Quarter life crisis, the terrible twenties, whatever you may call it. For anyone who graduated college after 2004, you know what I’m talking about. As defined by Urban Dictionary the “Terrible Twenties” are:
Age 22 – 29. The period by which the safety net of school and parents are no more (or coming to an end) and the world is thrust upon you, forcing you to grow up. It’s the period of individual growth and learning of the world–away from the shelter of parents. It includes feelings of angst, frustration, depression and forced evaluation of self. It is followed by the intrinsic need to have one’s own family.
Friend #1 (Age 23): “I can’t get a break in life!”
Friend #2 (Age 33): “You have to crawl before you walk…you’re in the terrible twenties.”
Even as a victim of the “terrible twenties”, I still laugh out loud reading these testaments. I have had more articles, lists and tumblrs sent to me about this horrendous crisis that no one warns you about, than I can count. Not only do the articles ring true, but they bring comfort to those of us experiencing these moments of weakness – we are not in it alone!
For me, growing up I had always thought about “What will I look like when I’m in my twenties? What will I be doing? Where will I live?”. I thought the twenties were going to be a walk in the park, a piece of cake, the peak of my existence… which unfortunately is just not the case (sorry under 21 year olds…). Regardless of the fact that you likely have no one to take care of besides yourself, it’s far more complicated than that.
In this so-called phase, not only have I developed a new-found “habit” (better known as self-inflicted anxiety), where I think about every possible thing in my life and how everything’s going to work out one way or another, I have also started to actually THINK about my career. And by THINK I mean, I have realized that I have a life to live and (God willing) a future family to take care of and this isn’t all fun and games. Enter quarter life crisis: Recently, I have heard the little voice in my head saying, “I’m going to become a [career of choice at that moment] and will figure out the details later”. Take me back 5+ years ago (when I wasn’t in the TT’s), I never would have thought such a thing! But now? Now that I am panicking about where my life is headed and how I am going to find a job that I love while also being successful, having a bunch of kids, a happy marriage, (a summer house in Nantucket – fingers crossed), and a healthy life? Oh that sounds easy! I will throw-all-inhibitions-out-the-window and dive into a career I have zero experience in! And then it leads me back to the internal debate of my next career move – do I stick with what I know or take the risk of trying something different?
Furthermore, as I go through this tumultuous time, I have also taken comfort in reading about other women’s (mostly 30 somethings) career paths and how they got there. Most of the time, they started their careers by doing something totally irrelevant to what they’re doing now and passionate about. One site I find particularly interesting and inspiring is The Everygirl. In the features section they have a “Career” link which basically brings you to a page of women with really cool jobs and interviews them on how they got there. Most recently, I read an article on the two Design Directors for Nate Berkus (ya know, Oprah’s interior design guy). One of the questions the site always asks is: “What advice would you give your 23-year old self?” and in this interview one of the girls answered “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” This is something my mom has always told me and something that’s not always easy to swallow in the moment. But as simple as it is, I think it’s something we need to remember going through the TTs (think big picture peops!). I also think we need to realize that we are YOUNG and there’s no time like the present to try something new and take a risk, because this is our time to be selfish and have no regrets! After reading the articles and talking to my friends, I have a hunch I am not the only one my age going through these internal conflicts, and I encourage all of you twenty-somethings to take a deep breath with me and repeat “it’s all going to be ok”.
Now, in reality, I’m going to look back on these years and only remember the good times and likely make fun of myself for even writing this post. But for now, I am living it and I can’t wait to get out! The twenty somethings, particularly mid-twenties, are a bit confusing if you think about it. We are not old, but we are also not young either, and there is no excuse to be irresponsible anymore (ahem, losing cellphones on a monthly basis). We have jobs where we’re taken seriously and we have bills to pay, yet we don’t think of ourselves as real “adults” yet. People are either getting engaged, having babies, breaking up, getting married or traveling. There is no roadmap for where we’re going and the only thing you can do is figure out what YOU want and find happiness and confidence in yourself. For me, I’m caught up on the career choice dilemma first and foremost and so I signed up for an interior design course which I am beyond excited about! Take matters into your own hands. Everything will work out if you stay positive and work hard. As challenging as it may be, we can’t worry about it in the meantime. Whether it’s your career, your relationship, your apartment, whatever! Make a small change towards something that makes you happier and I think you’ll be glad you did!
Happy Thursday! Can’t believe it’s almost the weekend! Yippee!