Monday, April 28, 2008

The Quarter life crisis.

Courtesy Wikipedia:

Kazimir Malevich's impressionist Unemployed Girl (1904)
Kazimir Malevich's impressionist Unemployed Girl (1904)

Characteristics of quarter-life crisis may include:

  • feeling "not good enough" because one can't find a job that is at one's academic/intellectual level
  • frustration with relationships, the working world, and finding a suitable job or career
  • confusion of identity
  • insecurity regarding the near future
  • insecurity concerning long-term plans, life goals
  • insecurity regarding present accomplishments
  • re-evaluation of close interpersonal relationships
  • disappointment with one's job
  • nostalgia for university, college, high school or elementary school life
  • tendency to hold stronger opinions
  • boredom with social interactions
  • loss of closeness to high school and college friends
  • financially-rooted stress (overwhelming college loans, unanticipatedly high cost of living, etc.)
  • loneliness
  • desire to have children
  • a sense that everyone is, somehow, doing better than you

I have decided life in the US is plutonian. I just looked up plutonian, and that's not the meaning I was going for.... What I meant was... the blank slate has gone to an extreme. You start from scratch over and over again. You move away from home to go to college, you move away from college to go to work. Every time you establish yourself into an identity, form an idea of who you are, the next step in your life is there to destroy all your misconceptions, and test all of these beliefs.

When you are five you are taught to be pure and honest and kind and sincere, and generous and compassionate and humble, as if you can get through life with such noble self less characteristics. You are completely unprepared for the cynical practical competitive capitalistic world you are being thrown into, with nothing to protect you because you are going in with a deluded open heart.

In high school you can be top of your class, the star student, the star child, most popular, whatever, the person with the noble aspirations, the cool kid, etc etc. then you go to college and everyone at your college is top of their class, now what do you do? Not everyone can be top of the class anymore. You have to forget your identity, who you were and re-establish/re-earn that role in college or pick another role.

So now you think you are smart, you are capable, you can do anything, because you have studied so much about the world, you went to a prestigious college, you studied philosophy and science and did research and worked with the smartest people in their fields, you are going to change the world, you are going to be challenged and challenge the status quo...

But guess what, before you get too cocky - the job world, is going to bring you down a few notches again. So what if you studied Socrates and saw how petty politics caused war and strife, you will still have to deal with office politics.. yes it *does* feel like you are back in high school, but so what? You thought going to college and being an adult meant you would grow out of that and never have to deal with it again? No sirree!

Yes your professors thought you had revolutionary ideas, you were smart and special and bright and they were oh so proud of you. Your employer doesn't give a crap. You are there to further your bosses career. They are not there to mentor you, they are there for their own career and to bring home the bacon and break you out of the delusions that college instills in you. So you either better come back down to earth, and realize that even though your professors thought your ideas were worth listening to, it doesn't mean that anyone in the real world with any power at all to implement your oh so revolutionary ideas cares. And now you have to trudge along like the "common people" and climb up the ladder the same way every one else does....


And they wonder where the quarter life crisis comes from.

The quarter life crisis comes when you realise that nothing you were ever told about yourself and the world is true, that you don't know who you are or what you believe and the world is completely incompatible with what you thought it would be.

Next come the thirties,when you decide f*** this s***, I am going to start my own start up!


Honestly though, I think we come full circle. Parents aren't idiots for teaching us noble, compassionate ideals. The hope is that once we get through life and attain the power and stability we fight through our 20s and 30s and 40s to attain.. we will go back to those ideals and chuckle fondly at the young fledglings who are struggling through their crises and tell them, its all going to be ok.

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