New research by LinkedIn suggests that three out of four Millennials are experiencing 'quarter life crises' and Sophie White's just not in the mood
The quarter life crisis is having a bit of a moment but is it a media-driven narrative rather than any true representation of the mood among millennials?
For the purpose of this discussion, I am going to park for a minute just how incredibly privileged a quarter life crisis is, we know it's privileged to be moaning into our laptops about our struggles.
Let's first explore the basics. Are you 25-35? Do you feel inadequate? Do you stress constantly that you are underachieving, regardless of having many good things you have in your life? Do you spend a large portion of that life online? Then you've probably heard of the quarter life crisis and may have already self-diagnosed as experiencing one.
Culturally speaking the role of the twenty-somethings has shifted radically during their history, and it's a long history remember forty-somethings only became a thing in the last few centuries after all. Sorry b*tches, pre penicillin 40 year olds basically didn't exist.
Among early man for example the twenty-somethings were essentially the wise old crones of the neighbourhood, imparting wisdom to the kiddos. In the early 20th century, the twenty-somethings were getting mortgages and hammering out kids at a frankly alarming rate, a fact they rarely miss an opportunity to remind us of. Sidenote: I'm not sure if it should be such a point of pride (thanks for the overpopulation you guys). However, by the onset of the 2000s the twenty-somethings had become impossibly infantilised and cosseted by society. The Twenty-somethings have apparently been steadily Benjamin Buttoning it over the last 100 years.
This hasn't been all bad of course, it's not like I'm demanding a return to pre-industrial revolution when "childhood" was a foreign concept and children were basically drop-kicked from the womb down the nearest mine, however as it currently stands the transition period between childhood and adulthood is not gradual and it allows little time for psychological adjustment. One minute the entire nation is breathing down your neck demanding to know if you are ready for the Leaving Cert Irish oral and the next you are navigating the sometimes lonely anonymity of university or the sh*tfight of the jobs market.
Burnout seems to be the ailment du jour for Gen Z who are under more pressure than ever to achieve big and achieve young, with little by way of fair renumeration or any promise of stability. This generation is assiduously tracked by a media which is obsessed with mocking everything from their politics and idealism, to their penchant for avocados and peccadillo for self portraits.
The quarter life crisis is nothing new, it used to be remedied with a gruff "cop on" from some impatient older sibling or a stint of backpacking or moving to New York. However, currently it's getting a sexy millennial makeover. Recent findings by a LinkedIn study shed some interesting light on the phenomenon.
"Sixty-one percent say finding a job or career they’re passionate about is the number one cause (of the quarter life crisis). Another top reason is comparing themselves to their more successful friends. Nearly half (48%) say this has caused them anxiety, with women feeling this even more than men (51% vs. 41%)."
Pre-social media, the channels for comparison were fairly limited. You might hear on the grapevine that Saoirse's neighbour's friend's sister got a promotion but now we can dip in and out of a constant scrolling stream of soul-crushing, joy-sucking comparisons on Instagram.
A good piece of advice is that there is no time limit on success. That viral video that often does the rounds detailing all the stars who were college dropouts (Bill Gates) or fired from first jobs (Oprah) is a good one to cling to in this time of uncertainty.
Another good thing to bear in mind is that most likely your problems are not that interesting. I'm not saying they're not important to you (and maybe your mum), they're just not that interesting and they're not that interesting because largely they're the same problems we've all have to trudge through in our 20s.
I'm not trying to instigate a game of emotional relativity but thinking about how at least we have options to agonise over is good for putting the mid 20s life crisis into perspective.
Also, and here's the really bad news: This is arguably the easiest life crisis you're ever going have. Sorry, I know that's not what you want to hear but it's the truth. You will likely be the best looking during this particular life crisis. You will also have the least responsibilities during this particular life crisis, allowing you to wholly concentrate on the moaning at hand. The life crisis that hits in your late 30s has to be juggled with all sorts of other pressures, kids, debt, ailing parents, etc etc.
So my advice is to enjoy this life crisis, indulge in this moan. Take to the couch with some medicinal snacks and really milk it for all it's worth before you have to cop on and get on with things.