What is a Quarter-Life Crisis?

There’s much talk of ‘The Quarter Life Crisis’ nowadays…which seems to have toppled talk of ‘The Mid-Life Crisis’; a phrase I remember hearing a lot more of as a child in the 90s, on occasions when grown ups were behaving strangely and actually having fun – and when people who should know better were seemingly refusing to “act their age”. For instance if a man traded in his people carrier for a sports car he was essentially bordering on a nervous break down, or if a woman divorced a horrid specimen after many unhappy years she was considered an unstable wreck, or if a quiet balding office worker married his pet goat and began a passionate love affair he was somehow “weird”…well no more. That sort of rhetoric has been well and truly left behind and in its place a “you only live once” motto plaque has been welded down for the foreseeable future.

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Loathe that phrase…but I can’t deny it’s cultural implications.

I am sure like most people you are happy to see such a positive switch; after all the true crisis is that we will all be in the ground soon enough (sorry for reminding you)…so why not dye your hair, get a tattoo, or go skydiving? What the hell does it really matter in the scheme of things? It’s just a way to get more out of life’s short flickering flame after all…not so much as a denouncement of adulthood, but rather as an opposition to a life of repetitive boredom…which unfortunately appears to be synonymous with that old bland chestnut which is “growing up”…

You see in my eyes therein lies the problem, and subsequently where the rise of ‘The Quarter Life Crisis’ is rooted…it’s a clash between the old and the new, the free and the hideously boring monotony, the ice cream for breakfast and the olives on your pizza. It’s a trade off between the old ideals of childhood and the established (but thankfully changing) fundamental stipulations of what it is to be an adult. Because of these clashes it is only natural to freak out and scream “I DON’T WANT THIS!”, when the realization sets in that being a grown up isn’t just bouncing around spending money, doing things, and eating carbohydrates for every meal…although for some that is pretty much it. Not naming names. But…erm…yeah.

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Not me mind you…not even once – oh no…

But this sort of inward nervousness isn’t a new concept, and most certainly isn’t true of only the present batch of disenchanted twenty-somethings. Far from it. One of my favourite authors Bret Easton Ellis has spoken extensively on the subject, stating it was the ammunition for a lot of his early work…here are a few of his alarmingly relatable words in an interview a few years back:

“A lot of it had to do with my frustration with having to become an adult and what it meant to be an adult male in American society. I didn’t want to be one, because all it was about was status. Consumerist success was really the embodiment of what it meant to be a cool guy—money, trophy girlfriends, nice clothes, and cool cars. It all seemed extremely shallow to me. Yet at the same time you have an urge to conform. You want to be part of the group. You don’t want to be shunned.”

And that’s what it is, this battle…this struggle…this inner-wrestling of two completely opposing worlds. Which side wins however – is largely up to you. As negative as this whole ‘Quarter-Life Crisis’ can be, I think it is helpful in molding yourself a platform on which you can continue to develop and prosper. It’s about reevaluating who you are, and where you want to go. It’s about saying which things you feel comfortable with dropping, and which things you will never let go of (such as watching Spongebob, or enjoying every side of the Marvel world) – this is your life, and you should never have to change when you don’t want to. Don’t be guilt-tripped into losing your identity just because you’re being falsely labelled as a “man-child”“kidult”, or whatever other dumb phrase the jealous masses will spew out…

After all a life of freedom, mobility, and sugary snacks is surely the dream…and you very well may be living it…so if so; keep on truckin’ – OH, LOOK OUT! IT’S BEHIND YOU!

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YOU’LL NEVER CATCH ME AAAALLLLIIIIVE!

Get out there and live your life, don’t worry about what other people say and what other people expect from you. However it’s certain a vague plan can’t hurt; it will provide clarity and purpose to the route you are taking towards your future, and will somewhat diminish those “what the hell am I doing with my life?!” feelings. Even if it’s as simple as: “attempt to make world’s largest cheese sandwich” at least you are remaining true to your character, and with it aiming to fulfill your deepest dreams and ambitions. That’s what it is all about after all.

Good luck, and kindly please stop freaking out: Cheers!

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27 thoughts on “What is a Quarter-Life Crisis?

  1. Great post, John. I’m now in my mid-40s and am finding the new fountain of youth doing stuff with my kids…painting, twirling in circles and doing cartwheels at the beach (or at least watching) and reading kids books.
    There comes a time, at least in my mind, where we need to be financially responsible and independent but that doesn’t mean we can’t keep having fun.

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  2. Never heard of it.
    Like “mid-life crisis” though, it’s just another word made up by boring people with nothing better to do with their lives than invent terms for things that already exist in life but nobody has previously thought they were worth naming.
    And they were right.

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  3. Good post 🙂 I can safely say the “quarter life crisis” is real and very present in my life! But honestly instead of people freaking out and labeling it a “crisis,” I think we should call it what it is, in less dramatic terms: a reevaluation of who you are and where you want to be. I will say though, that that panic of realizing you aren’t living up to some crazy standards you’ve or others have set for yourself, is quite panic inducing. But like you wrote- the most successful people take this period of their life and find a way to develop and prosper. Not drown in negativity and go insane comparing oneself to everyone else who may appear to have it together. That shiz is usually a front anyways. Cheers!

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  4. Exactly! I couldn’t agree ore with you on the fact that this ‘crisis’ is helpful as a platform from which to further develop and eventually prosper.
    Oh… And don’t we just all dislike Mr. Responsibility and his constant chase… Thankfully, he isn’t that fast:)

    Liked by 1 person

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