Everyone has heard of a mid-life crisis – that time in life when you are in your 40’s or 50’s and you start to re-evaluate your life. But a lesser known crisis is the quarter-life crisis. My friend Pablo mentioned it on his weblog (it’s in Spanish) after a conversation we had over the dinner table not too long ago, and I thought I would chime in with my 2¢.
Wikipedia even has a page on quarter-life crisis, which credits the term to a song from 2001. That may be the first mention of it in popular culture, but I think everyone will agree that this isn’t a new phenomenon. Essentially, this crisis is an evaluation of life that takes place when someone is in their twenties. In our case, it came up because Pablo, whose birthday is coming up, realized that he will be turning 24, which in his mind holds a real coming-of-age significance. However, unlike some people of our age, we are still in school. Not an ordinary academic experience to be certain, but in school nonetheless. I’ve heard on more than one occasion the idea that doing further studies – a Masters in Europe for example – is really just a means to pause “real life.” How true.
But the show, as they say, must go on and eventually even I will be forced to reckon with the reality of being mid-twenties. As it turns out my program ends only a month or so before I turn 25 – the quarter century mark. But despite reaching this point with as many doors as possible open before me, I am charged with the task of choosing only one of them (or two if I’m sneaky about it). Of course this jumps back to the topic of my post about what I want to be when I grow up. However, I feel that I haven’t yet hit my quarter-life crisis. Ask me in a year and I might be singing a different tune, but for now I’m still able to close my eyes and make it all go away.
As a concept, the quarter-life crisis is interesting and quite different than its mid-life counterpart. Instead of being mostly reflective, this younger version seems to be more perspective, looking towards an unknown future. Of course, we all look towards an unknown future, but it tends to be at the crossroads when we wish we had some hint as to what each path provided. I think I will leave it at that for the moment, and if I have some more philosophical musings about the matter I will make sure that everything is all linked together in a nice little package.