Monday, July 27, 2009

If the Quarter-life Crisis really exists, I'm making a bouquet

I woke up this morning ready to stop procrastinating and open that "loan payment" folder I made months ago, while still in college. A sense of dread came over me and in the back of my head, like a faint whisper, I heard the words: quarter-life crisis. A couple of months ago at the WPA conference I met Aby Wilner, who coined the term "quarter-life crisis" to describe this period in my life in which I am presumably at a crossroads and experiencing much anxiety in regards to making the transition into adulthood and deciding what I want out of life. She wrote a book, which she pitched to us at the conference, and presented us with many facts, including that depression and anxiety disorders are at their highest in one's 20's. At the time I didn't know what to think. On the one hand, I was experiencing much anxiety and liked that somebody out there was paying attention to that. On the other hand, the scientific part of me thought it a bit dangerous to put labels on something that is a natural part of life. Everyone becomes an adult at some point; do we all experience a "crisis"? Can this quarter-life crisis be quantified, tested, examined? Can somebody please help me?
I found the Wikipedia entrance for the quarter life crisis rather amusing. The emotional aspects include:
* feeling "not good enough" because one can't find a job that is at one's academic/intellectual level
* frustration with relationships, the working world, and finding a suitable job or career
* confusion of identity
* insecurity regarding the near future
* insecurity concerning long-term plans, life goals
* insecurity regarding present accomplishments
* re-evaluation of close interpersonal relationships
* disappointment with one's job
* nostalgia for university, college, high school or elementary school life
* tendency to hold stronger opinions
* boredom with social interactions
* loss of closeness to high school and college friends
* financially-rooted stress (overwhelming college loans, unanticipatedly high cost of living, etc.)
* loneliness
* desire to have children
* a sense that everyone is, somehow, doing better than you
* frustration with societal ills
I, especially, like the second to last bullet.
These "criteria" if you will leave me constantly checking. Do I have stronger opinions? Do I want kids? Is this going to be added to the DSM? Oh god, is there a medication for this?
I guess at the end of the day, if this quarter life crisis is true, there's nothing I gain from worrying about it. Sure, I'm up to my elbows in loans I need to pay back, sure I'm sitting around the house, wondering how to intellectually challenge myself, sure I don't know what the hell I'm doing. But at the end of the day, I realize how freeing it is. I can do whatever I want, and today, with my anxiety, I decided to make a bouquet with the flowers in my backyard.

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