Random thought: Ok, so let me get this straight: you either pay THOUSANDS of dollars or borrow THOUSANDS of dollars to get “preparation” (i.e. college) for a job you end up HATING. A job you HAVE TO KEEP to pay off the loans for your “preparation.” Hmmm…what a twisted, vicious, punishing cycle. God, please let me love my job, so all of my hard academic work and spent money will be worth it.
Random Thought: Isn’t funny how regardless of the fact that all your friends are going through the same thing you are, it doesn’t give you much comfort? Lol.
So, I googled “quarter-life crisis” just for kicks, and all this stuff came up: books, blogs and even a movie (I’ll be writing a review for the movie soon)! It DOES exist! It’s great to know that it’s not just a fragment of my imagination. It’s also great to know that those who have experienced this period (and survived it) are sharing their wisdom. Please click the “Associated Links” tab under this post for more information on the resources I found (I haven’t read any of the books yet, fyi), and of course, check out some resources for yourself. I wished this topic was more widely discussed. We know about the terrible two’s, the tween years, adolescent dilemmas, and the MID-life crisis, but there isn’t much out there for those of us in our 20’s. Maybe it’s because people assume that it’s a carefree time, but if you REALLY think about it, it indeed comes with its own stressors. Most people graduate from college at around age 21 or 22. That’s just the beginning of the 20’s, and at this beginning, you have to quickly adjust between college life and the workforce. Finding a job is difficult enough, much less finding a job you love that pays well. On top of career dilemmas, people in their 20’s are facing marriage/parenthood (some take on those roles, some are stressed because they aren’t in those roles just yet, and others are getting pressured towards it), spiritual issues, identity issues, changing relationships with parents/or siblings, and just not knowing “what’s the next move.” Moral to the story, it seems like every age group has their own stressors specific to them, and 20-somethings aren’t any different.
Dude, part of me having a “quarter-life crisis” is the fear of monotony. Right now, being a student, my life is fairly spontaneous and fairly eventful. It was even more eventful in undergraduate; endless fun. As I get closer to graduation, everything is getting realllll serious. Internships, interviews, butt-kissing, I’m expected to super-professional ALL THE TIME. Can’t be myself without being corrected. Some of my friends who have already graduated and are in the workforce say that the money is good, but they barely have time to spend it because they spend most of their time at work. They complain that when they finally get home from work, their busted and often hit the sack. If they try to go out after work, it seems like it’s no time before they have to head home. The weekends go by too fast, there aren’t enough hours in the day and vacation time is few and far between. Does it matter what shift you work? Nope. Not according to them. From their perspective, 40 hours a week ALWAYS translates into 8 hours asleep, 8 hours at work, and 6 hours to yourself ( the other 2hrs are spent getting ready for and driving to work). 6 hours goes by fast (and you get EVEN LESS than 6 hours to yourself if you have children).
I imagine that things can get pretty mundane when your schedule is that predictable and repetitive. One of my friends posted a Facebook status that said “School, work, church….over and over and over… which is why I’m bored out of my mind with life…”
Among the other complaints about the daily grind is the shortening social circle. Everyone you knew before you got in the workforce is either in another state or just as busy as you are. Everyone at work you either have nothing in common with or there’s a limit to how close you can get to them because of professional ethics. Speaking of “professional ethics,” remember when I mentioned having to be super-professional ALL THE TIME? Well, if you spend most of your time awake at work, then that means you spend most of your time being the “professional,” you and not yourself. How suffocating and frustrating. What kind of life is that?
