Monday, December 01, 2008

Quarterlife

Posted by Anonymous.

I'm 25 now.

It took me a little while to type that sentence. There's this distaste that enters my mouth whenever I write it or say it. I feel like that it should be the start of a longer sentence: "I'm 25 now, and I dally in Europe with my girlfriends." "I'm 25 now, and I own a home." "I'm 25 now, I have a wonderful partner, and we're discussing marriage." "I'm 25 now, and I know what I'm supposed to be doing with the rest of myself."

The fact is that the sentence is what it is. I'm 25 now. I don't dally in Europe with my girlfriends. I don't own a home. I don't have a wonderful partner, and I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing with the rest of my life.

Some have said that I am going through my quarterlife crisis. Logically, I know that it applies to me and that this is partly true, but being the one living the quarterlife crisis is different. I've always been the one in my family who has known what they were going to do. I'm the academic one -- that's the label given me by my family. I'm not the pretty sister, or the edgy sister or the hippie sister. Those never belonged to me, and I never aspired to those labels. I have always known what I was going to do with the rest of my life -- I knew what path I was going to walk. My family and friends knew me as a decisive person where my schooling and career was concerned. I didn't need a partner or dates because "you're so, so smart."

I landed an entry level job in my competitive industry of choice right out of college. I got a promotion to my dream position not long afterwards. And I thought that this was all I needed -- this job that challenged me and took up so much of my time. And then I turned 25. I got depressed, almost mournful. Nothing satisfied me. I felt restless and purposeless for first time since my freshman year of college. I realized that I got depressed when my job went into it's "slow period" for the year. I didn't realize that I had invested myself so heavily in my position until this bleak onset that came on suddenly. I've scared myself... I figure it's because I didn't have it there to keep me occupied.

So I'm doing little things to change me. I'm looking to buy a one-bedroom condo -- something small and economical where I can entertain. I'm supportive of my best friend, who now has less time for me since she recently found a partner. I'm trying not to work so much. I'm trying to date. I've looked into grad schools. I don't want to be "invincible" again, but I'm frustrated feeling this way. I'm going to go my doctor to discuss what's going on with me. I don't think this is depression, but I don't know, quite frankly. I'm tired of 25.

I just hope that 26 gives me back my sense of purpose. But if it doesn't, what will I do?

17 comments:

Rebecca said...

Strange, I feel like this could be me. Sometimes I feel like I want something to be wrong with me - physically, mentally, whatever. Then at least I would have an excuse for feeling down. But there is nothing. And I know it will just take work and a greater commitment to my dreams to be happier. Hope you're able to do the same :)

Alex and Tara said...

You're 25, you have a great job (which will reenter its busy phase next season), you write very well, and you have years and years ahead of you to do great things. Like hostel-hopping in Europe which, by the way, can also be done alone - I guarantee you, you will have met people by the end of day one, and probably made plenty new friends by the end of week one.

As to starting to feel better, start new things that you've not considered before. Go to classes that are 'not you': maybe it's yoga, or dance, or indoor climbing, or cooking, learning a new language, or starting to walk the neighbour's dog after work. Volunteering at the local hospital, that would also put things in perspective. Try the one-month gift challenge: every day, give a little gift to someone (stranger, friend, family, anything, no matter how small).

"Get over it" - and getting over it is a matter of action, attitude, and perspective - it's an activity that you will have to engage in. Every day is a gift!

Marin said...

Funny, I feel like this but my sentence is "I'm 20 now." I hope it all works out for you; you sound intelligent and hopeful and driven, so I'm going to go out on a limb and say that you'll find your fire again.

Anonymous said...

This is me except I never had my dream job. I'm 26 now and still wish I new what "I want to be when I grow up."

Maybe life isn't about what others deem as accomplishments. Maybe it's about the smiles that you have everyday.

Here's wishing you lots of smiles.

Anonymous said...

I too had a quarterlife crisis. I was 25, still lived in apartment, a dead end job and not so much as a date to all the weddings of my frieds who were one by one getting married. Turning 25 was really tough for me, people laugh when I tell them I had a harder time turning 25 than 30. And this year when I turned 30, I celebrated with my husband, in our house with our 2 dogs. A lot has changed in 5 years, a lot of really great things. Your time will come!

Emmie {orange + barrel} said...

I am 24, and I feel you. I thought I would own a home by now too. I live in a tiny apartment in Los Angeles and I slave away in grad school....oh yeah not married either.

I keep making six month goals so I have something to cross off, because buying a house and getting married are so far off.

I think most working single gals around the 25 age are feeling you.

Anonymous said...

age old problem of getting older. You sound down to earth and practical so...not to sound blunt or uncaring, but it'll pass and you'll probably have more. Don't be too hard or yourself, things'll happen for you when they are supposed to.

ChefSara said...

i'm just on the other side of the quarterlife crisis, and yes, it sucks. i had a really hard time between 24 and 27. But it does pass. my mid to late twenties were marked by insecurity, not knowing what i wanted in life, and unhappy that i wasn't getting where i wanted in life. eventually, i realized that i found contentment in living my life, and not in thinking about how i wanted to live my life...if that makes sense. but i agree with the suggestion to take up something new. or get a cat or dog or rabbit or goldfish. and look for something besides your job that defines you.

Kate said...

I'm 27 and went through that as well. The key is to quit comparing yourself to your friends and others' expectations. So every last one of my friends is married or engaged and I'm not dating anyone. I haven't met anyone I would want to marry anyway, so that's not worth worrying about. Most of my friends have bought big houses on their double income while I moved back home so I could afford to pursue more education that would help me get into a career that might not feel like tiny papercuts to my soul every single day. (So the living at home sucks... but it's temporary.)

