Yesterday I read Welcome to Your Quarterlife Crisis , a feature on twenty-something ennui. The piece starts with a depressing anecdote about an empty relationship between a 26 and 27 year old. They’re each going through the motions in their lives, not sure of what to do next with respect to their jobs, living situations, and futures. This section of the piece is perhaps best summarized by Fountains of Wayne’s 2007 masterpiece, Somebody to Love starring Demitri Martin.
The feature goes on to talk about the twentysomething generation’s pervasive inability to make a decision and find satisfaction, with women being more conflicted than men because they are torn between their biological clock and a drive for career success.
I’m no stranger to the first-world problem Welcome to Your Quarterlife Crisis discusses. Just yesterday, feeling a sudden onset of panic over my state of affairs, I resolved to act by updating my Facebook profile picture to something hip and forward-thinking. Behold. Pretty good eh? To the casual observer, it says, “She drinks out of mugs and takes pictures of herself.” To the critical observer, it says, “She is hiding her mouth.” And to the astute observer, it says, “She is hip and forward-thinking. Casual observers need not apply.”
Anyway. Welcome to Your Quarterlife Crisis, which dedicates almost three thousand words to discussing ennui and a whopping twenty-five words to suggesting a solution, advises those going through a quarterlife crisis to establish a five-year plan. A five-year plan is a plan cleverly named after its duration. The first time I thought about a five-year plan was a first date I had with a suitor four years ago:
He asked, “What’s your five year plan?”
Intrigued, I leaned in and said, “Well if this date goes well, in five years I see us together, married, in a house, with a baby, maybe two, because I’m biologically predisposed to twins, on the way.” Then I winked and said, “What’s YOUR five year plan?”
“Grad school.” He replied.
That relationship ended up not working past a first date (he clearly lacked a sense of humor), and I pursued a different five-year plan which included starting imawkward.com, graduate school, traveling, a career change, home ownership and some meaningful relationships. Nothing quite worked out the way I envisioned, but things have worked out okay –knock on wood- and I managed to accomplish (read: stumble into) most of the things on my list. So rather than spending time on feelings of inadequacy (read: I’ll probably still do this every once in a while too, just maybe less) I’ll keep plugging away and see what happens next.
My five-year plan is constantly shifting. And that’s a sorry suggestion to help kids with their 20-something ennui. Everyone knows that when you’re suffering from the pointlessness of life, you’re supposed to get your hair cut or a tattoo. Duh.