Now, the remedy most people offer for avoiding monotony in work is “finding something you enjoy.” But how many people REALLY get to do that? My biggest fear is that no matter how hard I try, I’m going to end up with a job where I dread getting up in the morning and I’m bored to tears with life. Ever see “I Think I Love My Wife” with Chris Rock? I’m afraid of being his kind of bored LOL. Ever see the film “Office Space”? I’m afraid of feeling that kind of suffocated and unhappy without any relief. I’m going to go insane! For me, that’s what turning 25 equates to: a cubicle and/or office prison with a jerk for a boss (i.e. Lumberg from “Office Space”) and no time for myself. Yeah, I’ll have way more money than I have now and that would be great, but at what cost? I would like to believe that I’d be “different” and I won’t end up in that situation, but I don’t know. I don’t know what my chances are at breaking the mold and LOVING my job while I make money. I’m so scared that I’ll end up with a boring career/life, that I wrote a song about it. Most of my friends say it hits right on the nail and they share my same feelings. I feel like pulling a “Van Wilder” (yet another movie that reflects my career crisis) and keeping myself from graduating so I won’t have to become a “real adult.” Most people are excited about graduating and getting their hands dirty in counseling. Me, I’m like “Get me outta here!!” Can’t I just be 21 again and be 21 forever? I guess I see why there’s a chain of clothing stores called “Forever 21” and not “Forever 25.”
This is going to sound stupid, but I learned something and had a major epiphany from Disney’s “High School Musical.” In the sequel, one of the morals to the story is that there’s nothing wrong with planning your future, but always make sure to enjoy your youth and present to the fullest. After watching it in January 2008, a light bulb went off. While I was in undergrad, I was sooo focused on my future and career plans, that I forgot to focus any on my present. I spent way too much time with my head in the books, instead of out with my friends. Don’t get me wrong, I had fun in undergrad, but not as much as I should have. Instead of living like I was in my twenties, I was living like I was in my forties. I was too financially frugal, too serious and too uptight. I had to be convinced to spend money on a cell phone and see Justin Timberlake (who I’ve been drooling over since I was 17) in concert. I would pass up weekend vacations or a night on the town to study. It was just ridiculous. What was I thinking? I’m not saying having focus or studying was stupid; I just should have had more balance in my life. I should have listened to my friends when they said I wasn’t having enough fun.
Due to my new epiphany, I decided I was going to take my life back. I realized that I was still young, still 20-something, and the best hadn’t passed me yet. I was going to let loose (within reason) and take life by the balls. Summer of 2008 was on its way, and it was going to be mine. I paid all my bills ahead a few months, stashed some money away for the summer, and by April of 2008, I said “deuces!” to my sucky job as a call center agent. I let go of my financial penny pinching (again, within reason) and I splurged big on vacations and a brand new wardrobe (NO BLACK! Which was a total 1st for me). I didn’t have a care in the world.
“High School Musical” also managed to reawaken my “inner sunshine princess.” In high school, I was that girl that everyone found annoying because she was smiling and happy all the time. Some people even called me “smiley.” When people asked me how I was doing, I would always say “peachy.” You would think there wasn’t anything sucky about life. For me, there wasn’t a single problem that couldn’t be handled with a smile. I was beyond optimistic. If I did have a problem, I would just say to myself “I’ll survive. It will all be fine soon.” I was giggly, silly, and very innocent-minded. I was as cheesy as Velveeta, corny as Green Giant (based on that joke, you can tell I still am). Somewhere between high school and finishing undergrad, the “sunshine princess “died or faded out. I got serious, jaded…cynical. Maybe my life experiences became too much and I just cracked. I don’t know. But somehow, this cutesy Disney tale about singing and dancing teenagers glued the pieces back together. I think of it as rejuvenation; a blessing. I’m not totally back to my old self, but I’m trying to let the negative part go. I’ve been allowing myself to re-enjoy simple, cheesy, innocent things like the Disney Channel. I’ve been spending more time with my friends. I never say no to a concert these days, and I’ve been doing things I don’t normally do (WITHIN REASON), like experimenting with my wardrobe (I must say I pulled off the “punk” look well, and I wore heels everyday to class for a week-which I NEVER do) and dancing on bars (to “Single Ladies”- it was great!). I saw a couple of movies and went to a concert by myself out of spontaneity. And the 3rd installment of the series, “HSM3: Senior Year,” encouraged me to pursue some alternate career goals I avoided due to fears that I wouldn’t succeed.
While I was in undergrad, one of my friends said “Jasmine, you’re way ahead of yourself, and when it’s time to be grown, you’re going to try to re-do 18.”
