Both my parents had mid-life crises. I witnessed them first-hand because they were just a few years ago while I was in college. They both handled them differently. My dad decided that he wanted to be “young and virile,” so he joined a gym, ate lots of salads, and I think he even had a fling or two.
My mom decided that her life had become meaningless. Her job was not fulfilling, she had an empty nest, and she wanted to “find” herself again. So she went back to school and became a paralegal.
They have made it through their crises and are now settled into comfortable lives, enjoying their post-children years. I, however, am not so settled. All of a sudden, I have hit a crisis – a quarter-life crisis that I didn’t see coming and that I didn’t even know existed on this life journey.
If you are 20-something and experiencing these symptoms, you share my crisis.
1. You’re Turning at Least 25 This Year
Somehow, it’s a horrible milestone — it’s at least halfway to 30, and we know how bad 30 looks. Tiny fine lines will appear. Our parents will be asking when we are going to settle down, get married, and buy a house. Yikes!
2. You’re Wrestling With the Meaning of Adulthood
Is 25 an adult, really? Can you still have just some of the immaturity of 20? Maybe call up your college buddies, take a road trip, and get some crazy tattoos in a sleazy Mexican parlor? Then you start to worry about adult things like safety and infections and you realize that your youth has departed.
3. You’re Fudging on Your Age
You tell that cute college guy or gal you meet in a bar that you are only 22. I mean really, what’s 3 years or so? You can tell yourself that you really “feel” 22, and that age is just an attitude anyway. Nice try.
4. You’re Not Relating to Your Favorite Songs Anymore
Song lyrics are speaking to you. “I’m not a girl, not yet a woman” comes to mind. Except that you were singing that in college, not now. Now the lyrics need to be “I’m a woman, but can I still act like a girl?”
5. Your Mirror is Rebelling When You Drink
A night of drinking means a full day of bad hair, dark circles, and an avoidance of all spicy smells. Fond memories of all-night binges are just those – fond memories.
6. You’re Seeing an Early Sun on Saturday Morning
You are suddenly getting up early on Saturday morning to clean, do laundry, and run important errands. These things have suddenly up-ticked on your priority list, along with daily planners and appointment reminders.
7. Your Mind Allows the Dreaded “M” Word to Creep In
Getting into a relationship comes with new fears. Will the other person begin to think long-term? Is this one it? To even hold a thought of marriage is something that proves you are now an adult.
8. You’re Skipping the Frozen Food Aisles
You find yourself shopping around the outer edges of the grocery store where all the fresh foods are housed, because health is becoming more important. And you are actually using pots and pans and a stove.
9. You’re Beginning to Think and Sound Like Your Parents
You are the one watching teenage antics and commenting on how immature they are or becoming annoyed with a child having a temper tantrum in a store aisle. God, you are beginning to sound like your parents.
10. You’re Beginning to Worry About What the Neighbors Think
You decide to clean up the yard even though you are only renting, and you actually go buy some plants and put them in the ground. What’s more, you become a responsible pet owner and actually take those little baggies with you when you go for a walk.
11. You’re Beginning to Use Adult Language And Standards
You’ve raised your standards about who you hang with and begin to look for networking opportunities – wow, even the word “networking” is scary.
12. You’re Beginning to Let Comfort Trump Style
You find yourself looking at more sensible shoes at the store, especially for work – how did this happen? And you watch younger kids just romping around in those 6-inch, pointy-toed things without even a worry about falling or getting a bunion.
13. You’re Beginning to See New Meaning in Dr. Seuss
You are beginning to see deeper meaning in those Dr. Seuss books that you occasionally read to your nieces and nephews, and somehow the fun of them is all gone.
14. Your Purchases are Beginning to Change
You forego buying new clothes because you have to get a new vacuum cleaner. And you buy an iron.
15. You’re Dreading Some of Those Family Holidays
You go to the huge family holiday meal and all of the older relatives are asking when you are going to settle down. In between descriptions of her paralegal courses, your mother makes hints about how she wants to be a grandmother. You suddenly don’t feel well and leave early. Home alone with the TV is better than this.
