Like all millennials entering their mid-twenties I myself have begun to experience the quarter-life crisis. Slowly but surely I have begun to close in on the ever terrifying mid-twenties. Those few years of your life where you begin to think “Shit I’m officially an adult and I’ve achieved nothing.” It’s this realisation that sends you either into a shame spiral of binge eating and drinking, or is the kick up the ass you needed to try harder. However between these steps there are the emotional stages of dealing with growing older. It’s by going through these stages that help us actually grow up and realise that we don’t need to have it all together, we don’t need to have achieved our dreams yet. Just because Jennifer Lawrence is the same age as you doesn’t mean you have to be a millionaire actress with a rockin bod. I mean how many people actually have their life together by the time their 30, let alone 25. I haven’t even begun to truly have it together, I don’t even have one thing together. The only asset to my name is my car, and its over 10 years old, so that’s an indicator of my financial security.
Emotional stages of dealing with the quarter-life crisis.
Stage 1: Nostalgia.
Like all adults growing older we begin to look back, we look back at the good times of our youth. We look back and think “Shit I should’ve enjoyed it more at the time.” The mid-twenties are a prime time for reflecting. While you’re probably still friends with all your high school group, it’s just not the same as it was when you were 16. For some reason those youthful summers seem more appealing than ever as you enter your mid-twenties. Those days of frolicking by your friends pool, gossiping about the cute guy in class, banding together against those beautiful bitches, it all seems so innocent. The nostalgia level hits an all time high during summer. You yearn for that youthful body you took for granted. You yearn for that simple pleasure of your only worry being that school starts again in February (for Aussies). And so you begin to wistfully discuss these years with your friends as you sit around their tiny unit, or that cheap Thai restaurant, and for some reason those years seem so much further away than you’d like to admit. You remember how vibrant and optimistic you were and think “where did that girl go and who is this pessimistic cynical bitch in her place?” Those innocent years of drinking cheap wine, cheap vodka and even cheaper tequila become precious diamonds, you hold onto them so tight you begin to forget to actually live for now.
Stage 2: Existential crisis.
This crisis is the result of your friends either getting married, graduating university, buying houses, or just generally owning at life. You sit there and look at your friends thinking “Holy f**king shit, what am I even doing in life?” You sit there and look at your own life. It all seems wasted. What have I done with those years? They’re lost now. Whether you’re still in uni, still single, still living at home, still driving an old car, still have no savings to your name, everything becomes meaningless. The life you lead almost seems crap in comparison. Every decision you’ve ever made seems like a waste. Every single moment in your life seems like one huge waste. And it’s usually one tiny thing that sets you off, for me it was failing a uni assignment, that tiny little NN set off a chain reaction in my mind. I felt like my entire life was some sort of failure, and it’s ok to think that. Just don’t let that control you.
Stage 3: Alcohol.
Ok so this is probably not the smartest thing to do but it definitely helps. After your mild freak outs and nostalgia filled conversations, begins the drinking. This stage is usually a time in your life where you think “F**k it, I’m an adult I can drink if I want, I can go out and get pissed and fall over.” I mean you’re usually drinking to feel young again, to have a night out of youthful enthusiasm that usually ends up with you remembering you’re not 18 anymore. The unfortunate side effect of alcohol is, well, you’re older and the hangover is just a reminder that you can’t handle it as well as you once did.
I mean what one of us hasn’t gone out drinking in order to forget your pain, feel young, convince yourself you’re still a party girl, but more often than not you regret it. You begin to realise you’d rather just chill at someone’s house with a nice bottle of wine than go out to a club and pay $10 for a glass when the bottle you have at home was 10 on its own.
Stage 4: False maturity.
We all know those people who are mature beyond their years. They generally have older friends and date older people. These youngens freak me the f**k out. At some point after the alcoholic stage us mid-twenty somethings attempt to be mature. For a time we become arrogant douche bags who think we know all about the world because we’ve travelled, we’ve studied, and we’ve ‘experienced’ a mild form of heartache. However like all things in life, maturity comes with experience and age, and your mid-twenties is not the time for this. Your twenties are the time for making mistakes, being immature, learning life lessons before you actually need to grow up and move out. So for a time we become little assholes who think we know better simply because we’re officially in our twenties.
Stage 5: Acceptance.
Like all things in life we eventually accept the inevitable. At some point we realise that yes we are in our twenties and there’s no turning back. We realise that this time isn’t about having it together or playing it safe. It’s the time when we learn who we are and what type of person we will eventually grow into. Yes some may have it all together but generally us twenty somethings don’t. We’re not even close. Most of us are perpetually dazed and confused by the whole prospect of growing up, and we forget that it’s ok to be confused. Just because we’re twenty four, five or six doesn’t mean we need to have it all together. We just need to try our hardest to actually pay attention and learn from our immature mistakes.