Trying Out Adulthood: Why The 'Early 20s Crisis' Is Definitely A Thing

by Leanne Quinn

When you hear the term "life crisis," you might envision a man in his mid-40s, who has just decided to ditch his career, buy a swanky Lamborghini and move to the Bahamas.

Well, I'm here to tell you a life crisis no longer exclusively applies to the middle-aged.

How do I know? Because I'm living it right now -- adulthood -- and I'm not alone.

I recently bought a bright yellow, tinted-window sports car. (I use the term incredibly loosely, but if it's good enough for my younger brothers, then it's good enough for me.)

Can I afford this car? Nope.

Can I afford any car? Not particularly.

So, why did I buy it?

The only logical explanation is I feel like I'll be driving efficient, semi-professional and roadworthy cars in the years to come.

I laugh when I see it, and I hope it'll be a car that reminds me of my somewhat irresponsible and carefree early 20s.

However, being a psychology student with an incurable curiosity, I crave to understand what exactly possessed me to buy my own Bumblebee.

Thus, I've hypothesized that an early 20s life crisis does exist, and the majority of us in our early 20s are thinking and feeling the exact same thing.

We are the ones who don't know what we want.

We are the ones still deciding what kind of person we want to be.

We are the ones masquerading as adults, when really, we haven't a clue.

We are the ones who question if where we are is where we want to be.

We are the ones who spend hours watching Netflix because it's still socially acceptable to do so.

We are the ones envious of those who have already found their passions in life, and are actively pursuing them.

We are the ones transitioning from club-life to pub-life because the music is now too loud to talk.

We are the ones who feel like we should have accomplished something (anything) in our lives by now.

We are the ones in an early 20s life crisis.

At this age, we're blessed because we have no major responsibilities, the world is our oyster and we're (relatively) free to go out and explore the world.

We hear that our 20s are the best years of our lives, and we fully intend to live up to that.

The only thing is, we don't really know how.

Whether we're just out of university, reaching the end of our undergrad studies or working at a job that's paying the bills, with no real opportunities for progression, we can't help but wonder: Are we even on the right path?

Is whatever degree I'm studying even what I want to do? What am I even good at? Or (if you're really into the over-analyzing) what is my purpose in life?

We want to see the world, travel while we can, experience new things and meet new people. However, we also want budding careers.

We want to make something of ourselves, in a job or lifestyle that makes us happy to get out of bed in the morning and not dread the thoughts of the day ahead.

The problem is, we're not sure what it is we're passionate about.

We haven't found that one thing that drives us every morning, that motivates us to tackle the day with enthusiasm and make a difference.

We want to make sure we reflect on our 20s as the time of our lives. But by traveling, partying and enjoying our youth, are we sacrificing the best years to climb the career ladder?

Or by spending our 20s in education and the workforce, to guarantee ourselves a successful career, are we sacrificing the best years of seeing the world, learning and broadening our horizons?

We're also trying to decide if it's best to be single through this transition, or whether now is a good time to start thinking about putting ourselves out there and looking for a possible relationship.

After all, it would be nice to have someone else to talk to about these things.

But if we're in a relationship, we can't help but think there are things we'd rather or should be doing alone, without having to consider another person.

No regrets and all that.

We're starting to realize just how hard it is to be financially independent.

Maybe we have loans to pay or bills coming in we're now solely responsible for, because it's starting to become less acceptable to ask the parents for a dig out each time.

We're finding novelty in going for coffee dates and shopping for pant suits because it feels like a pretense, like we're not really a part of this phenomenon they call "adulthood."

We're at that awkward stage where half of our friends are settling down, getting engaged and starting families, while the other half are stumbling out of nightclubs, inebriated at ungodly hours of the morning.

We don't really belong to either category because while we're trying to evade unnecessary responsibilities, we'd like to think we're a bit more advanced than we were at 18.

Where we are never seems good enough.

We're never happy to just be. We're constantly thinking of the next place we can go and the next stage in our lives.

The endless possibilities of the future are overwhelming, rather than settling. The countless opportunities gifted to us make us dizzy when it comes to making a decision.

We're still finding out our likes and dislikes, and discovering new interests every day.

We're starting to prioritize what's important to us. But we haven't gotten it right just yet.

This is the early 20s life crisis, and I think it affects the majority of us Millennials.

Maybe we'll never get there, wherever "there" is. But life's not about getting there.

It's about what you do, what you see, what you learn and who you meet along the way.

Remember that, and we might just emerge from this crisis as a happier, well-rounded, successful, educated and empathetic generation, who will look back on their 20s as the time of our lives.