The quarter life is arguably one of the most pivotal times in our lives. We are young adults entering into the world of opportunity. We’ve survived high school and the endless last minute late nights in the university library, scraping together references and conclusions to the essays we could have started months before. We’ve dated people, been ‘ghosted’ (don’t do it guys and gals, it’s really mean!!) and fallen in and out of love. Surely now, fiiiiinally, we should be at that age where we comfortably lay down the solid foundations for the rest of our lives.
I don’t know about you but nope. Not me. Not even close.
Forget the mid-life crisis and the men buying motorbikes and women getting a butterfly tattoo just above their bum crack. A new life stopper is in town and I’ve checked the symptoms and already diagnosed myself – I’ve got a case of the Mid-Twenties Meltdown.
We’ve passed the quarter-life stage and realize we don’t have much to show for it. It’s that point in our mid to late twenties when everything starts to feel both real and surreal at the same time. It’s not the real that we knew when we were 22 and fresh out of university with a shiny degree, a fierce independence and the now unfathomable ability to stay out past midnight and feel absolutely fine the next morning (seriously, how did we used to do it?!).
It’s that sudden dread that we’ll be sitting on the singles table in our childhood friends’ weddings. It’s the sort that keeps us up at night having a massive flap about where life is headed and wondering WTF did that four-year degree lead us to and it’s the type of teal that leaves us confused AF about life and all its little quirks.
We are the generation of contradictions. At least that’s true for me.
We don’t want to work that 9-5 life, but apply for roles that offer us just that because it’s easy dollar. We want to travel the world but can’t save the money to do so. We want to settle down and have a family, but crave the freedom and calm life we’ve become used to. We want to map out the rest of our lives but can’t even stick to a decision on what to have for tea.
If you’re one of the lucky 20-somethings that have your life sussed then honestly, I congratulate you. But, if you’re one of the ones like me, who doesn’t have a clue where life is taking you, then I feel ya. I’ll be honest, I’m guilty of posting only the brightest, whitest and most hilariously captioned parts of my life to Facebook, Twitter and Insta. But I’m also guilty of secretly wishing the train to work would derail just so I have an excuse not to go in or burying my head into my 16 pillows on my bed just so I don’t have to socialise with those who ask ‘So what’s new?’, ‘Are you seeing anyone new?’, ‘You can’t live like this forever, can you?’
I’ve always been quite good with letting this go and just accepting what is, but this Mid-Twenties Meltdown syndrome hit me hard. Yeah and I mean welling up in public hard. But, instead of letting it take over our lives like I admit I have done, maybe, whatever we’re doing now is a good experience and a life lesson learned.
Let’s get really real. It’s not the end of the world that we choose to buy those pair of shoes instead of putting it towards a mortgage; the sky won’t fall in just because we are a single pringle who might not want to mingle; life will still go on and we’ll still have to navigate ourselves through life’s mazes, even if it feels like everyone is in fifth gear loving their life, while you’re stuck in reverse. It’s OK to feel a little bit overwhelmed. Guess what?! It’s even OK if it turns you a little bit nutty for a little while (I definitely have experience in that one!).
My suspicion is that we’ll look back on our twenties with the same rose-tinted glasses we look back at our teens and university days. We remember the nights out and the friends we made but conveniently forget the times we couldn’t afford a SPAR meal deal and the crying fits in bed when you couldn’t be arsed to finish your dissertation.
Now, whilst I am no Socrates or Plato (proven by the fact I had just to Google famous philosophers!), I’m preeeeety sure I can say I have at least three years’ solid experience in the mid-twenties meltdown phase and can confidently say, I’m becoming a master of the meltdowns. (Wonder if I can get a PHD in meltdowns on my CV?!).
Yes, we may not be married with kids or have our careers set in stone yet but our lives move at different speeds and axis and that’s totally okay. No two people are the same and if we compare our lives to others, it’s no wonder why we feel like we’re being left behind. If you’re like me and can usually be cool calm and collected about uncertainty, it’s a massive shock to the system when you realise that your life isn’t in control. But, even though it’s overwhelming and scary, these are the times that we’re allowed to get lost and find ourselves over and over and over again.
It’s simply a sign to you, FROM you, that change is coming.
And, like anything in life, it’s all about you handle it.
Anyway, if it doesn’t work out for me in the next few years then I can always check out the symptoms for a Mid-Thirties Meltdown.