A midlife crisis usually happens when an adult realizes that they have worked their entire life, their children have grown up, and they are now the middle of the road. Our constant human fear of death and things ending sends us into a panic, and we think that materialistic wants such as buying that sports car or quitting your job in your 50s may be the solution to the problem. Day in and day out, society burns into our brains that we need to graduate from high school, marry “the one”, have the average 2.5 kids while living in the white picket fence home, raise the kids, and then retire. So when many approach the end of society’s “To Do” list, they often have a panic attack, or feel their life has no meaning.
In our generation, we have dealt with a war, a recession, a terrorist attack, social media, and higher demands in the work force. Must like the flower children of the 70s, we have begun to challenge politics, corporate lifestyles, and society’s understandings of how we should live. We don’t want to be the 9-5 “circus mice”: following a routine until we become burnt and bitter. We grow up with the basic understandings that the Baby Boomers and our parents dealt with of what society expects us, yet we have modern worries and the eyes of “Big Brother” watching our moves through every social media platform available. Employers aren’t just looking at your clear background check or your resume. Instead, they are searching “google” to make sure your Spring Break of 2005’s photos are not going to affect the company image.
You add all of these together, and you get premature wrinkles, aging, and some in their 20s who are wise beyond their years. We are the generation that is scared to commit when it comes to big purchases like real estate or cars. We have seen what our parents and family members have gone through with 401Ks and the housing market, and have learned not to follow their mistakes. Yet, in our worry and caution, we forget to live. We are focused on getting a secure job immediately after college that we forget about taking that “leap year” to discover ourselves.
With our growing lifespans and worries we have another thing to worry about: The Quarter Life Crisis. Around our mid twenties, we realize we have been working for the high GPA, the killer job, and somewhere down the road we forgot to live for ourselves instead of society’s needs. Around our mid twenties, we start to think about what we could have done/should have done, and how we could potentially get there. I encourage this to happen, and by all means have your “crazy moment”.
When our parents had/are having their midlife crisis, they realize they are too “stuck” to do anything more. Closer to retiring then starting a career, they fear change and they fear what would happen with out the sufficient income. With a quarter life crisis, we’ve already got our first years of entry-level positions under our belt, and may already have gotten promoted. However, we are still young enough to be molded and changed into another career. Schools offer Executive Grad Programs, as they realize you might want to further along your education while keeping that stable income.
Do what makes you happy, but don’t forget to live. I never experienced the “college life” because I was working to further along my career and although still in my 20s, I regret it. Now in a career I don’t know if I want to be in for the long haul, I am ready to rip off the band-aid and start again. Society tells us a career change/quitting your job is bad, as we must keep moving along in life-like the circus mice we slowly become. If that makes you happy, do it. If that makes you feel suffocated, leave that life. We don’t want to look back in our 50s and have panic attacks, impulse buys, and become a cougar divorcee (what my anxiety has led me to believe).
Learn from your parents. Listen to yourself.
Have your Quarter Life Crisis, try the gallon challenge, quit a few jobs, and learn who you are. You’ll never remember the stories about the times you stayed in, or stayed at that job that made you miserable.