16. You’re Losing Your Spontaneity
You are seriously ready to turn down a long overseas jaunt to see the world in order to keep your career on track. Wouldn’t even have been a contest 4 years ago.
17. You’re Developing an Appreciation for Your Parents
You actually start to feel some guilt about how you treated your parents as a teenager. Now that’s a maturity level that has really crept up. These thoughts usually come up when you are cleaning up after your roommate who can’t seem to wash a dish or put a new toilet paper roll on.
18. You’re No Longer Allowed to be Helpless
You realize that you’ll never be able to fake being helpless again, unless it is asking your mother for a recipe or how to get a stain out of the rug.
19. You’re on Your Own with the IRS
You are doing your own taxes like a real grownup, and it’s not nice. And you actually read those instructions that come with the tax forms.
20. You’re Worrying More About Those Incisors
You are no longer avoiding the dentist but are making regular appointments for cleanings and checkups.
21. You’re Making Decisions Like Adults Do
You actually think about the pros and cons of something before doing it. And you are making decisions that would make your parents happy. Where did all of that wild abandon go?
22. You’re Worried When You are Overdrawn
You realize that you should have paid far more attention to that personal finance course you had. And you understand that budgets are really not for “wimps.”
23. You’re Actually Checking Your Credit Card Balance
You are no longer making those impulse buys that rack up your credit card debt. Wow, this would never have happened 4 years ago!
24. You’re Losing the Old Gang
Friends are starting to move away – close friends, good friends. And you are not prepared to really deal with that.
25. You’re Taking Work Seriously
You begin to think of your job as a career and start looking at the long-term future. And you are putting money into a 401K. Secretly, you are longing for days gone by when you had those part-time jobs that you could just quit because there were always other ones you could find.
26. You’re Resenting the Freedom Others Have
You look at friends who are traveling all the time and don’t feel happy for them anymore, as you sit at your desk waiting for that two-week annual vacation.
27. You’re Becoming the Boring One
You are asking your roommates to keep it down after 10 p.m. because you have an early meeting in the morning. And before you go to bed, you actually watch the news and weather reports.
28. You’re Thrilled to Get “Carded”
You are no longer “carded” at bars and liquor stores, and you are scrutinizing your face in mirrors, trying to figure out how you look over 21 now. You are absolutely thrilled on the rare occasion when it happens.
29. You’re Avoiding Birthday Celebrations
You want quiet birthdays now. In fact, you have even deleted your birthday from your Facebook timeline so friends’ well wishes won’t remind you.
30. You’re Succumbing to “Witching Hours”
You go out with friends on a weeknight and find yourself continually checking your watch so it doesn’t get too late. “When did this start to be a problem?” you ask yourself. That’s a bit depressing, isn’t it?
31. You’re Trying to Figure out Popular Texting Acronyms
You are unsure about the meanings of words and those little abbreviations that keep popping up in texts from people just a few years younger than you. And you’re talking about work stuff while they are talking about the latest concert or road trip.
32. You’re Trying to Recapture Your Youth and it’s not Pretty
You are feeling old and so you go on a rampage of one-night stands and other wild things you did in college. And then you realize you have to break things off with several of those “stands” who got a little too clingy. It’s less easy than it used to be. And you are starting to think that taking your clothes off isn’t nearly as fun as it used to be.
33. You’re Finally Hit With the “How Time Flies” Truth
You begin to talk about the fun times when you were in college, and then you realize that those times were a good 5 years ago. And this is further driven home by receiving alumni mailings with requests for donations from your college.
34. You’re Looking at a Scary Email
The worst thing of all? You get that 10-year high school reunion notification in your email. “How did this happen?” And you begin to research the prices of Botox and liposuction, hoping you can save enough for them before that reunion date.
If you are experiencing even half of these situations, you too are facing that quarter-life crisis. Maybe there needs to be a club or organization of sorts – you know, like an AARP for us 20-somethings in crisis. I, for one, could use a little help with this whole adjusting-to-real-adulthood thing.