1/4 Life Crisis

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

In this response Neha tells me about the quarter-life crisis, which I know only from John Meyer. I also know of Abby Wilner’s work on the issue.

We talk about liminality, spatial and temporal transition a lot (and yet never enough). But new spaces and transitions do not constitute “reality.” When we ask the question, “Then where was I ten years ago” (a question that Ham Sandoval would ask), we verify the validity of Tomorrow as Reality? Transitions and our experiences of them merely indicate continuum. Indeed, it could be argued that our definitions and descriptions of reality add up to the problem of completion in phases. “I’m entering reality now.” What this means is that period of development in my life is “over” and now I can start living, a common phenomenon. This is my essential and benign disagreement with Neha. I can’t fight the narrative of contemporary life (the one sold as The (current) Way), at least the linear narrative that persists, by asserting the abundant alternatives.

This is tricky business. We all buy into some sort of narrative, a structured image we hold as valid against perceived reality: what we see either validates the image or we take what we can get. This image becomes a powerful structure for plot. In my professional position, I have absolutely no long term goals or aspirations because getting the position was immensely difficult and not something easily tossed off (it was a 12 to 15 year process just to get the job. Some do it in less time, other more). I now have short-term issues that need completion to satisfy a question: will this or that work or be interesting to try out? This does not delegitimize any other person’s goal, short or long. Neither does it make for “reality” or a “real world,” merely a now in which we all must act. It is difficult to remain still.

Okay, this is fun.

As to cushion. I partly agree with Neha. But at the moment, I can’t see how one can negate the balance of learning in a “choice-driven” environment and at the same time “experience” the world one hopes to enter in terms of a career.


One response to “1/4 Life Crisis”

  1. gibb says:

    No need to fear, Abby Wilner is here with a website, forum, books, and a manual to help anyone get through QLC (that’s the hip way to refer to this latest syndrome, by the way): http://www.quarterlifecrisis.com/