Quarter Life Crisis reflections

As I was inching closer to my 20s, I came across material that spoke about quarter life crisis and thought, “how strange?” How is it possible that a millennial that is at the prime of their youth would be going through any form of crisis. Aren’t the mid-20s the age at which someone enjoys the largest amount of freedom to be who they want to be and to explore their being in many more ways than one? 

Then I turned 25. This is where I felt that the full weight of being an adult pounced on me; not to say that there is a specific age at which we become adults. “We never stop becoming,” is what Michelle Obama would have said.  

You see, you start your 20s with a very giddy optimism. Highly likely that this is the age at which you are in University, navigating the whims of being young and largely solely responsible for yourself. People’s biggest expectation for you end at hoping you will graduate with good grades and get a good job. If you successfully navigate the wild campus parties and boring lectures and get a good job, then you are considered somewhat successful. Then you leave the institution of higher learning you were in and are thrust into the world. Obviously, this might be a bias point of view because some people do not get to go to college and their realities are vastly different but that is a topic for another day. 

Dressing a quaterlife crisis pretty

These are the three things I have found young adults struggle with:

Money and Careers

Before you have paid a bill that your survival depens on, I do not think that you have fully experienced adulting. You have bills to pay for, bills that are mandatory, bills that emanate from things you want to get and bills that peer pressure at times sets you up for. It is difficult to say that money matters are not one of the primary causes of angst among people in their 20s. 

There are a select few people who leave University and land well-paying jobs and never worry about money. Some have the privilege of existing family enterprises that they get employed in to with very decent pay and where they can earn a living from and finally there is a disciplined lot of people who get jobs that pay very little but out of their own stewardship, are able to build on what they have and over time amass a lot of wealth. There are also some who never go to University and work odd jobs to make ends meet. Sometimes, luck will draw them favourable cards and they eventually lead a comfortable life. Others go to University and struggle with unemployment and the challenges that come from lacking a source of income or working on a job that you feel is below your pay grade given your level of education.

Relationships

If a 20 something year old is not struggling with money, they are struggling in relationships. Largely with the opposite gender. There are the problems of not being in a relationship, being in a Nairobi relationship or being in a toxic relationship. These elements tend to really define what happens in the mind space of a lot of young people. It in this generation that we have seen increased cases of femicide as well as a lot of mental health issues emanating from relationships. The tensions that arise from societal expectations of settling in a conventional family way remain a large source of internal conflict. Unlike our parents who were settled by their mid 20s at 35 some of us are not sure we want to live under the same roof with another.

Life’s meaning and purpose

If you are lucky and you do not struggle with relationships or money, you struggle with meaning and purpose. The Japanese call it Ikigai – your reason for being. This is what I mean. Consider Anne (purely fictional name pick), a successful woman in corporate with a well-paying job and a relatively good standard of living based on the things she can afford. Like dinners in fancy restaurants and gym memberships at the best health clubs. You might find that Anne is also in a happy relationship, she is with a significant other that shares in her dreams and ambitions, he is able to meet her needs and they have a great way of communicating that allows her to solve for conflicts with ease.

However, during her day-to-day happenstances she feels a gnawing emptiness coupled with an overwhelming sadness sometimes. She really cannot place exactly what is causing this feeling of lacking. As Anne elaborates to her friends what she is going through, they cannot understand how this enviable woman is even feeling this way. As she spends time introspecting, she realizes that collecting a pay cheque at the end of every month from her employer and affording nice things is not really cutting it in making her consistently fulfilled.

There is an innate desire in human beings to feel that what we are doing has an impact that is beyond our own selfish interests. Herein, lies one of the most difficult questions to answer; what is my purpose? What gives my life meaning beyond my personal achievements and material possessions.  

Over the next weeks, I will delve on these three issues, Money, relationships, and human purpose. My thoughts are largely anecdotal and based on what I have observed among those I have been surrounded with over the course of my lifetime. I have also learnt that occasionally feeling an oncoming existential crisis is purely normal. Its okay to ride the wave and the motions that come with, but we must remember to move. Whether its crawling, walking, or running.  

Have a splendid week. 

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