Why is she always right? LOL. That’s exactly what’s happening. Sort of. My graduate program requires me to be professional, focused, serious and studious. I mean after all, I’m being trained to a therapist and mess with people’s heads, right? I’ll be graduating within a year and I’ll have a REAL JOB and be a REAL ADULT. All the new responsibilities and expectations aren’t totally congruent with my new found mindset as I’m trying to be laid-back and take more risks. It’s been crazy and awkward, but I’m trying to work it out. I’m not ready to let go of the spark.
Ok, I said on the pages’ opener that I will explain what my other career interest was. It’s music business (not singing, the actual business side of the industry). Random, right? Music was/is my first love. Why wasn’t I a recording industry major? Because it wasn’t practical. Trying to get on the business side of the recording industry is just as difficult as trying to become an artist. To me, having a career in music was an unrealistic goal and too big of a dream to even be possible. So I majored in psychology, my other interest. I thought I’d be good at it and it seemed like a more logical objective. My minor was journalism; my third interest. The funny thing about that is that I wanted to be a MUSIC journalist. Looking back, I suppose that was an indicator.
I used to get so upset when I would take career interest inventories and the results would always come back with something related to music business or the entertainment industry. I didn’t find the inventories useful unless they gave me what I felt to be a “realistic,” lucrative career option. During my first semester in grad school, I took a class called “career counseling”, where you learn methods in how to counsel others who are facing career distress. In the class, we took various inventories that are sometimes given to clients. My results again came back with things related to music business. Usually perturbed, this time I was sad. I thought it was so unfair that “couldn’t” do music? I thought “why is the fun stuff so out of reach?” I felt like loving music was a curse or a plague: “Why can’t I be one of those people that loves chemistry or medicine? Something “practical” that I can actually accomplish? Why did I have to fall in love with something unattainable?” It dawned on me then that I’ve spent a lifetime being bitter that I couldn’t apply music to my daily work-life. For example, whenever I had a poor test score in grade school, I’d grumble and think “If this test was on music, I’d pass.” My mother used to say if “you knew your school material like you knew those songs, you’d be a star student.” I convinced myself that I’d be just as content with psychology as I would be if I were in music. It’s not like I didn’t like psychology; but that ended up being the kicker. I didn’t love psych like I loved music. And it was going to start to show….
When I got bored in my grad classes, I would draw ideas I had for album covers and promotional posters. If I wasn’t drawing, I was writing poetry or songs. If I wasn’t writing, I’d be coming up with live arrangements of my favorite songs, music video concepts, and set designs for tours. I’d leave class talking to my classmates about music, not psych. Even if they didn’t care, I was talking to them about music. Recently, I was with my classmates in the student lounge, and while they were discussing all things dysfunction and disorder, I was listening to Jay-Z on my IPod. Most of my classmates have a subscription to “Psychology Today.” When they get their latest issue, they browse through theirs. When I get mine, I hack it back in the trash to get to my “Rolling Stone.” I’m trying to figure out how to cancel my subscription to “PT” now. In class, when everyone was getting all geeked and excited about what we were discussing that day, I was like “Does anybody know when that new Robin Thicke album is coming out?” One of classmates said “This (psych) isn’t your passion. You need to be working in music business.” Again, I thought “that’s never gonna happen. I better stick to this. It’ll work out. Ignore the music fairy whispering in your ear. She’s only going to get you into trouble.”
A few months later, after my brother called for some advice he said: “Now let me tell you what you’re going to do with your life: Who the heck told you to major in psychology? That’s so random. That’s not even you. All you do is talk about music. We were on a road trip for 3 hours and the whole conversation was a about music. What are you doing?” I just laughed it off. I thought “of course psych is me. I’m naturally analytical; I enjoy dissecting. I like helping people figure out what to do with their lives.” And that’s true. But looking back on it, I realize I like to help people “figure stuff out” when I FEEL like it. I like being able to pick and choose who I help, what I helped them with and when. Anyhow, soon after that conversation came the break down…..
