Oh the quarter life crisis. Ye ol' time of the 2012 Armageddon prophecy crept up faster than we thought it would from our 9th grade global classrooms. Add that to the dishearteningly young age of One Direction's eldest members and I'm feeling too old to be a young'n — and too young to be a proper pedophile.
Alas it's far too real when I'm feeling awkward around the practically prepubescent kids on way too many drugs at music festivals. On one hand, there's that strangely enviable boat of adolescent commercial success that most of us are kicking ourselves for having missed out on.
And on the other, we got to indulge in our own versions of Lilo meltdowns in relative privacy — without too much evidence left over from our drunkest mishaps. But here we are on the other side of college or about to graduate, realizing there's no such thing as the real world — no standardized test to pass us into adulthood.
This age has a lot of pressure on it. 23 is the last official year of being on the young side of our 20s before we're over the hill. Back in middle school, watching Blink-182 wreak havoc in the streets looked like the climax of life and the utmost celebration of youth.
But at this momentous collision of independence and immaturity, everyone I know in my peer group is looking around at each other in a panic, electrical bills substituting coasters for shot glasses and shrieking, “What's my age again??” In denial or too blazed to remember — I'll let you decipher.
The most challenging part of this time is realizing it can be hard to keep yourself motivated. Without structured time slots and goals mapped out by midterms as it always had been in your past, it can be pretty confusing to inspire yourself to keep the fire beneath your feet. We are expected to act upon achieving our loftiest goals often while we've had very little time to truly develop pipe dreams of our own.
All the while, the reality of things translates into working crummy jobs, dealing with disrespectful bosses on power trips and trying to justify the whole starving artist thing while your parents anxiously await you to grow out of this hobby of yours. Inspiration dwindles and discouragement lingers with every application that falls upon blind eyes. I don't know when it started, but Newton's law has been ringing in my ears as of late: An object in motion, stays in motion.
On my most recent visit to my former college campus, I couldn't help but harbor a tiny pang of envy for the students still caught up in college life. I won't get carried away — I despised the claustrophobia that classrooms provoked and the endless hours behind computer screens.
How an angry clock constantly pushed us to reach impossible deadlines and sent us into the depths of sleep deprivation. But this jealousy mostly stemmed from a romantic nostalgia for the sense of purpose that was possessed, at least enough to justify the purposelessness of the weekends we dove into.
There lay daily goals in sight and an ultimate one looming in the near distance. The stamina, focus and balance it took to get through school may not have been debatable then, but how this momentum carries over into post-grad life depends entirely upon our own willpower now.
My trip down college memory lane, feet mud deep in campus grass and a brief stint in the library, against my will, actually worked wonders in jogging my confused sense of drive. I had dreams here. That was the running narrative of my days back at the scene of my most salient youth crimes.
And those fantasies included being freed from that tiny bubble on its small corner of the earth. Money, duty, responsibility, family, doubt and fear: the threats of real world failures lodge themselves into our minds with raging discouragement.
But revisiting the business and wildness of college can feel like pressing the refresh button. It was a pretty good time — one that we are still digesting and recovering brain cells as a result of. But the best times in life? I'm not quite ready to be overcome by romantic longing for the good ol' days just yet.
There are plenty of reasons to celebrate the golden age of 23. While the pressure to grow up plays tug of war with our nostalgia for recklessness, now's a good time to weed out what makes us feel shitty and to focus on what makes us tick. Why not push ourselves to keep up the perseverance practiced in school — but on our own terms this time.
The best part about quitting that menial job that has you questioning your self worth is that you'll only be back to where you were a few months ago — having to start over. It's a whole lot easier to do with the energy we have now.
Learn from the lessons of the unhappy blokes zombieing around midtown with bleary eyes and another coffee fueled day ahead of them. Go beyond your comfort zone and don't fear making the mistakes it takes to get yourself on your own path.
“Growing up” is just a matter of trial and error — not a one-way elevator to the top, but like the labyrinths of chutes and ladders. So don't feel bad about where you are, wherever you are. Just remain invested in your dreams. Now's the time to make them come true.
And at the very least get inspired by the mockery of growing up that Blink-182 exhibited with that fateful streak through condescending folk back in the day. They've got kids now. Proof that there are many years ahead to fall in line.
Let's revel in the chance to try on the lives we imagined while pulling out our hair in the basement of the library during finals week. Don't let a quarter life crisis get you down — get moving and stay moving in this time of uncertainty. But don't forget to take ample time to live it up Blink style.
Alyssa A. | Elite.