When I was younger, 23 seemed like the sort of age where you would start to have things figured out. I would be thinking about mortgages, making progress in my career, brunching with my girlfriends and our dogs. In reality, 23 is living at home with my parents, in an entry level job with not a single brunch (or dog) in sight.
A quarter life crisis is when somewhere in your twenties (usually around 25) you have a bit of a flap over where your life is at, where it’s going, what’s the plan and wtf you are going to do about your student debt. Not only is this crisis a real proper thing, with articles from legitimate academic sources claiming 86% of us 20-somethings experience some sort of general life panic, it seems to be becoming a regular occurrence. I don’t know about you but I seem to be researching mortgages and job prospects and life insurance every couple of months.
I think the whole concept of the quarter life crisis is so prominent because our 20s are essentially a period of change. Most of us will go to uni, graduate feeling on top of the world and then have to move back in with the parents, thus losing the independence we just spent the last 3/4 years building. Most of us do struggle to get a job that pays enough to pay any kind of rent or save towards that elusive first home. Most of us are likely to chop and change and muddle our way through minimum wage jobs and decide it’s not what we want and cry and drink cheap wine. No wonder we end up slobbering messes in dressing gowns on the sofa at 3pm watching Netflix.
Social media only heightens the comparison and makes it easier for us to feel like a failure. It’s so easy to feel like you are falling behind when you see a friend getting engaged, or renting their first apartment. Society expects us to move along at a certain pace. We set ourselves milestones that are most likely totally unrealistic. I won’t lie, I do envy the people who have what I would like. I am in awe of the people who at my age have a house and a dog and go to brunch at the weekends. But I am willing to bet that they don’t have it all figured out either.
For someone who likes to be organised and to have a plan, not knowing what the future holds is something that has and will always scare the crap out of me. But I think we all need to start putting a more positive spin on our lives. Okay, we may not be where we thought we would, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing (after all, I’m sure your parents have a fridge you can raid 24/7). It’s not the end of the world to be undecided on your career, because think about all the exciting options that gives you.
My guess is we will all look back on our twenties with rose-tinted glasses. We’ll remember falling out of kebab shops at 3am, the friends we made at university and that all important first pay cheque. And we’ll forget the overwhelming lack of money and the stress of job applications and the not-so-great aspects of living at home.
We can only hope that our thirties bring more stability, less chaos and more expensive wine.