What happens to life after college? For so many of us it’s a time where we don’t know exactly where we are going or heading. Friends get engaged, married, and pregnant while we wonder if life is passing us by faster than we thought. We worry about finding jobs and wonder where to go in our careers once we do find that first gig. In short, the Quarterlife crisis is where we stop being kids and start being grown up.
For the next few days I’ll be hosting different perspectives on our post-college lives because even though we maybe going through times of personal growth and exploration- we aren’t doing it alone.
Today’s post comes from my college roommate Mike Chiasson. He is a 25 year old IT Manager for a publicly traded company in Massachusetts and is happily engaged. He is finishing up his master’s degree in Communications and is also actively involved in the internet marketing landscape and runs a blog sharing his experiences in the field over at MikeChiasson.com. Mike’s goal for 2010 is to earn over $100,000.
All week people have been discussing their experiences with dealing with being 25 years old. They’ve ranged from people lacking accountability to those with extreme commitments already locked in for their quarter life crisis. There also seemed to be a lot of talk surrounding college and it’s pretty obvious how important a role college has played for all these authors.
Today I want to clarify exactly what the problem with being 25 is and offer some suggestions to help us make it through this “grueling” age.
If you look at all the other posts the clear problem is that for the past 25 years we were living a prescribed plan. We were to attend school from ages 5-18 and then optionally go back for more school from 19-23. Then by the time we are 25 we were supposed to have a good handle on our lives and be ready to be all that we were meant to be….which is what?!?
Now of course we all took different paths but it seems that this was the general trend of things. Alas, we are 25 now, out on our own, no prescribed plan is in the books for us, we are independent and out of the grove. We have left our comfort zone, this is the crisis at hand.
It’s natural for humans to want some direction, without direction what would we do with ourselves? If you started a new job today and no one showed you what to do, you probably wouldn’t get much of anything done. This is where we are in life right now.
Sure there are the standard things that we are being pushed to, marriage, children, home ownership, riches, etc. However we are so diverse in America that if you don’t go down one of those roads it’s not the end of your life (unlike if you would’ve dropped out of high school *gasp!*). So the force telling you what to do isn’t quite what it once was.
Even though we are all lost so to speak, we do know something as Americans. If we aren’t being productive we are being a waste. A lot of other countries give a lot of credit to the person who can be calm and take a nap during the day to make sure they feel rested. In America we always feel that we have to be doing something. To sit around and play video games all day on a weekend means you just lost a perfect day to get a ton of stuff done. So we are in this constant upswing where we don’t know what we want but we know we want to do something. Otherwise we feel simply empty.
So how can we fix this? Sorry to say everyone but for the most part if you feel these feelings you aren’t going to be able to change anytime soon. So you might as well be constructive with yourself. I always love New Year’s Eve because it gives me the chance to share some outrageous goal that I have for myself that year, and if I do nothing else productive but complete that resolution then the year was a good one.
Therefore I recommend we all take a moment to think of something we want to do, maybe one thing a month and decide how we are going to accomplish that. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy that will take 100 hours to practice, but something you might just have never thought you were capable of doing, something that can give you some direction. My friend Nick recently got the following bottle cap, and is convinced it’s the best advice he has ever received, and it certainly gave him direction!
- 30 days with no TV (May)
- 30 days of 10,000 steps each day (June)
- 30 days biking into work (July)
- 30 days with no Microsoft software or operating systems (October)
- 30 days with no Twitter or FriendFeed (January)
- 30 days with no sugar (March). That was hard. My wife and I did this one together and it was the roughest.
Now looking at those months I was thinking how impossible it would be for me to do those, but how amazing it would feel to have something small to work on each day that you can look back on and just say ‘Wow I did do something for myself this month!’ 4 years ago I gave up drinking soda, I was an addict taking in about 4 liters a day. After 3 years of not drinking soda I felt pretty damn proud of myself everytime someone had offered me one and I turned it down and they would look at me and go ‘No soda for you?…really?’ If I could continue pulling off tasks that would make people say that to me I would be golden!
So I challenge everyone, let’s put some direction back into our 25 year old directionless lives. Nothing says it has to be earth shattering, just something for us to follow and be happy with.
Lastly I wanted to mention that even though we might be having a quarter century life crisis there are still some pretty sweet things about being 25. I compiled a short list on my blog, check it out!