The quarter-life crisis is a period in a 20-something’s life when she is most anxious about how life has been going on for her, of how she has unmet the goals she once upon a time pinned on her college vision board, and of how she’s lost in a sea of people who have found their calling.
The summer I turned 21, I wasn’t pretty much worried about how I was going to unlock the doors to my future. All along I thought it was going to be easy. That people had a template to success I could just follow—get a degree, earn, go to grad school, get promoted—you know, the usual conventional future people define as success.
As the months went by following my 21st birthday, I have realized that I have been stagnant for quite some time and the people around me have already gone through some special milestones in their life (i.e. get married, have gazillions of kids, get promoted, be their own boss, travel the world), like I was the only one moving in slow motion, watching their lives flash before my eyes like a super fast train (thanks to Facebook).
A quarter-life crisis isn’t contagious, but it’s a disease that may swell up in your brain and eat up your very soul. Listed below are some symptoms of the lethal illness called a quarter-life crisis.
1. Society pressures you with its idea of how you ought to live your life, of an ideal orthodox future, and so…
2. You’re confused whether you want to go to Law school, get a master’s degree, be an entrepreneur or get married (the thing is, you’re single and you probably will be for the next five or so years).
3. You look at dating as an activity you have to do to kill time. But then you fell prey to it, and the pain of unreciprocated love just added up to your depression.
4. You cringe at the sight of couples in public rides.
5. You feel too old to be single, and too young to be married. And you are too fed up with the sight of babies and wedding photos in your newsfeed. You are sick of it, but you have already thought of a name for your future baby (but a future husband isn’t somewhere close yet).
6. You don’t want to make a career out of your 8 to 5 desk job, and the idea of quitting it has been troubling you. It’s just that you don’t have a backup plan yet and you don’t want to take a leap of faith in ditching it because of the fear of security.
7. And so you hold on for dear life as time passes by so swift and your friends transcend into a whole new life because they took a plunge, and because you held on too tight to your pole, you’re stuck, watching them reap their harvests.
8. You feel that your whole world is conked out, beyond repair because you have become so emo you could write a poem out of your melancholy.
9. You watch endless episodes of a TV series that was totally not on your list of TV genres to watch a year ago. Or maybe this is a mark of your transition to the Republic of Adulthood.
10. You Facebook stalk your exes and their exes and their exes’ exes’ exes… and the list goes on.
11. You hang out at coffee shops (or milk tea houses) and just stare at people and wonder if they are going through the same phase as you.
12. You think that this phase will actually go on forever, but it’s not. You’re just one more year close to the second quarter of your life, but you already think that this crisis and the sense of being lost is going to eat up the rest of your living days. Do your math and throw away that noose, for heaven’s sake.
13. You are starting to develop a drinking habit because you have eventually loved the taste of beer after night outs with your best friend who dragged you into partying because he was sick of listening to you rant just about anything!
14. Stargazing has become your thing lately. You are starting to become a basic girl and you find appreciation in astronomy and nature. (Okay, this might not apply to everybody, but it does for me).
15. You prefer walking while contemplating about your life, but you don’t know where you are actually headed (and by heading, I meant the walking, not the thinking).
16. You look forward to every weekend, but when the weekend finally comes, you just;
17. Lay in bed all day and just stare at the blankness of the ceiling, while again, reflecting.
18. You call yourself a failure just because you failed to get hold of the stuff pinned in your dream board and your 21st year didn’t turn out the way you envisioned it.
19. You googled how to be happy, but no article can get you past the depression stage you are in.
20. Katy Perry’s “Lost” is the most played song in your playlist.
21. But really, as soon as you arrive in your office in the morning and stare at the piles of paperwork you have to finish by the end of the day, Marina and the Diamonds’ “Are You Satisfied” starts ringing in your head. It’s your anthem. And I quote:
Everybody said, “Marina is a dreamer”
People like to tell you what you’re gonna be
It’s not my problem if you don’t see what I see
And I do not give a damn if you don’t believe
It’s my problem that I never am happy
It’s my problem on how fast I will succeed
Are you satisfied with an average life?
Do I need to lie to make my way in life?
High achiever don’t you see
Baby, nothing comes for free
They say I’m a control freak
Driven by a greed to succeed
Nobody can stop me
Cause it’s my problem if I wanna pack up and run away
It’s my business if I feel the need to smoke and drink and sway
It’s my problem if I feel the need to hide
And it’s my problem if I have no friends
And feel I want to die
The thing is your quarter-life crisis is just a phase—much as your obsession to rock bands and eyeliners and witchcraft was also just a phase when you were a teenager. And don’t worry, if you ever get stung by the crisis bee, it’ll wear out eventually. Success doesn’t have a deadline, so don’t rush.
The grass may be greener on the other side, but you shouldn’t make a habit of peering through some other people’s fences because eventually, you will find your calling and the achievement you have always looked forward to. And though it may not be somewhere over the horizon, just be patient, speed racer. Rome wasn’t built in a day.