If you’re having a quarter life crisis, it’s important to know you are not alone. Last year over three million people, age twenty-two through twenty-eight, claimed to be having a quarter life crisis. Take a second to let that statistic sink in. Now, take a second to realize that even though that statistic is completely fabricated, there are plenty of people who went to college to be lawyers and now, two years after graduation, they have realized they really want to be bee keepers.
Buying a bee suit and collecting honey does not mean you’re wasting your life. On the contrary, if anything is a waste of life it’s buying a Perry Ellis suit and pretending to be interested in corporate law. No one dreams of doing taxes when they are a kid, they dream of starting a company that invents moon shoes. But they left the moon shoe business because accounting looked like the safer major (inventing moon shoes is not actually a major at any accredited college), and now here they are at twenty-five, knee-deep in W2s, regretting that they didn’t stick with the one thing that made them happy.
It should be noted that I am not a psychologist, nor am I familiar with the career patterns of post-college graduates, but I have spent a whole week Googling “Am I Having a Quarter Life Crisis?” In today’s society, this pretty much makes me an expert. (For those that disagree, tell me you’ve never gone to WebMD for half an hour and convinced yourself you were a doctor?) I decided to begin the quarter life crisis search when I realized the graduate school I wanted to get into hadn’t accepted me. A rejection letter in my hand (later in my garbage, covered in man-tears) left me wondering what I was supposed to do next.
I could um, be a dentist? I could go back to waiting tables? Maybe I could apply for a nice job where I can use big words? Yeah, I’ll apply for a… oh, they’re only accepting resumes from kids who went to Princeton. That’s cool. I’ll just time travel ten years and tell my parents to buy a yacht, boat shoes, and develop the ability to convince their teenage son that a state university means you will end up working at a grocery store until you’re thirty (at thirty they take you into the back office and fire you because “someone from Princeton just applied for your position and they have experience in a nice job that uses big words”).
I have an issue with people doing anything but what they love. As someone equally guilty of this, I understand the reasons why we do other things: money, job security, health insurance, casual Fridays and no-necktie Tuesdays. But at the same time, I don’t understand why we do anything but what we absolutely, unequivocally care about. Why are we collectively working jobs that do nothing but suck out our will to dream big and live meaningfully? Does supply outpace demand for ideal jobs or are we missing out on them because we’ve structured ourselves to fit a mold of mediocrity? If you want to be a bee keeper, buy some bees (please make sure your neighbors aren’t allergic first). If you have always wanted to be a ballerina, but stopped dancing to do information technology, HTML yourself back into a dance studio and code the life you want. Remember: “Adults are always asking kids what they want to be when they grow up because they are looking for ideas.” It’s not the other way around.
It’s easy to test the water temperature by dipping in your foot; it’s hard to strip down and jump in, unconcerned whether your testicles will end up cold and shriveled. We all want warm testicles (ladies you get the metaphor). And I know you can’t foresee yourself paying the bills with moon shoes and tutus—at one point I couldn’t either. But it’s in exploring the inability to sustain ourselves with careers we enjoy that conspicuous consumption—our purchasing of name-brand crap—plays the biggest part. You became an IT chick to buy a BMW, but most ballerinas ride bikes (note: hipsters also ride bikes, but theirs are much more expensive than BMWs. Note: they likely also went to Princeton). Really, what is causing our quarter life crises is that we’re valuing consumerism over happiness. We can’t sustain ourselves as organic farmers because a Michael Kor’s watch is $300. You’re not going to be able to write that novel, because the money you saved is going to be blown on a weekend in Vegas with a bunch of beach-blondes who cry about their cankles when they’re drunk. Farmers have sun dials, and writers spend their time in parks with a journal covered in pictures of balloons and smiling babies. We took the safe jobs because we need enough money to buy Armani socks and iPhone 15s. I have sixty collared shirts. Why? I wear the same four every time I go out. I look fat in the other fifty-six, but now can’t devote my life to writing because I have a credit card maxed out on collared-shirt debt. We’re all doing this and it’s been all good for a long time, until recently, when twenty somethings started to fidget in their cubicles and wonder why in the hell they’re doing taxes and not jumping around in awesome moon shoes. We need to invest in our future, not the liabilities preventing us from getting there. We don’t need another DVR, we need another career. One that we choose for the most important reason: it makes us happy.
Create an eBay account, sell back the crap you thought you needed and buy back the life you know you want.
Reapplying to graduate school… at Princeton,