The Quarter-Life Crisis: Struggling To Survive As A Twenty-Something Year-Old

Susan Knox

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‘Your school days are the best days of your life’. My mother is usually right about most things, but NEVER did I think that she’d be accurate about this one. Looking back on it now, the freedom that we had in our school and college days was endless. Not a responsibility or care in the world besides getting home before Desperate Housewives started or legging it to the off-license five minutes before closing time to buy a naggin and that one can of Blonderbrau, ‘just incase’. But once you leave your college days (and nights) behind you, life starts to become a little more scary and suddenly, the word ‘responsibility’ haunts your every thought. According to several experts, it has actually been proven that there is absolutely no way of escaping the major catastrophe  that is ‘growing up’, and all of us have to face the consequences of transitioning from a careless ‘young one’ to a fully grown ‘adult’.

Growing Up Photo Credit Photoimg (Tumblr)
Growing Up Photo Credit Photoimg (Tumblr)

This prospect can more often that not, be far too daunting for some individuals to deal with, which leads them to experience the rather horrendous ‘quarter-life crisis’. What is the quarter-life crisis you ask? Well, it’s not quite the mid-life crisis because you’re not exactly middle aged, but rather, it’s a period in every twenty-something year-old’s life that occurs once you leave college. You’re not quite qualified for anything, and you’re not exactly sure what you want to spend the next eighty years of your life doing. It’s when you question everything that you are, you never feel good enough, you worry endlessly about whether or not you’re going to be a success, you’re terrified of failing and even more terrified to follow your dreams. You go through stages of denial, panic, excessive over-eating and procrastination but nothing seems to ease the burden upon your shoulders.

If you have yet to experience this crisis, you’re immensely fortunate and I urge you to cherish your last few months or years before you ultimately descend into a ball of insecurities. Likewise, if you have soldiered through this difficult time and made it to the other side, I applaud you (virtually), because it’s people like you who give the rest of us hope. Lastly, if you find yourself in the midst of the crisis, this article is here to inform you that you’re not alone, you’re allowed to be anxious and it will be okay. You’ll figure it out sooner or later, and once the torturous few months of hating and begrudging every single successful person around you ends, you’ll emerge from the crisis as a much stronger and self-assured individual (although perhaps a little wearier).

So people, here’s a list of things that you’re allowed to be pissed about because you’re twenty-something.

Five Minutes From Now,You’ll Probably Get Tired For Absolutely NO Reason

Sleepy Dog Photo Credit Maciej Dacowicz
Sleepy Dog Photo Credit Maciej Dacowicz (flickr)

You may not have risen from the leaba until four in the afternoon, but you’re always tired. Your bones ache, your head hurts and you’re just not able. It’s not as if you’re occupying yourself with overly strenuous activities, but you feel you’ve aged forty years overnight. The word ‘nap’ is now a positive in life rather than a negative, and you long to be that two year-old again, for it to be acceptable to  adjourn for the night at seven o clock without judgement.

 

Your Tolerance To Alcohol Has Decreased Significantly

Nable Photo Credit Susan Knox
Nable Photo Credit Susan Knox

Gone are the days when you manage to make it out four nights in a row and actually live to see the next day. Once you emerge into your twenties, alcohol no longer seems like the bestie it once was- instead, it becomes your worst enemy. You live in SHEER fear of what you’ve said or done on your night out; who you’ve abused or who you’ve confessed your love to. You question your younger generations ability to make it through RAG week alive and there’s not even a tiny shred of envy in your soul that it’s not you who’s puking in the taxi on the way home, or spending 50 Euro in McDonalds, buying Chicken Mc Nuggets for everyone in sight. No, you’d much rather stay in, like the dry shite you’ve become and watch Netflix until you don’t know who you are anymore.

