I have been doing some research on the millennial quarter life crisis that we all seem to be suffering from today, one way or another. Dr. Oliver Robinson, from the University of Greenwich in London, states “Quarterlife crises don’t happen literally a quarter of the way through your life…They occur a quarter of your way through adulthood, in the period between 25 and 35, although they cluster around 30.” Continuing on Robinson also states there are four phases we go through:
Phase 1, defined by feeling “locked in” to a job or relationship, or both. “It’s an illusory sense of being trapped,” said Robinson. “You can leave, but you feel you can’t.”
Phase 2 is typified by a growing sense that change is possible. “This mental and physical separation from previous commitments leads to all sorts of emotional upheavals. It allows exploration of new possibilities with a closer link to interests, preferences, and sense of self.
Phase 3 is a period of rebuilding a new life.
Phase 4 is the cementing of fresh commitments that reflect the young person’s new interests, aspirations, and values.
Question Dr. Robinson, I don’t mean to be crass but when do these phases 2-4 kick in because I can’t seem to get out of phase 1, and I’m pretty sure I’ve been in it since I was 24. Anyone else feel this way?
This blog post isn’t so much as a what to do to get you out of phase 1 but more of a, you aren’t alone, come suffer with me, my friend. Misery, as they say (who is they?) always loves company. I just don’t understand why this issue has become so enticing to us millennials, why did our parents, our grandparents deal with life better. The fear of Nazi’s, Communism? We have terrorists, ISIS, Al Qaeda, don’t you think that would be enough to make us feel more appreciative towards the lives we have, especially those of us in first world countries that allow us to write about these very issues without hanging us in the town square. You may laugh at the image, but the truth is there are so many people like us, our age, Millennials, who aren’t like us at all. Their problems are real problems, where to get food, how to hide from ISIS, how not to get killed. So I feel quite privileged that I can sit here on my laptop and complain about this very fact.
Sometimes I think we spend more time worrying about what to do than spending time doing anything. Think of it like this, when you date someone you don’t just believe their words, you need to see the action. The anxiety you feel, am I good enough, we all feel it, doing something can be scary, but an action is the only way to combat fear.
What are we millennials in first world countries really good at? Complaining and getting nothing done? Yeah, thanks, Mom and Dad we know. The generation who had to fight the Nazi’s is dying out. The generation of free love and drugs is burnt out. Somehow we are supposed to take all the problems of the world, let alone our problems and solve them while still having time to pay little things like rent, loans, and cars. If we are lucky, there will be enough for more than frozen meals or ramen. If you are nodding your head along as you read this, then know you aren’t alone. You feel like the entire weight of the universe is on your chest, suffocating you. Let me be the first to tell you, where you don’t have to roll your eyes; you can let it go. It is hopeless.
Wow, I know you are saying, I thought this was supposed to be uplifting, I thought this was going to make me feel better about naming the cockroach that lives in my bathroom that I don’t have the heart to kill because sometimes it’s the only being that will listen to me. Stay with me here. I promise it won’t hurt too much.
It is hopeless to think you can solve the world’s problems. No one expects you to. You expect you to. Trouble paying bills? Not sure you are happy in your job? If you aren’t married with kids let me give you a good piece of advice, then do what you want. I have been reading the book On The Road by Jack Kerouac, and it reminds me why our parent’s generation was able to bypass this quarter life crisis. They lived. They weren’t politically correct. They didn’t care about driving their car down the road at top speed, or eating trans fats, or indulging in carbs. They fought NAzi’s, Political correctness, in Vietnam, the media. I know it is gross to think about but when your parents wanted to have sex (before you came crying into their lives) they had sex. Our generation has accumulated so much debt for the dream of education and advancing ourselves we feel like we can’t move forward until the debt is gone. My x was like that; it stunted his ability to grow. I even feel it, afraid to spend money on big things but realizing that spending money on small useless things is just as bad. So don’t feel guilty that you feel stuck because we are. The loyalty our parents had from employers is not what we have today. We millennials are expected to be loyal but shouldn’t expect loyalty in return (probably why are relationships are terrible as well).
So what do you do when you are stuck in debt and unable to leave your job because unlike for our parents’, jobs are scarce and require an PHD, a MD, a JD, a FML (that is F$$$ my life) degree that even when you obtain the job requires 10 years experience?
“But sir I have a college degree I’m pretty sure I can figure out how to work the cash register.”
“Have you ever worked a cash register?”
“Well no, but….”
You go from being told you have no experience, but you are over qualified. Yup thank you federal government for looking at all those applications just to tell me that.
Just in writing this I feel all mixed up emotionally. My X and I use to say it isn’t the answer but the questions. We know the marketplace is miserable so how do we make it better for us? By not worrying that the marketplace is miserable. This is how I approach it. As long as I am willing to work, I’ll find something; perhaps that is too optimistic even for me, but what is the alternative, to sit in self-pity? One day the job might even be in the field I want. That is an old school thought, something our grandparents knew when they were returning from WWII with no education but the knowledge of how to kill a Nazi. My grandfather had a 5th graders education, he came back, learned to install elevators, and did that till he retired. Was he happy? I’m not sure. Fulfilled? Still not sure. But did he meet his needs, not just financially but emotionally, yeah I think so. Perhaps this crisis is new, or even old but as we grow older it will change, perhaps even to a newer crisis we haven’t heard of yet. For now, the only questions will be where we are when it does.