Quarter-Life Crisis

Lundagårds student life columnist Philippa Scholz, at 24, confesses to navigating a quarter-life crisis, realising its statistical relevance before turning 25. Exploring her current anxieties as likely symptoms, she wonders: Could this be the quintessential quarter-life challenge?

We all know about the mid-life crisis. Growing up, every second comedy sketch or film referenced a man going through a divorce and dating someone half his age or buying a motorbike. Women, when portrayed at all, were typically shown as crazy menopausal monsters or struggling with men no longer finding them attractive. 

As much as these stereotypes are damaging, at least there is a nod to a transition that seems to happen halfway through our lives. Culturally we have acknowledged there is some inherent shift in our bodies, desires and roles in society. Although mocked, we recognise its existence. But what about the quarter-life crisis?

Entering into the public psyche in the 2010s, it only came to my attention after watching a comedy sketch of the same name by Taylor Tomlinson. It struck a chord. From jokes about friends getting married and unstable relationships, to religion and mental health, I felt so seen. Maybe that makes me basic, but it doesn’t matter. For the first time, I realised that my confusion was felt by many and that made it just that little easier to handle.

The quarter-life crisis arises from a confusion of what choices should be made, when and why. Only in the last generation or two have those between 18 and 25 been given enough freedom to choose what they want. Particularly as a woman, I acknowledge that if I had been born 100 years earlier, I would most likely be married and have a child by now, especially having grown up in a Christian household. 

And for some of those I grew up with, that’s the case! They are married, already have a child or are buying their first home. On the other hand, I have friends who plan on never getting married, hate the idea of children and are happy to move to a new country every few months. I feel somewhat trapped in between. 

I am studying a master’s program to pursue a career, am in a long-term relationship and like the idea of having a place of my own. Paradoxically, I also want to experience more of what the world has to offer, don’t particularly desire marriage and am starting to struggle with the pressure I put on myself to achieve societal accolades. To add to my confusion, I am asked simultaneously why I am working too much/too little, am not married yet/not single, too serious/too flakey. Twenty-somethings receive a barrage of opinions, yet they all contradict one another. 

Sadly, I don’t have any soothing words of wisdom to bestow on myself or others. The only solace I can give is perspective. Yes, there are many different paths to choose, but no matter which we take, there will be so many twists and turns. Others’ paths may intertwine or destroy yours, or you may decide to get off the beaten track and find another. As cliche as it is, I think the beauty really is in trying to slow down enough to take in the scenery. At least, that’s what I have been told.