5 Indicators of a Quarterlife Crisis

I told myself I was above the quarterlife crisis myth, but that’s of course because I’m all ego and I might still be 16 pretending that I’m above whatever is popular or cool.

However, as 2013 is now over, and I’m getting closer and closer to my *gasp* late twenties, I’ve realized I’ve done a lot of things this past year that are all part of my quarterlife crisis, if such a thing exists. What Newsweek, Time Magazine and anything written by a Baby Boomer with little to no introspection would tell you is that I apparently spent a lot of time being narcisstic and “looking for myself” with little to no results. In actuality, I did some of that, but I also did a lot of the other things that were only moderately self-destructive.

1. I finished a Master’s Degree in Sociology & Education.

Let’s start positively. That’s a pretty significant, major accomplishment. Sure, one of the motivating factors was to become somewhat competitive in a really dysfunctional economy, but what I’ve learned upon completion of my degree —in which I spent a lot of time thinking about school and work— it means nothing, and I just bought into an empty credentializing system that serves ultimately to further capitalism and private investors. Also, that I can now string that sentence together, and probably cite some actual data about why education is good, bad, or misguided.

2a. I watched a lot of TV.

I marathoned Breaking Bad. I embraced that wholly selfish, gluttonous, sloth-filled part of me that just wants to curl in front of the TV and take it all in. This is probably proving Time’s point about how Millenials have access to all this literature and great cultural artifacts but really just squander their time with TV. Well considering that in my quest to watch 365 movies, I had to really venture outside of my comfort zone and find 1930s horror classics, or explore French New Wave, or even look for short independent films, I would argue that I’m spending a significant amount of time critically engaging in media both current and past.

2b. I watched more than 365 movies this year.

Almost all of these movies were new to me (with exceptions being movies I saw with a group of people and/or pay to see it in theaters). I chronicled them all on Tumblr and will probably write a more reflective piece on the whole experience. Do I think this made my personal relationships and friendships suffer? Maybe. I slept less than usual and was cranky all the time, but it was WORTH IT.

3. I cut bangs.

I started small and went for the slightly commitment-phobic side-bangs. It’s the “I’m trying, but if this was a mistake, I can pretend they were just cut a little shorter than normal layers.” However, embracing the fact that I am 26 and I live in New York City, I just went ahead and chopped straight bangs, and embraced that whole apathetic over-styled hipster look that people my age are supposed to do. Yes, I have the same cut at when I was in the 4th grade, but now I don’t have my mother to smooth it down for me and make me look presentable, which is why I…

4. Knit excessively.

I needed a hat to cover the bangs. I needed affordable Christmas presents that were thoughtful and considerate of others. I’ve knitted two huge scarves and several hats, which is only impressive if you consider the fact that I learned to knit about two years ago.

5. I became a lot more open with my emotions.

Gone are those days where I just wrote it in my journal and locked it away (i.e., that whole week in the fourth grade). Instead, I started blogging with Persephone. I also became a public crier. I cried a lot. I cried at movies. I cried at commercials. I cried when my friend got a full-time job after years of unpaid internships. I cried at anything that could elicit any emotion at all.

Basically, 2013 was a year of being 26. I grew up and matured in some ways, and resisted that change in other ways. I tried my best to make the best of every situation. I got rejected from many (read: ten) PhD programs. I managed to get hired full-time at my grad school work-study job. Plans changed. Goals were delayed slightly. Priorities shifted as much as my bank account. Maybe I spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself, or feeling academically unfulfilled. I don’t think it had anything to do with my being a Millenial. I think it mostly had to do with me being 26 and sorting out my life. I think in 2014, I’ll try being 27.

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6 Comments 5 Indicators of a Quarterlife Crisis

  1. Avatar of LuannLuann

    uh we are in the same boat, friend! I’m 26 too, turning 27 this year and that quarter-life crisis thing that people say you experience at 25 has not completely found its way out for me. Despite your feelings of going through this crisis, I think you have a lot to be proud of! I can relate to #5 – I became much more open about my emotions this year. And I cried a lot. Commercials too! Like, recently with that Apple commercial with the teenage boy that was misunderstood. OH and that spearmint commercial (I think? some gum commercial) with the dad and daughter sharing those gum wrap paper cranes from when she was a little girl to when she went off to college. UGH. I CRIED EVERY TIME. So what I’m trying to say is, I think we’ll be ok. :)

  2. Avatar of StephensStephens

    This may not make you feel better, but I’m over 30 and grappling with many of the same things. Came back from a life-altering two years overseas and am stuck in the drudgery of job searching, school applications and existential crisis. One of these days I will be a grown up, I swear.

  3. Avatar of MarenaMarena

    Welcome to 27. I’ll be leaving that behind this year, and am already facing down the big 30. Didn’t have much of a quarter life crisis myself, but I do think it’s around the time people start feeling like IT’S TIME TO BE A GROWN UP (whatever that even means. I still don’t know.) Congrats on finishing your degree. I have my own critiques of my own program and the problems inherent in the professionalization of social justice and human rights work. So, I feel you. :)

    1. Avatar of StephensStephens

      Marena, I’ve been looking at grad programs and was considering applying for your program. Now, I’m debating if I should even go to grad school and if the cost is worth it.

    2. Avatar of KarishmaKarishma

      I’m actually looking forward to getting older and just slowly sorting things out. I don’t really have many complaints, I have had a pretty good life so far. And thanks! Grad School can feel both rewarding and super draining at the same time.

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