This week I turned 25. A momentous occasion in any young human’s life, reaching the quarter century and inevitable quarter-life crisis. Unlike the mid-life crisis, we don’t have any money to splurge on sports cars and yachts, we’re not married enough to engage in illicit love affairs, and – hopefully – not balding enough to require hair plugs.
Rather, the quarter-life crisis involves hours of excess across the fields of consumption, emotion and sulking. It should, in fact, be re-named “The Pity Party.” Points to cover during this milestone include, but are not limited to, the following:
• I have accomplished nothing
• I must accomplish everything by the time I’m 30
• 21 year olds are so much hotter and cooler than me
• 30 year olds are so much hotter and cooler than me
• I don’t, and never will have, a boyfriend
• My boyfriend hates me
• I love food
• I hate food
• Give me that bottle of wine
• Take this bottle of wine away from me
• Everyone else my age is doing more exciting, more interesting and more adventurous things with their lives
• I am going to sit here sulking, and wait for my life to happen
• Why is nothing happening?
The main causes of this crisis, per se, are the beautiful and successful 25-year-olds who have embraced and exploited “Generation Me” in order to become pioneers of leading magical powers at glossy, glittering firms like Google and “The Internet Ltd.”
Facebook is also to blame for the daily desire to smash one’s face into one’s computer screen in hope of somehow absorbing other people’s incredible lives. Snaps of Imogen on her 14th LinkedIn skiing trip this year, and badly edited videos of Marcus gallivanting around Peru with the gang from last year’s Indonesia trip, quite frankly make me want to vomit.
Where are the status updates narrating the mundane lives of the average pleb? They’re the gritty reads I’m really looking for.
“Got out of bed at noon and thought about going outdoors for a second, but it was a bit rainy so I just watched 19 episodes of 'Criminal Minds' and now am too scared to leave the couch. Also pizza.”
The killer is the comparisons that we all inevitably make. The grass is always greener, and now that the pressure is on to have a pretty tidy lawn with some happy daffodils and daisies popping up, people are – to kill this particular metaphor – taking a lawnmower to their lives and aggressively hacking it to pieces.
People with jobs and apartments who wake up relatively happy are suddenly made to feel ashamed of this disgusting complacency. How could you possibly be satisfied with money and success and some good friends that you’ve kept in touch with since college?
Why aren’t you starting your own organic food company and raising money for dying children on the side? Haven’t you seen what Charlotte and Caroline are doing? They’re practically millionaires!
Most of my Irish friends who came to New York on the grad visa have now returned home to Ireland, and we have been supporting each other through this difficult transition from the chaos of 24 into the anticipated splendor of 25. The expectation is that the last two years out of college have been spent learning some substantial life lessons that we can now apply to our incoming adulthood and pave ourselves a nice little path of righteousness, glory and fame.
However, the reality is falling a tad short. For most people returning from New York, there is the realization that work is significantly harder to come by at home. Temp agencies have become the go-to solution for settling back into the much slower pace of life, and much smaller pool of opportunity.
The whole point of the graduate visa program is to ship us little rookies over to New York to pick up some fabulous skills, and bring them back to Ireland to cook up some “awesome” entrepreneurial endeavors. We’re supposed to know how a start-up works so we can get a few of those going between us, and also to be quite familiar with the general ins and outs of running a business, so that shouldn’t be too difficult for us either – right?
There’s no question about whether or not the experience was invaluable, but as most of us return home during the headlong crash into the quarter-life crisis, there is a question about timing, and whether it wouldn’t be more beneficial to do the year abroad a little younger, and for a little longer than a year. One year is frighteningly short, and the pressure to cram in as much worthwhile experience as possible can be pretty overwhelming.
However, from what I can see, it is imperative not to come home and fall into the trap – the merciless, gaping hole – that is The Pity Party.
A week before I hit the 25 mark I held a truly superb Pity Party and actually invited a few friends, my boyfriend and my mother, all of whom became physically ill from listening to my whinging and moaning (see aforementioned points to address).
I cried and whined and wailed “PITY ME” in classic party style, and maintained that it was all solely because I’m still waiting for my new visa status to be given the green light. The truth is, yes, being in visa limbo is difficult, and it is very strange to be planning a life that you’re not geographically living, while geographically living in a life that you can’t really plan.
But that’s temporary. Being 25 is not, and it only gets older from here.
True, The Pity Party has a circumstantial element, and can be suitably customized to your particular complaints, but the common denominator for all of us is fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of getting poor and ugly and fat, and mostly – fear of failure.
What if we don’t reach the goals we’ve only dared to dream and not speak aloud because they sound too ridiculous, and too ambitious? What if we don’t reach our full potential? What if we are wasting our time?
What is going to happen, what is the worst case scenario, and how the heck am I going to handle all of this without my mom holding my hand and yelling at the door when it hits me on the way out? (My mom would actually hit and scold furniture that I walked into like the giant baby klutz that I was / still am: “Bold door! Don’t hit Rachael!”) Yes, Mister Door, please be kind, stay open and let me have a career.
All this being said, I woke up on the morning of my 25th birthday READY. The Pity Party is over, and it is time to quote inspirational 1980s songs and start dancing in the streets.
We are young. We can still get away with eating McDonald’s. We know what a tweet is and we have a top three rating of our favorite Instagram filters – already an unfair advantage.
Best advice of the week came from boyfriend: “Shut up and relax.” Simple, yet very effective. Best comment came from mother: “The digits of your age are now the digits of my age in reverse (52) – wanna swap?”
Eh, no thanks. Let’s go 25. Come at me.