In two weeks I will turn 25. This is what our generation has begun to call the “quarter life crisis.”
I have always been footloose and fancy free, never too hung up on life-long plans or carving out a solid career path. If I had, I wouldn’t have studied English at university. A degree in reading books is certainly shaping up to make me a billionaire.
I have never envied my friends who went down the paths of medicine or law, knowing exactly where they would be for the rest of their lives. The ability to plan the purchase of a car, the timeline of a mortgage and how many children you can have before you hit 35 has always been repulsive to me.
Why would I want that? Where’s the mystery? Where’s the adventure? Where’s the unpredictable whimsical life that I envisioned for myself?
My initial plan was to be a mermaid. As an avid Disney fan, Ariel seemed to me to have it all. Great hair, tiny waist, cool purple bra and singing fish friends.
However, once I turned four I had to face the harsh reality of my humanness. I then moved on to veterinary practice, which I stuck with until I was 17.
My childhood spent saving beanie babies was going to translate seamlessly into the real world, and I would save all the puppies and kittens in the whole wide world.
I was banned from watching David Attenborough documentaries because the savage deaths of baby elephants and gazelles would reduce me to hours of bawling and wailing, but still further added to my desire to become a super vet. I would cross the deserts and jungles of the world looking like Lara Croft and acting like the Mother Teresa of the animal kingdom.
Then I did one week work experience at a vet’s practice in Waterford and spent the whole week putting down stray cats, dogs and birds until my entire soul was broken. I fainted watching a cat get neutered and cried 100 percent of the time. It seems a love for something doesn’t exactly mean you’re all that cut out for it.
So, sitting in chemistry class, I turned to my friend Fiona (a pharmacist who is now going on to become a doctor) and announced my hatred for science. She asked what my favorite subject was, I said English, and that was that.
So, I basically blame Fiona for my consistent state of poverty and total lack of direction. I will demand free prescriptions from her for the rest of her life in order to compensate, as well as full access to the Mercedes she will inevitably buy with all her millions.
At 25, with so many options available to us, my friends and I say the phrase “I have no idea what I’m doing with my life” about 45,000 times a day.
It seems spoiled is the most irritating first world problem of all time, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is a very real issue. Even my parents offer their condolences, and neither of them even had the vaguest opportunity to go to college in the first place.
But for them, it was all pretty cut and dry. Finish school, get a job, get married, get a house, get your life together ASAP.
For us, it’s much more a case of getting to 30 and having a stellar resume interspersed with international travel, some incredible internships, a top notch degree, maybe even a master’s or a Ph.D and perhaps a few startups under your belt too. You have to be a leader, an entrepreneur, an innovator, an adventurer and excel at absolutely everything.
It seems that at this age, no one is safe from their own scrutiny. My boyfriend recently began his own entrepreneurial endeavor by starting a record label, and I’m still pretending to be a playwright in spite of the fact that I haven’t written a single word of a play in almost two years.
We constantly have to reassure each other that pursuing the arts and working in creative industries is going to be worthwhile, and will all work out okay, and sure, we might not make a lot of money but who cares!? We can live on an island in a hut and live on coconuts and fresh air.
I think we’re not alone in our increasing envy of those fools who chose to be doctors and lawyers and other money making professionals. Even if I am definitely too self-involved to be anything but a writer, part of me still very much wishes I was cut out for something that could guarantee a decent quality of life.
A bigger part of me hates the world for ruining that, and the biggest part of me hates the Internet for making literature and music free when the most expensive things are the most necessary things like health care and legal representation.
Surely the necessities should be cheaper than the luxuries? Surely the doctors and lawyers are sick of their money and feel bad for the paupers who fill their Kindles and their iPods?
I realize that turning 25 isn’t quite like turning 30 or 35 or 40, but it’s just far enough away from adolescence where thinking about adulthood and life in general is becoming a pretty serious priority.
I’m not sure how many more years of joking it we can do. So maybe that’s why we’re the ones who are starting to panic, and they’re the ones who are starting to buy cars and real estate.
When we look back in 10 years, I wonder if we’ll see it differently from the view of our Hollywood mansion while they’re slumming it in a housing estate with their two kids and a minivan, or will we realize that following a dream was a horrible mistake.
This year is decision time. And it’s already February. Tick tock.