Ever since diagnosing my own quarter-life crisis, two things have been occurring frequently. One, I constantly reference the list of emotional phenomena associated with the QLC as presented in the Wikipedia article on the topic and point out how many of them I identify with, therefore reinforcing my self-diagnosis. Two, I use this same list to diagnose my quarter-life cohorts and demonstrate how they, too, are entrenched in such a crisis. I should tell you that this Wikipedia article I keep referring to has not one citation, source, or reference listed. This is probably because, as it turns out, the whole idea of the QLC was pretty much made up by pop psychology in the early nineties when somebody decided to give a name to the fact that whiny twenty-somethings were unmotivated and maturing at a much slower rate than ever before. Bogus or not, it’s uncanny how many of these are spot-on with my life right now:
- confronting one’s own mortality
- insecurity concerning ability to love oneself, let alone another person
- insecurity regarding present accomplishments
- re-evaluation of close interpersonal relationships
- lack of friendships or romantic relationships, sexual frustration, and involuntary celibacy
- disappointment with one’s job
- nostalgia for university, college, high school, middle school or elementary school life
- tendency to hold stronger opinions
- boredom with social interactions
- loss of closeness to high school and college friends
- financially-rooted stress (overwhelming college loans, unexpectedly high cost of living)
- loneliness, depression and suicidal tendencies
- desire to have children
- a sense that others are doing better than oneself
- frustration with social skills
My friend Jake was in denial about his QLC, even when I showed him this list and pointed out some key factors. The other day, however, he came around. “Emily!” he said. “You were right. The crisis…it’s in full effect. I couldn’t place these unsettled, frustrated feelings, but now I know. I’m just another victim of the QLC. Did I mention that you were, and always are, right?”
Ok, so Jake didn’t exactly say that, but he did realize that he relates to this list, and we discussed the following item at length: Tendency to hold stronger opinions. For both Jake and I, this involves not only holding stronger opinions, but expressing them freely and without regret. Lately, I told Jake, I can’t seem to stop my mouth from being bold, brash, and one more “b” adjective that rhymes with “kitschy.” My patience is low, and when someone or something crosses my path that I don’t agree with, I’m at the ready, paws up, opinion ready to be flung. Jake has been having similar experiences, often being told that he’s imposing his opinions and beliefs on others too readily and forcefully. Then, someone points out our audacity, and we find it hard to apologize. Maybe I’m giving myself too much credit, but I think the pre-QLC Emily was much more capable and willing to own up to her big fat mouth than the current Emily. Yeah, I said it. I’m not taking it back.
The worst part may be that the victims of my rudeness are most often the people closest to me. This is usually true, right? That the ones we love the most, trust the most, have the most faith in not abandoning us, take the brunt of our crap. Extremely unfortunate, but logical from a survival standpoint; we’re not going to alienate anyone who we’re afraid of judging or ditching us. Sorry, family and friends (and 5th graders- you get it pretty bad, too)- we’re going to have to ride this wave of crisis together. Bear with me.
And hey, there are definitely worse fates than being a temporarily rude person (I’m not confronting my own mortality or having suicidal tendencies, to name a few). At least I realize it’s happening. Hopefully, it’s all just a part of figuring out what you really care about and where the balance lies in letting people know how you feel. I feel pretty strongly about these cookies I made last night, and they definitely kept my big mouth busy for awhile.