John Mayer sang oh-so-eloquently about a "quarterlife crisis" in his song "Why Georgia?," and his lyric was the catalyst for a cultural phenomenon. Hordes of unhappy twenty-somethings jumped on the bandwagon, lamenting their unhappiness and dissatisfaction in droves.
Now, I'm not one to put a damper on self-discovery, and I certainly don't profess to have it all figured out myself. But I'm greatly troubled by this phenomenon for a few reasons.
1.) It's not anything new. Why does our generation seem to think we're the first to have this experience? This is not something that John Mayer made up. In 1957, Jack Kerouac was writing about the "beat and evil days that come to young guys in their middle twenties."
It should as it's exactly what everyone is belly-aching about today.
Much as I'm far from the first one to write about this, our generation is certainly not the first to think these thoughts. So -- calm down. You're in good company. And our elders seem to have made it through (relatively) unscathed.
2.) It's not a "crisis." Questioning (your values, your relationships, your choices, and your life in general) is a normal and necessary part of growing up. How boring things would be if we all had it all figured out by age 18, then spent the next 60 years just 'hanging out.' Labeling it a "crisis" is certainly blowing things a wee bit out of proportion; uncertainty about the future is hardly a catastrophe or a disaster. It just seems that way because we're young.
There's little you could have done to have irrevocably screwed up your life by this point. You've only had 25 years so far. Just wait until we have kids to mess up and companies to run. It's at that point that we'll have a little perspective and re-think terming things "crisis" situations. Perhaps the mid-life version will turn out to be aptly named.
But -- most of all --
3. It's the wrong question. Aren't we asking the wrong question anyway? If 25-year-olds spent a little less time on the "what do I want to be" question and a little more on the "who do I want to be" issue, we'd all find ourselves a little better off. The questions prompted by the so-called "quarter-life crisis" seem always to be entirely job-centric. What company to work for? What job to take? What network to join? But what about what kind of person you want to be? What kind of spouse? What kind of parent?
You can change the city you live in. You can swap your boyfriend/girlfriend for a new and improved model. You can switch jobs.
But you're stuck with yourself for the rest of your life. So it seems like that's a pretty worthy investment.
But who knows? I could only be spewing this stuff to self-soothe, to make myself feel better about my unchartered path. I could be totally and completely wrong.
But -- hey. I'm only 25. I'm not supposed to have it all figured out.
One thing I know for sure is that my luck is not going much better.
Bought one lottery ticket.
Tomorrow's my day. I can feel it.