and New York City because you “can’t decide where to live”, or switching jobs… or, even, just buying too many purses… or shoes, or expensive, fast cars, or cutting your hair or growing your hair or going to the gym or allowing yourself to go up a size or not settling down or just breaking up… I think all that stuff, and let me remind you that it is all just stuff… launches us into the next phase of who we will become.
And that, my friends, is what a crisis does best.