Last year, I left Durham University with a great degree and all the good intentions of a recent graduate. I would take up one of my many offers for post-graduate study, progress to PhD level and eventually take over the world with my all-encompassing knowledge of 19th century psychological concepts and their manifestations in Strauss’ operas.
Well, almost 18 months have passed and since then. I’ve forgotten how to reference an essay, I couldn’t even name an opera by Strauss, I spent 5 months cleaning toilets and snowboarding in France, and now swan around the £6 million home of a super-rich family under the guise of ‘housekeeper’ (more on this another time).
So what happened? The inexorable quarter-life crisis (QLC to those in the know).
Who am I?
What do I want from life?
Where I am right now?
We graduate college and university with a little piece of paper that tells us we are ready to answer these questions and take on the real world. But find me a twenty-something that can do this, whilst affirming their happiness and satisfaction with life, and I’ll shake your hand.
The QLC forces us to grapple with these questions – to no avail – and allows us to sink into a desperate pursuit of our (lets face it, only just past teenage) identities. Female readers, you may also be familiar with the associated fear of shrivelling ovaries and the lack of a life-partner. (That’s another blog all together though, isn’t it?)
Whether the inability to answer these questions leads us to a few alcohol-infused weeks of reckless abandonment, into a job that we don’t want but that pays the bills, or even drives us to the French Alps or onto a South-East Asian voyage of discovery, the worst part remains the same:
The QLC is a lonely place to be.
Most of us are lucky enough to have someone on our side – perhaps a friend to take to Thailand, a parent to constantly remind you of your wonderful achievements – which, of course, far surpass those of any other twenty-something – or even the dog to assure you ‘It’s OK, I still live with mum and dad too.’
Even so, no one can really understand the true burden of the QLC. How can they help you find the answers when you don’t really know the questions? How can they help you find out who you want to be when you don’t even know who you are?
But from what I’ve read, the QLC is unavoidable and fairly common. There’s even a website: http://www.quarterlifecrisis.com.
Anyway, the point is, you are not alone. I wont tell that all is not lost, because right now, I’m sure it is. So yes, fret away.
I started a blog. It sort-of helped.