Whether it may or may not be a modern phenomenon, the so-called ‘Quarter-Life Crisis’ is something that has come to my attention in recent times, namely as more and more people diagnose themselves as suffering an acute form of this affliction.
But what exactly is a Quarter-Life Crisis?
In my considered opinion, it is an intangible disease with tangible symptoms. Sufferers typically tend to be reluctantly hurdling past their late 20s/early 30s, in spite of their best efforts.
Picture King Canute on the beach, forbidding the tides of time from advancing, possibly with a pint in hand and a cigarette hanging forlornly out the side of his mouth.
After finishing college and fooling some heartless corporation into employing you, the excitement of being in the oft-derided ‘Real World’, working in a new, big city, finally having some money (-ish) and making new friends contributes to sensory overload. Weeks, months, even years pass by.
However, when the novelty of all this wears off you may be left pondering where you are going in life.
You start to vaguely recall terms such as ‘career path’ and ‘pension scheme’.
There's soon a realisation that the next few decisions you make could, potentially, determine the REST OF YOUR LIFE.
You aren’t even sure what you are doing this weekend yet how can you possibly know what you want to do until you are a boring, old fart? Your birthday is no longer a joyous occasion but a reminder that you are another year older, maybe wider, but certainly not wiser.
Inevitably, you end up comparing yourself to your colleagues and friends. They always seem to have their shit together. They don’t laugh at farts, they know about that big news story that was at the start of the show as opposed to the fluff piece at the end (that you only saw on your Facebook feed in any case).
The more you think about this, the greater the gulf that seems to appear between your trajectory and that of these so-called ‘real people’. You are acutely aware of some sort of issue around home-ownership.
You can't be certain but you think that you may have even heard one expert recommending for people to live in houses made of smashed avocado on toast. Or something. (Best stay quiet on that one.)
This feeling can be compounded by social media. On Facebook, Snapchat etc., everyone will inevitably put their best, virtual foot forward, myself included. You only post pictures of great holidays you were on, festivals you were at, the 'great' life you lead.
You won’t find many people posting a picture of themselves with a face like a bag of wet socks en route to work Monday, absolutely dreading the thoughts of it.
Because that wouldn’t be as interesting and reveals a part of yourself you’d rather not share.
Social media aside, the Internet also contributes to this. Practically all the information about everything that ever existed is available at your fingertips. There are endless possibilities that can be Googled or stumbled upon. And when you're bored in work looking at all this, the grass is invariably greener on the other side. All this potential for ideas of what to do with your life is… Paralysing.
Should I travel? Should I concentrate on my career? Should I go back to college? Should I be looking at all of this at my desk? That nosy wagon Marian will, no doubt, be peeping at my screen. Why must she breathe so loudly? Or even at all?
But here’s the thing, we're nearly all in the same boat. And it’s not the Titanic.
More so, a Noah’s Ark of befuddled people simultaneously trying to escape the rising sea of ennui, bluffing their way through life in the hope of finding 'the way'. You aren’t sure of your current job/life path? At least you are thinking about it, pondering it, questioning it.
Ours is a world full of endless possibilities, you can’t possibly decide on one that is the absolute best for you, but you can allow yourself to realise that, you know what, I’m happy. I could possibly be happier but this right now is pretty good too.
You may never reach a definitive answer, in fact, none of us might. But if you are wondering about what you want from life, you are at least potentially putting yourself on the ‘right’ path, the path of discovery. Perhaps, one day, contentment. There is no harm in wondering if greater satisfaction may lie within the potential, as long as we recognise the happiness that is currently available within the actual, right now in front of us.
As the old saying goes, 'Most folks are as happy as they make their minds up to be’.
So suck on that Marian.