Life after college is a nightmare for some. It's an empty place. No structure, no classes. No dorms, no friends, just the cold hand of reality slapping you in the face. Repeatedly.
When you walk across that graduation stage, and take off your cap for good it can feel like the world is crashing down on you. You don't have anything anchoring you to life.
There's an obvious progression, right?
You go through childhood.
You do okay in high school.
You get into college and then...
WHAT THE FUCK DO I DO?
For some a job comes easy and things tend to pan out, but honestly that's a rarity. Even for those who are making big moves and creating a mark feel out of place...because like...what does it all mean?
There are so many questions.
Even if you do get a job you have these thoughts: am I going to be stuck in an office for my whole life? Will I ever be happy...meet someone? IS THIS IT???
Are my possibilities becoming less and less infinite as time progresses? Am I doomed to be completely boring and unremarkable? Or...Is it just me?
Is life just a constant stream of work? Are all of our good days behind us? What can we do to feel like we're belonging and still independent of all the hateful nonsense we associate with adulthood?
These questions all amount to something known as a Quarter Life Crisis.
Now this term can seem like a contrived, first world issue, but it's a real thing that is hurting a lot of people I know. It's hurting me too. There is a certain darkness that creeps in when you feel like you don't have a purpose, and that can be absolutely devastating.
Change is never comfortable and of course graduating from college is a big one. We have lost our flock. Our college friends all are separated, some don't even care anymore.
This is where people tend to move backwards. They try to recover relationships and connect. It can be good, but awful at the same time, because it's just another sign that you're fucking up. There is distance. There's distance between you and the "good old days".
Those who wallow and return to their old stomping grounds obviously have an issue with moving forward. It's not a positive or negative thing.
The key to examining your crisis is to understand that there are no "good old days". Every moment leads you to the point you've reached today. And for good and bad, all of the choices you made were exactly what you wanted at the time.
You can't fault your younger self for being a fuck up or a waster. You can however, own that, and try to move forward and build off of what you've learned.
I've learned a lot of things. I've seen sorrow and harsh realities. I've done and said things that I wish I could take back, but honestly...where I am now, I don't see the point in placing blame and pressure on my old self...because that person is gone. All that stands is my present self, all the mistakes and ignorance, the hope for a somewhat brighter future, and the notion that everything can go to shit at any moment.
Quarter Life Crises arise because we feel others passing by in the fast lane while we're stuck on the side of the road.
What we don't acknowledge is all the time we spent in the fast lane too...and the consequences of stopping for a break don't factor in. In stead of feeling guilty for staying in too much, or keeping to ourselves, we should instead focus on what we've learned. And how we can use that information to end up in a better place.
I've learned to keep my friends close, and give people room to breathe.
I've learned to stop living so fast and going so hard that I can't enjoy anything.
I've learned that the opinions of those who don't know me, and don't wish to...don't matter.
I've learned to find some small value in my bumbling attempts at acting like a human.
I've learned that pressure and work do not amount to happiness.
I've learned that people I have never met value me more than some I've known forever.
I've learned that I am entitled to nothing.
And above all else...
I've learned that I don't know anything about my future, or when I'll be happy...but I'm trying.
And that is the most important thing...to know we don't know. We get all bent out of shape because we're on facebook all the time checking up on our peers.
We see marriages and babies.
We see big promotions and world travels.
We see money and beauty.
We see those who couldn't shine, finally taking shape.
And the crises come when we can't see these things in ourselves. There is no real solution to these problems, or why we compare ourselves to others, but in time we will recognize that we were right where we needed to be.
And our future selves will look back....either with anger or pride, but we don't have to worry about that. Because it'll all be alright.
As long as we stay the course, our good ships will sail on...at least...that's what I tell myself.
The only way to survive is to believe in blind faith; true ignorance. Relax. Breathe. Listen to those people in your life who value strength over social media "likes", and remember that greatness comes when you least expect it.
Nobody knows what's happening around them, especially in our twenties. Even in our thirties, and beyond, life remains a mystery and although that is an unsettling fact, it seems that is all we have to go on.
We're all mucking around in the trenches...it's just that some of us are shaking off the mud, and working up the courage to climb out. There is no shame. No loss and no victory. Just the experience.
So convince yourself: when that Quarter Life Crisis creeps up, know that people all around you are fighting their own miniature apocalypses and that's what makes us who we are.