The Quarter Life Crisis

If you know me in real life I have probably freaked out about this to you about a million times, it’s something I like to call a quarter life crisis, like a mid life crisis, except I’m not there yet. Hopefully. I’ve heard this referred to as a existential crisis as well, however, I made this term up before I really knew what that was. In exactly two months and one day I will be turning 20, approximately a quarter of my life will be completed, and what do I have to show for it? A high school diploma. I’ve spent over two thousand days in school, countless more if you add up the hours spent on homework  and studying, and I still have three more years left. In that three years I will decide what I’m going to do for the last three quarters of my life, and after I graduate I will get a job, and I will work for approximately the next fifty years, then I will retire, maybe with a husband, maybe not, maybe I’ll have kids and grandchildren, maybe not. When you think about life this way it’s really unappealing and it makes me ask the question why most of the time, and to be quite honest I think a lot of people my age are feeling this way.

So I go to college about 7 months of the year, and while I’m there I would say the majority of my friends have been on a path since day one, me not so much. I had a path and wasn’t sure, thought some things through, still wasn’t sure, I’m still thinking things through, and I’m still not sure at all, and what I fail to remember is that there are other people like me. There are people like me who know that they don’t want to sit in an office approximately 260 days a year, but they don’t want to teach either, there are people like me who just want to see what the world has to offer them and they aren’t sure how to do it. These people are having quarter life crises, we’re just trying to find our places when everyone else around us seems to know where they’re going. We’re the people who you ask them what their major is and we might just start to cry, because honestly, you can’t major in “seeing the world” there’s no way to make money that way. We’re the people who if you ask them, do you have any plans for after graduation, the stare is blank, although, I don’t know why I should have an answer for that when I’m only going to be a sophomore anyway.

The other 5 months of the year are spent working and seeing old friends and family, the old friends and family that ask us all of the above questions. The jobs and internships supposedly preparing us for what we want to do, when really we just have no clue. We look forward to vacations and weekends because they’re the escape from the madness. Sometimes. Other times they’re just another way into more madness and more stress. The worst is when someone tells you that “you’re really going places!” and you just want to say “Do you know where? Because if you do I’d love to know” but instead you just smile and say “thanks.”. Oh how put together the quarter life crisis can look when that’s what people expect.

My parent chuckle when I talk about this quarter life crisis, but I swear it’s real. I’ve counted the days spent wasted on learning for a standardized test, counted the hours spent studying for the next, and all I’ve gotten from this nearly 20 years of life is a high school diploma. A high school diploma could get me a general manager position at McDonald’s. Maybe. However, no one told me what I could get with a high school diploma, all they told me was what I couldn’t get without a college diploma, and as I’m getting further into my education, what’s next is what I can’t get without a master’s diploma, what’s next? What I can’t get without a PHD? I’ve spent so much time learning and getting an education, and it’s great, and I don’t take it for granted, however, what’s the most useful thing I’ve learned? How to find the length of a side of a triangle? That hippos sweat pink? What causes leaves to be green? What am I going to do with this information? I haven’t learned about mortgages, renting, loans, credit cards, stocks, anything that will help me in the very near future and the fact that I can’t tell you anything about simple life tasks, but I can tell you about different Presidents that had affairs (too many).

I think when it comes down to it, I’m experiencing this existential crisis, quarter life crisis if you will, all because what I’ve done for the majority of my life is learn pointless information that I used for one test, maybe two, but after that I’ve hardly thought about it again and none of this information has helped me to come to any sort of conclusion of what I want to do with my future. Hell, I picked writing because I did well on the writing portion of my ACT’s and it’s not something I hate doing. So maybe a year from now I’ll feel better about turning 21, but maybe I won’t, and I honestly don’t know if that’s okay or not. I’ve grown up in the world of planning for the future, and I don’t have a plan for the future, and I think that’s why so many of us feel so lost because it’s we don’t see it as accepted to not know.

There’s so much pressure to have the next ten years of your life planned to a tee, at least that’s how I feel. So yes, I am 19 years old experiencing a quarter life crisis and I don’t think I’m alone, let me know how you feel about this in the comments, please tell me I’m not the only one!

XOXO,

Mary.

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3 thoughts on “The Quarter Life Crisis

  1. gettingthroughanxiety July 19, 2014 / 6:51 am

    Mary,
    You are not alone; being in college can be scary. While you may feel like you are learning unimportant things (trust me, I know the feeling), you will eventually learn about things you enjoy. While it may sound cliche, it is worth the wait and even, at times, the stress. While I do believe some people can definitely be successful without college or a degree, I do think that the learning in college alone (and yes, hopefully a degree) helps you learn, gain more confidence, and makes you know who you are. You are so talented and worth striving to be successful. Remember though to take breaks and not put too much pressure on yourself. I have absolute faith in you and you should too!

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