You have more going for you than others your age and older. But a key part of me dealing with my 25 issues was realizing that I was depressed, and getting on medication to help fix it. Depression is different things to different people, and I wouldn't count it out.

It's okay to make your own path, regardless of what others expect you to do. The right thing happens when it's supposed to happen. Good luck!

April said...

just keep trying new things. keep on chuggin' babe.

Anonymous said...

I'm mostly going to echo what others said - been there, done that - and that you sound like you're doing all of the "right" things. Since I'm a therapist and always thinking about job security *grin* I would probably also encourage you to think about meeting with a counselor for a few (or many) sessions, just to kick around some of these ideas out loud. Most (good) therapists can help you to determine or remember your sense of purpose. You might be surprised at what you find.

Best of luck to you. And as much as I hate to say it, because it sounds trite, hang in there. Things will look up.

nickelcitygirls said...

What I wouldn't do to be in your shoes!!
I am 38 with 3 kids, a husband, a home, a business and I go to school full time.
I have so much drive and focus now, but not a minute to jest kick back and "be".
Who said you need to know what you are supposed to do next?
Do you think that others do?
We are all just figuring out as we go along...
I would suggest that you journal out the things that YOU want to do. NOT think that you are SUPPOSED to do.
And then take the baby steps to get there...
You sound like a person who can figure out how to get things done.

Now that I think about it...I can only say this now because I am 38.

Don't worry. YOu'll figure it out.

Anonymous said...

I think it's only when you hit 25 that you realize that life is really long, that the "plan" people tell you you need to have, to do things by a certain "age" is will only take you so far. I changed my entire life up at 25 - ended a relationship that wasn't making me happy, made plans to quit my job, move cities and back to school. All that resulted in me actually making it to the point of 'dallying around europe" and so much more.

My point here is - 25 is awesome. You're a grownup, but you still have so much potential. Everything is still ahead of you. Now is the time you can seize everything you ever dreamed of. Do it!

Overflowing Brain said...

I identify with this so very much. I'm 25, and while I am married, it's all I have. I love my husband with every fiber of my being, but I don't have friends to go out with on weekends, I don't have a job I like, in fact, I'm trying to go back to school for something I'm not even sure I want to do anymore.

25 is hard because you're supposed to be at this certain stage in your life, but you're not. Because almost no one is. It's an unreal expectation that someone, somewhere put into our heads.

I too, am greatly looking forward to 26. It's just still 5 months away.

Shinyung said...

Hang in there. Sometimes, it's just a matter of perspective. We all put so much pressure on ourselves to have the perfect lives, but there is no such thing. When I was in high school, I just looked forward to the day I could be in college. Once in college, I thought about all that I should be doing after graduation. Now, I'm 37, with a law degree, married, and I spend way too much time thinking about what I do not have - children and a better career -- which is the wrong way to think, and wondering if I should have spent my past decade doing something different. Maybe we're designed that way so that we're always striving for better, but it also takes wisdom to appreciate what you do have at the time. I certainly need more of that. I envy your youth, potential, and the big unknown. Being 25 is a GREAT place to be. I loved my 20s. But don't get me wrong, 30s is great as well -- and in different ways, perhaps better. Being as reflective as you are, you WILL have a great future. You have to believe that and you'll make it happen.

SP said...

I know that this post has been up for a while, and I read it when it was first published, but it's been haunting me.

Not to be offensive to the other commenters, but I can't think of anything I'd rather NOT hear when I'm feeling down, sad and lost than "Cheer up! It will work out." If the poster could just cheer up, I'm sure she'd have done it already.

I personally believe that the mid 20's are the hardest and scariest time of a person's life. My friends and I used to say, "If only we knew that we'd end up happy at 40, we'd be able to just enjoy these years." It's a very unsettling time, and I really feel for you Anon.

And even though you say that you don't think this is depression, I have to tell you that I think that's exactly what it is. Depression isn't always crying and sadness but it can be a sense of hopelessness so profound that you can't see beyond today.

Please take care of yourself. Reach out to family and friends. Talk to your doctor. Don't judge yourself for not excelling 100% of the time. Be kind to yourself.

I'll be thinking of you.

CheekySweetie said...

25 was way tougher than 30 for me.

I felt like I had no excuse to not be something...I don't know, *more* maybe, because I wasn't a "kid" anymore. But I was a hot mess-from education to career to relationship...the only thing I felt good at was being a mother, but since I had a step-child that is (still!) extremely challenging, my step-parenting failures cancelled out my parenting successes.

That feeling lasted throughout most of my late twenties, but I snapped out of my fog as I approached 30. I realized that the only one that could change my situation was me, so I ended the relationship, started school, and got a job I (still!) love. Now I'm halfway through 31, and I am still dealing with major issues, but I have a more relaxed perspective. You just have to roll with the punches.

Things happen. Life doesn't go as we planned. It's really hard, especially for a planner, list-maker, smart person. I know, I was that girl and in many ways I am still that girl. I spend more time planning things than doing them sometimes. It makes the doing hard to measure up to the idea behind the planning. Often our expectations for ourselves are so much more than we would ever dream of expecting from other people, and that's really not fair to us.

So, you aren't feeling fulfilled in your current situation. That's the one comforting thing about the fact that the only thing constant is change. It will be a little different tomorrow, and a little more the next day. And you do have control over some of those changes. It's hard, and it takes a lot of strength and courage, but clearly you have that moxy or you would just be content with getting by.

My thoughts will be with you, too. Growing up isn't a process that stops at 18, or 25, or even 50. It's happening every day, with every experience. Cheers to your process!