The first time you heard about the “quarter life crisis” was at a friend’s house party. “Quarter life crisis?” you respond sounding rather confused. “I thought that there was just a midlife crisis, where you buy a car that looks a bit wanky or get considerably bald or something.”
“Oh no,” your friend responds. “A quarterlife crisis happens around now.”
“What is it?”
“Well I’ve joined a gym and I’ve considered changing my job. I’ve also taken up wild swimming in lakes at 6am every Sunday morning. You see those marks across my chest there? That’s where they used the defibrillator. I started losing consciousness after I got hypothermia.” She starts looking at you open eyed whilst holding a sharp bottle opener. “I NEARLY DIED.”
You get home and you start to think about what she was saying. “Quarterlife crisis? That’s crazy,” you think to yourself. “Nobody else experiences that. It’s just something made up.” Just to be sure you Google quarter-life crisis on your phone. You know that googling anything to do with medical conditions will make you feel like you’re going to die in the next thirty seconds, but this is made up and therefore exempt, right? Wrong. 162,000 results get thrown in front of you within half a second, the top of which are self-indulgent Daily Mail articles, BuzzFeed lists, and the dreaded… Yahoo Answers.
You keep scrolling through. “Holy hell this is a thing.” You start to think about your current circumstances. And when I think I mean really think. You reopen the bottle of wine that you think belongs to your housemate and start swigging from it. How well are you doing at the moment career wise? You check your LinkedIn. You compare the number of contacts with your colleagues and people who added you from primary school. You check your bank balance. You’re so close to your overdraft limit you’re thinking that it might be a world record. You check your Facebook. HOLY HELL WHY ARE THREE PEOPLE YOUR AGE GETTING MARRIED NEXT MONTH THAT’S INSANE.
And that is when you join the gym. That is when you decide to start running every morning at 6am before work. That is when you start cutting your hair with your own scissors. Then at the party someone you haven’t seen for a while (who looks quite alarmed at the state of your hair) asks what you’ve been up to. “Oh I’ve been having a quarter life crisis.”
“Quarter life crisis?”, they respond sounding rather confused. “What is it?”
The circle starts all over again.
Don’t get me wrong: you might be feeling a bit broken at this stage of life (I know I am), but I find the whole concept of a ‘quarter life crisis’ a bit fake.
Firstly, on social media you’re bound to experience feelings of utter despair. You’re potentially connected to thousands of people at any given time. Some of them are obviously doing better than you, some of them aren’t. Facebook is looking at photos of a doomed crush knowing that he or she won’t ever reciprocate; not for comparing yourself to others.
Now let’s look at the marriage thing. Let’s say you’re connected with 562 people on Facebook and three of them get married over a three month period. They all do the “SHE SAID YES” photo with 193 likes etc. etc. There are stilll 559 people who haven’t done that yet and won’t do so for quite a long time (I would attempt a probability calculation here to emphasise my point but I got a C at GCSE and wouldn’t want to risk it again.) Remember, these people getting married also might be at the age that people got married just after the end of WWII i.e. very early.
Finally, you might be feeling a bit held behind and frustrated because of the consequences of the recession. I hate writing that, because I’m bored of the topic and I know you are too, but it could be true. You might be undergoing a never-ending internship. You might be trying to get into a contracting industry or you’ve got a job, but your wage never goes as far as you want it to. Or you might just not be at the stage in life where you thought you wanted to be right now. That’s just a phase, an ongoing problem for loads of people, no matter their age. It isn’t a crisis.
Notice how in the first few paragraphs, during the whole role-playing thing, the other person came up with how he or she was responding to her quarter life crisis rather than explaining what it really is. I did that on purpose. Why? Well when you think about it, there isn’t a proper way to truly explain a ‘quarter life crisis’ to others. That’s because it is bollocks. It’s totally contextual, thought of in your imagination, which results in all the small fears of your life turning into one massive irrational one.
So just get drunk off your housemate’s wine. They’ve totally forgotten it’s theirs anyway.