A lot of people shit on the validity of a 1/4 life crisis. 25-35-year-olds today are under an immense amount of pressure that the generations that came before them never had, and it is those generations that tend to shit on our problems.
The older generations had life come at them in one of 2 ways. They were either: a) living a life that was physically much tougher than ours, and so see our comparatively easy existence as nothing to complain about. Or B) they had a life that was too easy, jumping from uni to first jobs, to life partners, to first homes with ease. So to them, it looks like we just don’t try hard enough, and our losses make no sense.
The younger generation, have the foundations that young 1/4, lifers are setting for them to be better, and they are being brought up with a mindset that is probably less pressurised by expectations and allows them to be themselves even if that means they aren’t being hyper-successful.
But millennials are stuck in between these two groups. On the one hand, they look up to their parents and how easy they had life and feel like they should be able to emulate that forward trajectory, or they see how much more carefree and motivated, despite all odds, the generation behind them is, and they want to be a part of that as well. In the meantime we are also feeling guilty, that, despite all of the apparent opportunities afforded to us, in comparison to some of our parents, we still feel utterly alone and forgotten about.
And the struggle causes many, the older generations especially, to look down on us as self-entitled, lazy and mentally weak, which only makes us feel worse about ourselves.
And a lot of these issues stem from money. We need money to afford the life we want, the look we want and level of comfort we need. But do these things, we need a job. But we need money to be able to afford the training that will make us employable, which means that we have to get a job so that we can get training that will allow us to get the job (sounds ludicrous right?). That then sends us down a path of depression and feeling like we’re not good enough at anything, which makes us spend money to make ourselves feel better, which leads to more depression because now we need a job to dig ourselves out of the mountain of depression debt that we’ve started to accumulate – and the cycle continues.
The reasons for this inability to make money are four-five for some of us.
1) University is easier to get into now: Whilst it is brilliant that education is so accessible now, it means that simply having an education does not make you special anymore, as it did for many of our parents.
2) The job market is flooded: As a result of point number 1, the few jobs that are available are being fought over by too many of us to be able to stand out, resulting in us using up time, energy and money to jump through hoops for employers which all too often comes to nothing
3) Debt is high: Yes we are all educated, but that education means we are now in debt for life and need to be employed ASAP, but because of points 2 and 3 we can’t get jobs.
4) Dreams are big: we all want the vision that the media has gotten better at selling us, and we’re fighting to achieve it with no real means of doing so.
5) If your BAME forget it: If you’re black, Asian, have a Muslim name, or are from a low socio-economic background all of the above points are doubled, and the odds have already been stacked against you from birth.
Instagram also has a lot to do with this tumble down the rabbit hole – it is not to blame- we are all adults and can choose which apps to devote our time and energy to, but you’d have to be blind to think that Social media wasn’t a contributing factor.
Instagram is a showcase for all our generations achievements, especially for creatives. It is used as a portfolio to display achievements and show, unwittingly, to other hopeful creators everything that they could be and everything they are not. And many of these creators, the movers and the shakers are from the ¼ life age group, so the rest of us feel like we should be able to be where they are- and why not? If we’ve all have the same number of years on this earth, if we are all from the same city, with similar upbringings, then what have they been doing in their 25/ 30 years that the rest of us have not? And if your not careful those thoughts will lead to you spiralling into thoughts that you’ve made all the wrong decisions in life, that its too late to fix things, that your ugly, that your stupid, and that you’re going to die alone in your childhood bedroom in your parents house, still working that dead end retail job that pays you pittance.
And as irrational or illogical as it may seem on the surface, that is the ¼ life crisis, and no amount of “go at your own pace” motivational posts are going to stop the mental toll that these thoughts have on the psyche. We have to start taking the 1/4 life crisis seriously. There is no quick fix for the state of the job market at the moment, but a lot of people are trying to have a lot of different experiences and skills under their belt, and that’s an excellent start. It will take time, but we will succeed – even though it doesn’t look like that now. And parents, friends, siblings, teachers- if you see your loved one slipping away into that void, take it seriously because laughing at that anxiety or taking the time to sit down with them and talk things out, could be the difference between seeing that loved one conquer these anxieties eventually, or seeing a promising life tragically cut short.
And for anyone experiencing this – believe me you are not alone. This blog is, in part, my way of trying to get out of the 1/4 life crisis, and the belief that I am never going to be a good writer, that my voice means nothing. I’m not even half way there yet, but for me, its a step in the right direction. And you can absolutely make that step to. You will get your break- it may not look like the success of others but it will be the success that is right for you.