When your dad turns forty and decides to learn how to water-ski, buy a porsche, go skydiving, rock climbing, and visit Eurasia–all in one afternoon, he’s probably going through a midlife crisis. And you know what, good for him! He’s made it halfway through life, which is awesome and terrifying all at the same time. But when you witness someone else going through that, it’s pretty hilarious. A person experiencing tremendous growth has no sense of perception. They’re so confused and preoccupied with what they’re going through, that they don’t realize that porsches aren’t practical, and you can lose a leg in a water skiing accident. It’s like watching the drunkest guy at a wedding attempt the electric slide.
That’s a midlife crisis. So, then, what the heck is a quarter life crisis? I don’t have an answer to this question I’ve just posed. In fact, I don’t have answers to any questions right now. But if I had to define it, I’d say it’s a time in which everything you’d previously understood as being “true” is rendered “false.” As teenagers, we say to ourselves (with attitude): “I am this thing, and I’m always gonna be this fucking thing, duh?” I’m an athlete. I’ll always be a fucking athlete. I’m in a band. I’ll always be in a fucking band. Our definition of self is pretty thinly sketched out, partly because our brains are still developing and partly because teenagers are the fucking worst. The best proof of this, for me at least, is reading what people wrote in my high school yearbook. God only knows what drivel is attached to my name in the yearbooks of my peers.
More to the point, teenagers are functional within the self that they’ve created because they don’t really give anything much thought. But now we’ve developed a bit more. We understand more about what it means to have thoughts. Suddenly, everything changes. Now, everything is questioned. I notice it in my own life more than ever. There’s a high intensity debate going on in my head about everything, all the time. Do I like this? Do I want to be doing this? What does it mean if I’m doing this? What will people think it means if I’m doing this? This is what makes us feel lost. We’re unsure of almost everything. We’re throwing ourselves out into the world hoping that something will stick. I see it happening to all of my college-senior-aged-friends. Literally, everyone is choking back vomit on a sweaty wedding dance floor while the group backing vocals are shouting “It’s Electric! Boogie-woogie-woogie!”
We’re all a little obnoxious to be around right now. Everyone’s rambling about their GPAs, their prospective job interviews, future plans, commencement speakers, etc. We’re graduating college in a terrible economy, in a world that has taught us that we’re only as good as the jobs that employ us. It’s a difficult time for young people, and I mean really difficult.
However, there is a cure for feeling lost. The quarter life crisis has an antidote, people: Confront it.
Part of what is making you crazy, is refusing to acknowledge how innately screwed up you are right now. And let’s face it, you’re pretty screwed up, Kevin. If you’re “lost,” then be “lost.” This past Fall, I dropped ten pounds in three weeks, stopped eating, couldn’t get out of bed, etc. I resented myself because I didn’t have a job lined up for post-graduation, I wasn’t writing as often, and every attempt at making myself feel in control of things had failed. It wasn’t until I started accepting that this stuff was happening that I felt some relief. At a certain point, you have to be able to say: “Well this is the confused-awkward-introverted-20′s-me, I’m gonna roll with that for awhile.” The ability to say “So, what?” to difficulty is what provides me instant relief.
I’m not trying to sound like I have all the answers, here. Nobody has it together, even if they say that they do. Be weird. Be open minded. Question everything. Hang out with your midlife crisis dad, maybe? Do everything that you like. Try some things that other people like. If you identify with anything I’ve said here, it’s important to appreciate that you’re not alone, and this isn’t easy. But by surrounding yourself with other “lost” people, you may just find what you’re looking for.