Quarter-life Crisis or Crescendo?

Clearly, Americans in general resist aging. We do every thing from lie about our ages (turning 29 for the third year in a row) to shelling out beaucoup money on “age defying” cosmetics. In our culture, we admire youth. That’s why we have the age-old phenomenon of the mid-life crisis. We all know the archetypes: the fifty year old man buying a red sports car, the forty-year old woman dating the twenty year old guy. Well, there are actually some theories about our emotional reactions to aging.

According to an article on Cliffnotes.com, as people age they try to preserve their ego and avoid feelings of despair about running out of time or wasting the time they had. Basically, people have an age related crisis when they want to maintain the self-image of their youth or when they have lots of regrets. Older people, according to CN, spend more and more time reminiscing or agonizing over their past.

But it’s not just the 40+ crowd having these kinds of issues. Apparently, along with tons of other shifts in age related behavior and expectations, twenty-somethings are experiencing an age related crisis too. It’s officially deemed a quarter-life crisis.

I’m thinking about this because I’m a twenty-something who just had a birthday. (Doesn’t everyone get contemplative around their birthdays?) While I think I’ve had my own version of the quarter-life crisis recently, I’m feeling right at home in my new age of 27. Who new it would feel so good? My life might actually be building up to something, like a Crescendo! (Or a cliff, but I’ll stay positive.)

Since the QLC is a relatively new condition, I thought I’d look to our more experienced crisis survivors for a few life lessons. Going back to the CN article, regrets are often the catalyst for an age related crisis. This should teach younger people to do what they can now to avoid regrets later. I quote someone when I say, “We won’t regret the things we’ve done, only the things we have not done.” So, as soon as you finish reading my blog, get up and do something!

CN also says that old people spend lots of time thinking about their past and sharing it with everyone they meet. At twenty-something you may or may not have much of a past to dwell in, but you can certainly find an elderly person willing to share stories and wisdom from their life. Go forth and sit at their feet.

Now, since I’m not a total slacker, I’ve found another great source besides CN that describes 10 ways you can survive an age-related crisis. The Frisky article targets people in their twenties, but at S. L. Writes, I think it applies to any demographic.

Adapted from Christine Hassler as shared by Wendy Atterberry
  1. Live in the present moment.
  2. Stop comparing yourself to your peers.
  3. Don’t worry about what others think.
  4. Listen to your intuition.
  5. “Don’t’ wait for permission, approval, or validation.”
  6. Be decisive.
  7. Don’t fear mistakes.
  8. Do things alone.
  9. Surround yourself with good counsel.
  10. Serve others.

I add one more: Use what’s in your hand.

I realized I’ve been trying to live by these principles my entire life, but I think our social conditioning makes it difficult to really put these into practice. I think the key word is practice. It’s better than doing nothing. It’s better than letting fear of change, fear of failure, or fear of success keep us from our best lives. I suggest practicing one bit of advice at a time. Even the smallest change can make a big difference.

For more incredible readings on age related crises, check out the related articles below.

Peace and Love from Sarah L. Webb

What’s in your hand?