I was sitting in class and we were going over a chapter about how to avoid “burnout.” A WHOLE CHAPTER. There was a whole chapter of suggestions on how to avoid losing it as a counselor. It made sense for the chapter to be included, considering the emotional energy involved in counseling, but for me it just amplified the seriousness of the job. I was thinking “can you tell me what’s fun about this job?” After months of hearing about the difficulties of the job and the practically incurable disorders that patients might have, it all got really depressing. The job started to seem unappealing, and I had no inherent desire to “stick it out.” I thought “if this was my passion, I would want to stick it out; the downside wouldn’t matter to me. This can’t be my day to day job. This can’t be my life. I can’t ignore music anymore. I can’t ignore my 1st love.” At that point, I decided to pursue artist development. I didn’t know where to start, but I was going to figure it out. I had to shake psych loose. My family and friends were surprisingly supportive. As a matter of fact, many asked why I didn’t make the decision earlier. Some said “aren’t you worried about not making it, or making less money?” and as I told one friend, “At this stage, I’m much more afraid of having a job I hate, than taking the risk with music and failing.” So as of now, my current game plan is to finish my master’s degree and work in the psychology field, all while pursuing a music internship. This way, I can test the waters in psych (because I may have a different perspective once I’m in the work place) AND pursue my other interests. We’ll see how everything turns out. Between the 2 options, SOMETHING has to pan out.
Who would have thought that I would fall out of love with psychology. I soooooooooo did not see this coming. I didn’t anticipate this, and I’m REALLY PISSED about it. I’m pissed because I did all that career planning; I had all of the focus, ambition and direction. I considered myself “lucky” because unlike my friends, I KNEW what I wanted to do with my life. I managed to find something I was interested in that I felt I had inherent gifts for; something that could also provide a decent income. I didn’t change my major 3 million times. I didn’t hate my classes. I didn’t take me 5 or more years to finish my bachelor’s degree and graduate- I got out in 4. I did all of that just so I wouldn’t be discombobulated (confused) and possibly entering a career that I wouldn’t be happy with; and it’s happening anyway. I’m beyond discombobulated and I’m on the verge of entering a career field I feel I may be unhappy with. WTH? Is there no detour around this awkward, annoying period? I guess not. All that planning….and I ended up in the very place I didn’t want to be in. If I don’t work in psychology, I’m not sure what I’m going to do as a career. I know what my interests are; I’m just not sure how to turn them into lucrative careers.
Being in this space is so difficult for me because I’m a control freak and don’t like uncertainty. I don’t like question marks. I have to know what’s next or have some indicator of what might be next. I plan everything; I’m only mildly spontaneous. I kind of feel like I’m in a dark cave with no flashlight and I have to find my way out. I’m not used to being confused or not having a plan.
I was always the mediator of the family, and I had a desire to help people (I have a “superman complex.” I’m always concerned with saving someone). I realized I had a knack for analyzing and dissecting, and my advice always seemed to be effective. I thought I’d be a good psychologist and really enjoy the work.
Why I NOW don’t want to be a psychologist:
I’m too cynical.
I’m at a point in life where I’m trying to be less cynical, jaded and stressed. I’m now repelled from anything depressing and/or emotionally intense. If I become a psychologist, all I’ll be dealing with is the emotionally intense. I’m afraid that if I work as a counselor, I’ll become EVEN MORE cynical. It seems that being in a “helping profession” will either make you extremely sensitive or extremely cynical, and I don’t want to be either one. Having a “superman complex” doesn’t help very much either. I imagine I might stress myself out to the point of burnout trying to save everyone, and criticize myself for the ones that I don’t. Why didn’t I think about this before, you ask? Well, some things you don’t recognize about yourself until life lets you know and you have an “ah-ha” moment. In other cases, you recognize the potential issues, but for whatever reason, you think that it will change with time or that it won’t be a problem. For me it was a little bit of both cases. I realized a long time ago that I was pretty cynical and that I had a complex; I just didn’t realize how severe the issues actually were and I thought they would dissipate in time enough for me to be a counselor. WRONG.
Oh, the experience that is my quarter life crisis. It all started around October 2008.
Help! I'm having a "Quarter-Life Crisis"!
What is a "Quarter-Life Crisis", you ask? Well, I'm around 25 and I'm at that stage in life where my "future" personal and career goals are beginning to come into the present...and it's freaking me out lol. Here, I'm sharing my thoughts and experiences as I go through the process of "becoming a real adult".