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Opening Arguments

The quarter-life crisis

Dear Wendy: Help me solve my flippin' quarter-life crisis:

I am 25, married, and have no clue what I want to do with myself. I have my BA and no student loans. I am about to start a new job at a popular pancake chain (there’s really only one, ha!) and have been literally sick to my stomach at the prospect of starting this new job. I am leaving a job with horrible management but a lot of flexibility, and I am so scared that I am making a mistake and that taking this job is just agreeing that I’ll be in food service for the foreseeable future. The money is better at this new job and allows me to pay all of the bills and have some fun money left over.

I have my degree in psychology and have thought about getting my masters and maybe going into counseling, but I’m scared to pay for it and take out loans (my dad worked at my college so I did not have to pay, for which I am SO thankful, but I have no clue about how loans work and don’t want to take out loans if I’m not SURE I want to go back to school, or what I would do with my masters once I got it.) I am the primary earner, and my husband and I get our benefits through my job (not an option at his). We would not be able to support ourselves on just his current income. I tend to be a self-defeater, and the idea of taking the GRE scares me, and the idea of grad school just seems so overwhelming.

And blah, blah, blah to the point of real whining.

I don't think the "quarter-life crisis" is anything new -- most of us have them. I had mine when I was 23, just out of the Army, working a series of meaningless jobs, getting married and worried about what that would be like, thinking about going back to school to finish my degree and wondering what that would bring. I got over it when I stopped letting everything overwhelm me and just chose a path.

Wendy actually has a pretty good answer for this pouter, which includes this sage paragraph:

As for being 25 and not having everything figured out yet, to that I say: NO DUH. You’re 25! You’re not supposed to have everything figured out yet. You’re not even supposed to have most things figured out yet. That you’re even living somewhere other than a spare room in your parent’s home is a step further than a lot of people your age are. Give yourself a break. This is not the world your parents lived in when they were 25, so it’s unfair to compare where you are now to where they were then. We no longer live in a culture where people have one career their whole lives. Sure, some people live that way and bully for them, but, more often than not, it seems that people try various careers, especially as many jobs and industries shrink or even become obsolete as the needs of our world change. It’s not at all crazy to imagine you may have two or three or four careers over the span of your working life. In fact, that seems to be a hallmark of your generation, so you are not alone, you are not a failure, you are not crazy.

What her answer boils down to is the same one I found. Once you choose a path, you'll stop feeling overwhelmed. And it doesn't even have to be the right path. Once you start focusing, you'll know whether you're where you're supposed to be or not, and you can make any course corrections that are necessary.