The Quarterlife Crisis:
Where do we go from here?

I always say that once I graduated college I felt like the world was my oyster. Sure I moved back home with my dad, but that was just temporary in my book, I was just going to do that long enough to pay off my loans and buy a house. I had a job that had the possibility of turning into a career. The job I had afforded me the luxury to be able to purchase the things I needed and wanted, and hey I even got these cool business cards from a prestigious company with my name on it, which was just the epitome of cool to me. After about two years, once the novelty of the business cards and the paycheck wore off, I began to wonder what was next. I mean two years had past, I was still living at home, I was unhappy with my job, and my days just became a monotonous routine, and I didn’t feel like I was on the path to anything different. To be quite honest I started to get depressed, I started to feel like something must be wrong with me as to why I was feeling that way. I felt like a lot of my friends and family were proud of me and telling me what a great job I was doing, why was it that I did not feel that way? Why was it that I felt like I had no clue where I was going with my life? One day I was talking with a group of my friends from college about this and I was surprised to find that a few of them felt the same way; it was at this moment that one of my friends said he thought he was going through his Quarterlife Crisis. I remember thinking what the hell is a Quarterlife crisis?

I began to do a lot of research and I found that this whole Quarterlife Crisis deal was a real phenomena. I think the realest conversation occurred between a roommate, and me. The conversation pretty much summed up exactly how I had been feeling, the conversation went something like this:

M.Wanzer: Man, I don’t know how much longer I can do this.
Friend: What’s that?
M.Wanzer: This 9 to 5 , I mean this can’t be it, this can’t be life.
Friend: I know how you feel, its like, you do the same thing day in day out and nothing much seems to change except the time that is passing you by.
M.Wanzer: Exactly.
Friend: See, the problem is, there aint no blueprint to this grown up life
M.Wanzer: Umm…you’re going to have to elaborate on that one.
Friend: Well think about it, ever since you were able to read your life was damn near planned out for you, maybe not completely but at least it was planned out implicitly. You were raised to value education. You were taught you need to do well in elementary school to get into a good junior high school, then you were told you need to do well in junior high school so that you can get into a good high school, then you were told to do well in high school and do all this extra stuff, like student organizations, jobs, community service and a bunch of other stuff so that you can get in a good college. Once you got to college the goal was to do well so that you could build a decent resume and have something to talk about when you interview with these companies. Then you finally graduate college, you have the job, then what. There is no implicit roadmap, you have to figure it out. Only problem is you spent so much time following a road map, you never spent a whole lot of time actually planning out your future, now you have to do that and there is no implicit roadmap.
M.Wanzer: Well, my parents never told me I had to study anything specific, or major in particular.
Friend: I never said they did, but everything you have done up until this point is what could be considered the societal norm; it’s the implicit roadmap. That’s why you’re so damn confused now, and I know exactly how you feel, the roadmap is gone, we have to figure out the next step on our own.

That conversation hit me like a ton of bricks, because it clearly explained how I had been feeling and the problem I was going through. I started reading more and more about the Quarterlife crisis and it made a lot of sense to me. The Quarterlife crisis is basically a period of extreme confusion, anxiety and turmoil that accompanies the transition to adulthood. (www.quarterlifecrisis.com). When you really think about it, it makes sense, in today’s world, the average college grad graduates with a huge amount of debt, most college grads spend more than the traditional four years in college, and most college grads change jobs over five times before they are 32. Times are a lot different then when our parents were coming up. Furthermore, in today’s popular culture it is all to common to see so many young millionaires in their twenties that have come up with the next big idea, or some plain Jane that became a reality superstar over night; that often instills feelings of “if they can do it why can’t I?”, or “Something must be wrong with me as to why I can’t make it big out here”. The problem with popular culture is that more of an emphasis is put on the fact that a person made it rather than how they made it, which gives the illusion that success is easy to come by. I want to flat out say IT IS NOT, success is not easy to come by, nor is it easy to maintain. Success is something that has to be attained through dedication and hard work. Pop culture can tell you all about how rich people like Lebron James and Mark Zuckerburg are, but they rarely tell you how hard Lebron trained when he was younger, or how many nights Mark spent programming and developing his app before it was what Facebook is today. Don’t feel bad if you are in your twenties and you are not a gazillionaire, perhaps you need to work harder at what you are passionate about, or work harder to find your passion.

This period of life seems to have affected many people I know. I would not even go as far as to say that it is just something that just college grads go through I have a lot of friends that did not go to college that are still in this state. The Quarterlife Crisis has no educational, gender, race, or field preference. It’s just about not being sure what the next move is, and trying to figure it out all the while realizing that the main thing that is changing is the days on the calendar. I know that in today’s society happiness seems to be rooted in having a high monetary value. I tend to think that if you focus on that solely monetary value rather than truly trying to find your passion, your Quarterlife Crisis will do nothing but morph into a Mid-Life crisis and you will just continue to mask your unhappiness, with a fake smile while continuously taking part in a monotonous unfulfilling life.

Make no mistake, I do not have anything against making money, on the contrary I am quite for making money; I just believe that the true degree of success is not rooted in how much money you make, but it is rooted in your ability to be financially independent, and maintaining that independence through means that make you happy as well as offer you a challenge. I truly believe that once someone can attain those two things, they wont have to deal with the Quarterlife crisis, because they will have found their roadmap.