For the last few years I’ve joked about the elusive quarter-life crisis (and technically you can blame John Mayer since I first heard the term back in high school with his song “Why Georgia”). I don’t know that I view it as a crisis, per say, but I do think entering “adulthood” lends itself to a lot of “what the hell am I going to do with my life??” questions and thoughts.
The middle sister re-pinned this article about the benefits of having a quarter-life crisis a couple days ago and while it’s a little over the top, I love that it finally gave me a way to conceptualize the whole “life after school” idea I’ve been grappling with for the last year and a half. (And it could just be because I’m a nerd and found a way to think about it graphically.) It’s also interesting because I think it dawned on me that the “crisis” isn’t necessarily about making decisions — it’s about changing mindsets.
Life up through grad school was really linear. Each semester I felt like I was moving along a constant upward slope, going from point A to B to C and so on. I had new classes, new challenges and a set of goals to work toward. Now my line moves all over the place and never at a constant rate. Some months I feel like I grow by leaps and bounds, and other times I feel like I’m stuck. For someone who’s goal-oriented and loves self-improvement, it’s a tough transition (hence the monthly goals and dabblings in different activities).
What’s really interesting, at least from my perspective, is that it changes how I view success and accomplishments. There are no longer A’s or an apparent progression of skills and knowledge that you’re then tested on at the end of the semester. I have to define what success means for me, both personally and professionally. And maybe that’s part of the quarter-life crisis. Goals shifted from being externally placed on me to me having to figure out what I want from myself. What do I want to work toward in the next year? What’s important to me?
Maybe that’s why I’ve been fascinated with the quarter-life crisis. It sparks introspection, which we all know I love. And slowly but surely, I’ll get the hang of this whole “adulthood” thing. At least I hope so.