Monday, August 9, 2010

Quarter-life crisis

The term quarter-life crisis was actually coined to describe those among the younger generation who, given vast access to education and choices, emerged on the other side with little inkling of that which they wanted to devote the rest of their lives too - directionless and afloat.

Indeed, the term seems invariably to require some explanation when used, because unlike a mid-life crisis, you don't often see 20-somethings buying a Porche to recapture their youth. Yet, at the core of the quarter-life crisis is a similar problem. Where the 40-something year old pauses and exclaims, "My life is half over! What have I done with my life?!" the 20-something year old pauses and exclaims, "My life is a quarter over! What am I going to do with my life?!"

Of course, allowing the term quarter-life crisis apply to 20-somethings defines fairly implicit expectations. For instance, if you say a quarter-life crisis occurs at 20, we're expecting our youth to live to approximately 80. If you apply it to a 25 year old, you expect them to live to approximately 100.

This struck me recently as I was pondering the direction of my life. See, like most young people, I seldom stop to think about my own mortality nor to question my own longevity. I've always assumed as a young, healthy 20-something in the upper-middle class, I would live well into my 80's and possibly even 90's.

But as I stopped to think about my life today, I realized something. I'm stressed. I'm stressed all the freaking time. I stress out about the smallest and most inconsequential things in life. Then, when it comes to the things that I truly care about - friends, family, relationships, school, and my upcoming USMLE exam... I sweat buckets. I stress out constantly and chronically, such that I can feel the blood vessels in my brain contracting and expanding into tiny little aneurysmal pockets of joy. If stress ages you, I must be at least 35.

I started wondering if maybe I should be adjusting my life-expectancy downward, perhaps somewhere into the 70's. My new life plan goes something like this:
  1. School until 26.
  2. Residency until 31.
  3. Fellowship +/- 1-2 years.
  4. Work 30-35 years.
  5. Promptly die.
It's scary to think about, but if a killer illness hasn't claimed me by my 60's and 70's, there's a reasonable chance that my brain will be on its way to demented-ville.

I think I'm having my one-third-life crisis.

3 comments:

sandlot said...

By your calculations, you're going to promptly die at 63-68 years of age.

WTH. I have great plans for us at that age. It involves tropical Hawaiian shirts, bingo nights and an RV.

FleurLapin said...

That's a depressing outlook on life. Don't you want to live long and prosper(sounds like something from Star Trek... lol)? I'm sure when you get to your prime (which I'm thinking around your 40's) you'll enjoy life and not be as stressed out.

I do agree on quarter life crises. I just went through one, overcame it, and relatively happy I'm not so stressed out by career choices etc etc etc.

Hope you feel better and not think about a premature death!

Jerry said...

Where do I sign up for this life plan? Does it come with health insurance? Is there dental?!??!