What comes to your mind when you think mid-life crisis? Forty-something-year-olds lavishly spending money and committing marital indiscretions? A dad who suddenly picks up young people’s lingo, or a mom who impulsively dyes her hair neon colour?
One’s identity and self-confidence become compromised because of the passage of time. So they cling onto anything they associate with youthfulness and are desperate to maintain it.
Humanity’s lifespan is rapidly extending. Now 40 is the new 30, and thirty-year-olds start postponing marriage and kids because they feel they still have time. If that’s true, why do we feel like we’re running out of time? Fears and doubts that arise in our twenties are what’s now getting more and more commonly known as a quarter-life crisis. The overwhelming feeling of hopelessness that comes and goes. Which is why my favourite time of the day is the morning. The first moments after waking up. The absolute bliss, not remembering who I am and I’m supposed to be doing. These few minutes of just being.
I’m a firm believer that education doesn’t stop after official graduation. With Internet and libraries, access to various courses and research from fields of arts and science is easy. Opportunities seem endless and the world is my oyster. Sadly, wherever I look, I can’t seem to find any answers to why I feel so burnt out. Why do I already feel like my life is over? At 24 I have barely started living, I’m not married and objectively speaking I have great career prospects. Why do I seek the morning feeling of bliss more desperately every night? Why, oh why, am I so down?
Growing up we are told we are special. That we can do anything and become anything. We are the generation with limitless possibilities and the world we live in has no boundaries. The future of the universe depends on us. We are supposed to be the answer to all the problems the world faces.
Here’s where the issue starts. Expectations. We like to think that we have freedom of choice in deciding what to do in life. But the inevitability of comparing our lives to others’, and to what we believe our parents and teachers want soon brings the despair. It seems like we can just never be enough.
Five minutes on social media and we unknowingly adsorb hundreds of useless pieces of information. Our brains just don’t get a break. We are surrounded by slogans and headlines that indicate we constantly need something to be happier, skinnier, more beautiful. Let’s face it – if we were content with what we already have, how would health care or beauty companies make any profit? If we felt safe, how would insurance companies survive? We could always sleep better, look better, be smarter. We can’t help it but believe that there’s always something we could buy or do to feel better. Our university background is not good enough, our career choices not ambitious enough. So used to instant gratification and speedy advancement, the moment something goes wrong we simply can’t deal with it. Frustrated and annoyed, we don’t know how to face inevitable obstacles. We dream big but can’t seem to comprehend that failures are a part of achieving success. Because we grow up believing we can have it all.
This is what we are never taught: how to deal with all this? How to choose what’s best, healthiest, most appropriate for us? We seek advice, yet we never follow it. We are ambitious, but we procrastinate. Modern day young adults are all about succeeding and pursuit of perfection. We are called team players, technologically apt and speedy. But we bend over backwards to find ways to self-destruct. Mental health awareness initiatives are on the rise because of how prevalent depression and anxiety have become. It seems like our generation brings more problems than we were expected to solve.
The notion of being young becomes easily de-constructible. Is being equal to feeling? Just because I’m young, am I supposed to feel young? Being in your 20s is associated with carefree studying, nonchalant search for purpose, not yet the stress and pressure that we would usually expect from people much older. Society now imposes upon us feeling we should be responsible and financially stable sooner and sooner. We’re expected a solid job straight after graduating. If you didn’t achieve that, it means you didn’t work hard enough. But doesn’t this negate the idea of having fun and making most out of being young?
Don’t let us forget about the proverbial light in the end of the tunnel: only change is permanent. Just like a chicken shortage in KFC, no crisis lasts forever.