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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How to be Happy.

Everyone wants to be happy, and to live a happy life. It’s somewhat of a sweeping generalisation, I know…but one which pretty much holds true across the board.

I mean unless you’re a homicidal maniac who enjoys other people’s pain and suffering – or a gym enthusiast vegan who enjoys the masochistic pleasure of seemingly making yourself suffer. In those cases I can’t relate at all – but those folks would probably tell you (as you strap them into a straight-jacket) that they derive pleasure from those senseless acts, and consequently are happy, or at least are making a distinct effort to attain happiness…however bizarre it may appear to us regular humanoids.

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So basically, I’m still right…sort of.

And while you may be less inclined to trust in a no-good bum writer like myself, you’ll probably hold more hope in my old pal, Socrates – despite the fact he didn’t ever come up with any clear-cut suggestions as to how to actually be happy. But whatever…

John are you seriously saying you’re better than Socrates? Your ego is completely off the charts, good sir.”

Well, no – I’m just pointing out that I have a bit of a method to happiness that seems to work for me – and all he ever did was ponder, and deal in vague outlines about self-examination and virtues as with most philosophers of his time. 

Hmm, he’s widely considered to have played a fundamental part in the growth of Western thinking…are you sure you’re not just jealous of his luscious beard? Because you can’t grow a proper one?”

Unfair, and mean – next question.

John you’re writing this yourself. Just stop if you’re going to be a baby about it – you’re coming across as a lunatic as it is. Also, we’re out of milk – get some next time you’re out please.”

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Ahem, sorry about that. But I mean yeah, he was a smart bloke and all – so I’m not saying I wouldn’t have invited him to the pub every once in a while; he believed in the study of reason, the search of truth, and the admittance of our own ignorance, which all sounds dandy. But he had no ready answers, which I’m sure would get frustrating after the seventh or eighth pint. In fact I could imagine waiting for him to use the gents, and then darting out to another pub to find some more digestible truth there; probably revolving around sports, and a drunken take on world events. After all it’s usually the simple things, you know? And he sure did make it very hard work for people…

But the thing is happiness doesn’t have to be a cloudy pie in the sky sort of deal…in fact I think your pie should be right here, right now – with as many toppings and sauces as you please, and with no guilt over eating the last slice, ever. (Is this still just a metaphor? Way too into it!) 

Admittedly Socrates said something similar to this, when he stated we should actively pursue happiness through our actions and that it is in this exploration that we will expand our consciousness and become happier in the process…

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….but as usual the most important element (the ‘how?!’) was neglected…perhaps he kept it in his beard, and only showed his closest friends…the selfish creature. But as I don’t have a beard, I will share my little pearl of wisdom in the hope that it can boost your overall happiness levels. It won’t quite have you doing a moonwalk on a rainbow (unless you mix my guidance with LSD – which you are welcome to try if you are over the age of eleven) but it should provide less misery, and a greater feeling of contentedness. 

So this is it, and it isn’t much really: 

But each and every year I try and better the last one…I try to put more into my passions, and more effort into my writing. I try to say “yes” to more opportunities, to take more trips, and to experience a wider range of what this wonderful earth has to offer. I try to keep in touch with family and old friends with more regularity, and try to tell those I love that I love them more often. Basically I try to be a better version of myself from top to bottom with every passing year…the keyword being “try”. 

Sometimes it doesn’t work out – sometimes life serves you up a poop sandwich, with an extra side of poop fries (instead of that delicious pie in the sky), but when it does you have to keep going… and keep trying. It’s as simple as that. Personally I’ve had a very difficult year so far for numerous reasons…but it has taken till now to shake myself free and remember that I need to keep up that pursuit of happiness (cheers Socrates, mate) – the future, and my subsequent happiness is in my own hands. 

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So as you read this I am planning four different 2015 trips in four different countries…one which is a Christmas visit home (WOOOO!), I’m also editing down a new comedy video, and finally working on my dark humour novel again. I just need to send a nice email to my parents, and I’m golden!

But yeah, that’s it folks. Find the things that matter to you, the things that make you feel that warm fuzzy Teletubbies belly feeling, and then make steps to do them as often as possible. Happiness will follow. 

Whatever you do, don’t just accept misery…you deserve happiness, just the same as everyone. 

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Happiness – What Could Have Been…

I am fascinated with life, and the idea of each and every person having their own pathway on which they follow… 

It’s not that I believe in fate, or that I think we have any kind of predetermined outcome by some fella upstairs…instead I think of us as paving our own way – desperately struggling to lay the yellow bricks in front of us as we attempt to navigate through our lives. Sometimes we stumble across good eggs like Scarecrow, Tim Woodman, and Cowardly Lion – and then occasionally there are sadistic witches and flying killer monkeys who rip off all of your limbs…

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Swings, and roundabouts I suppose…

 I mean granted not everything can be cheese, back rubs, and new posts from Storytime with John, right? There are shitty moments too – it’s just all about finding those happy moments, and treasuring them, whilst also trying to derive some purpose from our small window of life (wherever, and however that may be!); after all we all want to be happy!

But you know what? I have some rather backward advice (which just so happens to work!) when it comes to being happier with your present situation…it’s not particularly to look at the things that you are lucky enough to possess; a loving family? A great set of friends? A job you actually enjoy? A really comfortable pair of socks? Whatever! No. 

Although naturally…good for you – especially the socks thing.

But I do find that spending some time considering what could have been (for the worst), really helps pump you up, and give a greater perspective on your life as a whole. It’s basically like you are looking backwards down the yellow brick road, and viewing the different paths that you see were no available…but you didn’t take. And as you are older, and hopefully a smidge wiser you now see they would have led to doom and gloom. I find this gives confidence in going forward…PUMP UP DAT CHEST, BRUH! 

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For me I look back at past relationships that would have anchored me to one spot…limited me…and kept me in a closed community, with a minimal amount of opportunity – so I look back at that, and then examine the present day…and I feel more positive about meekly edging forward. Or perhaps I peer pack down the yellow brick road again, and see friendship circles centered solely around drinking, drugs, and a lack of ambition…then again I look at the now…and feel a stronger person for being where I am today.

If I had made certain other choices, my reality would be totally different. 

I could of course ramble more about this for a lot longer, but it wouldn’t make much sense to you…after all life isn’t always a cohesive narrative, it is actually a very personal story which is only ever reported as a polished epilogue – one with which we can perhaps relate, but never truly experience – each of us walk in our own shoes, on our own path. 

But just try it, look back and see where your life could have taken you…not for the better, but for the worse…it should bring a wry smile to your face – and hopefully more faith in yourself, and your future…

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You’ve got this my friend!

(This post is dedicated to my very good friend over at Pixelated Lifestyle – keep going, just keep going…oh and watch out for the flying monkeys.)

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Please buy my collection of stories! Get it in paperback here – or on Kindle here! ALL proceeds go towards Macmillan Cancer Support!

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