Patrick Stump has a song called, “On the Bad Side of 25.” Now, if I keep up with this project, it’s going to become very apparent that Mr. Stump is my celebrity husband. Let’s just get that out of the way now. I’ve had a crush on him since I thought I was the most punk rock princess this side of Avril Lavigne. My musical tastes may have shifted (a bit), but my undying admiration has not. Let’s air this out now and move on.
Regardless of the lyrics of the song, the title alone makes me smile. It’s the perfect way to describe the way I’ve felt since 12 AM on July 24th, 2011, when I turned 25 and arrived firmly at my own quarter-life crisis. That’s when I took a good look around myself and thought, “Crap.”
25 is still, “young,” but it’s a big change. The world generally stops considering you a kid. Suddenly, if you were married, or pregnant, people wouldn’t look at you funny, or exclaim how young you are. You’re, “supposed” to be pushing forward in your career, thinking about home ownership, and just be an adult.
I feel miles away from that.
I graduated from college in the winter of 2008/2009. Just as the Recession became a very real, very scary thing. Parents, professors, and advisors stopped giving us the feeling that the world was at our feet. It felt a bit like being kicked out of the nest, but the forest was already on fire. Overwhelming. You’ve got to push as hard and as fast as you can. The competition for jobs was, and is, extreme. The glorious idea of chasing after your heart’s desire was suddenly protrayed as a silly, even stupid. Never, ever, turn down a job because it’s not what you wanted. Be happy you have one.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am incredibly happy to be employed, providing me with the ability to feed myself, and the two furry mouths that depend on me. I’ve learned so much in the jobs I’ve had since gradution. I’ve developed not just skills, but humility. I’ve dropped the self-indignant, know-it-all, act, and I dive in with my team. I wouldn’t change my path for anything. However, since the clock hit midnight on that fateful day, I can’t stop looking forward.
Do I spend every day doing what I love? Am I finally getting to the grown-up part? When can I stop accepting gas money from my parents every time I visit them? A quarter-life crisis doesn’t feel like a joke to me. I think my generation has some unique challenges. I’m sure many of us would love to drop everything and do nothing but push on in the direction our hearts tells us to go. But we can’t. The grass might be greener on the other side, but if we try to go over there, someone might atom bomb our current field when we’re not looking. So we stay put, and restlessly look around us; hoping we’ll have enough to maybe, someday, become grown ups.
Luckily, Mr. Stump doesn’t have to worry about this. I assume he feels fairly content with his lot in life. The rest of us, like me, are in a different boat. But the restlessness is starting to eat at me. I’m starting to try to rock the boat a bit, and feed my heart just a little each day. At the same time, carefully trying to make sure I don’t accidentally capsize myself. 25 is a bit of a bastard, and right now, I’m totally on his bad side. But I’m a pretty good sweet-talker.