 

You’ve Begun To Lose Friends For The Sheer Reason Of No Reason AT ALL

Besties Photo Credit summer-tans-beach-hair (Tumblr)
Besties Photo Credit summer-tans-beach-hair (Tumblr)

There existed a period of time when you once had a different friend for each day of the week, but now, you can calculate the number of ‘besties’ you have on less than three fingers. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing however, because as you grow older and wiser, you really begin to realize who your true friends are. The one’s who will accept you for the freak that you are, the one’s who will be there for you at four in the morning when you’re too drunk to remember your own address or when you’re too poor to even afford a Freddo. All the others are useful too though, for the Facebook likes, the ‘drinking buddies’, the one’s you don’t avoid on your weekly trip to Tesco…they will always have a place in your heart too, but you’ve grown apart from them for a reason; maybe they don’t see the world the same way as you do anymore.

 

You’re Qualified, But Never Qualified Enough

We Regret To Inform You That Photo Credit Caro Wallis (Flickr)
We Regret To Inform You That Photo Credit Caro Wallis (Flickr)

 

You’ve spent three years in college studying your chosen profession, but the moment you leave, nobody is willing to employ you because you have no experience. But how are we supposed to get experience if you won’t give it to us? Do we have to be experienced in order to be able to get experience? Is there a certain course you can take that nobody is telling us about? The vicious circle lives on, and it genuinely is ‘all about who you know’. You’re not gonna bag that part in Fair City unless you’re actually closely related to Bella Doyle. This is the one true unfair, harsh reality of living as a twenty-something year-old in today’s society. We’re expected to know everything, all the while being treated as though we know absolutely nothing.

You Either Go Travelling Or Get A Job

The Path Less Travelled Photo Credit Cube Gallery (Flickr)
The Path Less Travelled Photo Credit Cube Gallery (Flickr)

Robert Frost once wrote: ‘Two roads diverged into a wood, and I- I took the one less traveled by, and that had made all the difference’.  Isn’t it well for him? At least he had the option, the courage to take the one less traveled by. Perhaps in his time the economy wasn’t crippled enough that it might not effect his life. In Irish society today, HOWEVER, Mr Frost, us youngin’s actually have to make the soul-destroying decision if we’re going to spend our younger years travelling the world, or if we’re going to hold down a steady job after college finishes. Either way, whatever you choose, you feel you’ve missed out. When your friends arrive back home from their year in Australia with stories of how they drank vodka with Kangaroo’s and made secret handshakes with Alf Stuart, you feel you’ve missed out on an adventure of a lifetime. Not to mention the endless pictures of how utterly fantastic other people’s travels are on your Facebook pages (vomit). But at the same time, those people who have had these amazing experiences come back to an Ireland where hope is dead and ambition seems to have wilted away like Bertie’s hair. There are no opportunities and there’s always a tiny pang of regret that exists in your heart. If you had stayed would you be a success now? Who knows. But that’s life. Whatever path you choose, it’s the one that’s meant for you. Don’t fret about it too much; no matter how many people tell you that you should have your life figured out by now.

 

People Constantly Tell You That You Need To Get A ‘Realistic’ Job

Legend Old Man Photo Credit Enjosmith (Flickr)
Legend Old Man Photo Credit Enjosmith (Flickr)

‘Sure what kind of a job will you get out of that?’: The national phrase in Ireland every time a young person wants to spend their lives working as something other than a nurse or a teacher. God-forbid you ACTUALLY have a talent that derives away from the stereotypical occupation that  brings you ‘good money’. Is that the whole point of life like? You go to school and college for the majority of your life to educate yourself in order to simply earn ‘good money’? It’s an awful sad way to look at life really. Talents and passions are there to be nurtured. If you choose to ignore them, you’re ignoring what you were put on this planet to do. If you feel you were born to be a lollipop lady, a lawyer or a lap-dancer, then you go and do that! Don’t mind what anybody tells you. Life is short enough, you might as well do what you want, and sicken everyone else while you’re at it. As Drake once wisely (that’s rare enough in fairness) stated ‘success is the greatest form of revenge’.

 

Thus, we have arrived at the end of the article, and I hope all of you who have experienced, survived and endured the quarter-life crisis feel a twinge of optimism as we say our goodbyes for this week. It won’t always be like this, you’ll figure it out sooner or later. The main thins is, as CRINGE as it sounds, is to be who you are and not to be afraid of that. People will always judge you for something: haters gon’ hate, but let them. Britney wouldn’t be who she is today without the mental breakdown. We’ll be grand lads.

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Susan Knox