Artwork by Lex Trickett

Acknowledging the Quarter Life Crises – a Millennial shares her story

It was July 2018 when the realisation of it all sank in. We were sitting in a workshop and my friend simply said “quarter life crises is real”. I had never thought of such a thing. She seemingly had it all (from my point of view anyway). She had a top position at her company, she had an honours degree, she had a flashy car and went out with friends quite often. Then all of a sudden, she resigned from her job out of nowhere and decided to go on her own personal business venture which after a year is still rocky.

My personal experience of quarter life crisis struck about 2 months ago. I can even remember exactly how I acted out but not exactly what provoked it. I had recently broken up with my partner of over 2 years on a whim–no particular reason except for wanting to be “free” I remember saying in our discussion. About a month after this I find myself sitting on my bed watching the new (terrible) Pet Cemetery when one of my girlfriend’s texts to ask the typical “what are you doing tonight?” So tired of my own company at this stage I agree to go out on the jol with her–something I haven’t done since my early 20s. I get to Brian Lara an hour before she does and I feel awkward af…. so I start chugging wine at my face. By the time she decides to roll in I’m already lit. The night continues and has many fun snippets…. mixing drinks, me speaking to Tinder matches (super uncomfortable) and even me playing bodyguard over my friend who has this intense guy from her past continually macking on her–I did this by continually photobombing him with a flash and sending him into near blindness. After a while Brian Lara gets boring so we go to big Brian Lara–Royale.

Here things really get fun. I see a bunch of people I know from the scene and in my drunken state decide to leave for a house party with them without even saying bye to my girlfriend. Here I am drunk out of my mind for the first time in three years at a house party of some random chick knowing practically no-one. And so I strike up conversation after conversation while smoking what felt like 500 cigarettes. Finally I speak to what would be my last boyfriend. But I literally can’t recall what was said. I know we talked a little and then hooked up. And this became my life for nearly 2 months–I partied like a deviant and had no concerns for real life things. Till recently this dude and I discovered that outside of partying we didn’t know each other at all and called it quits. I’m slowly trying to live a better healthier and more productive life but I’m not certain the quarter life crisis is over for me just yet. This might have been the tip of the ice berg as I discovered that this behaviour had many underlying feelings of inadequacy.

According to the Independent the quarter-life crisis strikes at 26 years and nine months old–almost exactly the age I am at now. It can be described as “a period of insecurity, doubt and disappointment surrounding your career, relationships and financial situation” (Dr Alex Fowke). Check-check-check-check-check-check…. The quarter life crisis seems to be on the rise as millennials are facing more difficult financial realities than their parents before them. Millennials are the first generation to be less well off than their predecessors. Certain that I could not be the only millennial going through this hellish ordeal surrounded by feelings of basically not being good enough I put a post on my Instagram stories asking others if they were going through the same thing. I received a lot of responses. Here are two that stood out.

“My greatest fear is that I won’t be able to provide for myself. I guess that’s the culmination of everything that’s happened and all of my worries and fears. I feel like I will never be able to get a job that will provide me with enough money to get a place and look after myself with what I earn. I feel like every dream I have is impossible because of money,” one anxious millennial shares with me. Another states, “…when I personally see people who seem to have their life sorted out at my age or even younger I really feel that existential crisis. Like ‘what am I doing wrong?’ because I don’t have anything figured out.”

I went out for dinner a few weeks ago with an equally depressed millennial facing the quarter life crisis. She shared with me that though she has an amazing job her prospects only look good from the outside. She tells me that her mother pays her rent. Car payments, healthcare, rent, food, fuel money… at what point does one save money when so many of us are crippling under debt? Feel like we have failed as we compare our lives to that of our parents? I guess the point is this thing is very real and I and many other anxious millennials are going through the motions. Hopefully I won’t shave all of my hair off again in an attempt to relive Britney 07… My main message is, we hear you, we see you, and it’s ok not to be ok.

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