Most of us of think (or are told) that the path to financial stability is to chose a “practical” or “profitable” academic major that will ensure career longevity and a “stable” 9-5 job. I’m doing an internship at government agency and most of my co-workers say that despite taking such a path, their wallets are still tight and life isn’t as affordable as they would like it to be. Most of my friends who are in the workforce report the same thing about their fellow employees. So, if I’m going to be just as broke after college as I am now, I might as well take on whatever crazy, career goal I want, right? Then, I might be broke, but I’ll happy as the sun with my daily, 40hrs/week job.
"Academics are forced to write in language no one can understand...They have to say 'discourse', not 'talk'. Knowledge that is not accessible is not helpful."- Gloria Steinem
"You want to play house, you've got to have a job. You want to play nice house, very sweet house, you've got to have a job you don't like." (Revolutionary Road)
When others can’t deal with YOUR life-change.
There are plenty of pros to having family and friends that have known you since you were young. The downside, however, is that these are the people least likely to embrace or be understanding of your life change(s). When you experience a life-altering event or go through a period of personal reflection, you are bound to change in some way, mainly in perspective or behavior. Whether the changes are positive or negative, great or small, those who know you well will notice them. Sometimes, seeing these differences will make them uncomfortable, concerned or treat you differently. This response only makes difficult life-changes that much more challenging.
My “quarter-life crisis” began with my career choice concerns, but it has slowly branched out into other areas of my life. I’m not as unsure about the other aspects of my life as I am with my career options, but I’m definitely at a place of re-evaluation and reinvention. As I have processed through this period of personal growth, some of my ideas and behaviors have changed, and those who have known me awhile have made it obvious that they are VERY UNCOMFORTABLE with this. Some keep reminding me of what I USED to do, say, like & feel in this disappointed and disheartened tone. Some are confused about how I’ve reached this point and why I can’t just “snap out of it.” Others are more encouraging and positive, viewing it all as natural and “a part of growing up and becoming wiser.” I agree with the latter concept. Yes, all of this change is frightening and stressful at times, but I firmly believe these experiences are beneficial to learn from.
I’m glad I have people in my life that will be honest and express their concerns with me if something alarms them, but its BEYOND FRUSTURATING to constantly be compared to who I was when I was in high school or even when I was 20 (I’m 25 now). If you don’t re-evaluate, reform or transform during your lifespan, you’re stubborn and not learning a darn thing. There have been so many moments since I’ve been in grad school where someone has said to me “well, you never do this…” or “you used to be this way” and I wanted yell “well, some things freakin’ change!!! There’s s a first time for everything!! What are you going to do about it?! You either help me deal with this, or get the hell out of my way!” When discussing my career confusion, for example, one person said to me “You’ve never been concerned about your career path. I’m not used to you being this way.” Well, guess what? I’m not either! It’s new for me too! You think it’s uncomfortable for YOU, well, how do you think I feel?! As far as I’m concerned, my support system has the easy part. They just get to listen and maybe give advice. I have to make the hard decisions and live with them.
“I’m not used to you being this way.” I think my friend’s statement explains why others freak out when you experience a life-change. In each personal relationship, we have a specific role that the other person comes to rely on. For instance, in a sibling relationship, the older sibling may be protective of the younger. The moment the older sibling isn’t protective, the younger one may take issue. In application to myself, my support system isn’t used to me being confused or discombobulated about anything. They’re not used to me having to rev-evaluate or reform. I’ve always had everything clearly mapped out and defined. I suppose that some of them have come to rely on my solidarity, particularly when they’re distressed. Now that I don’t seem as stable to them, maybe they’re concerned that they don’t have someone to come to for answers. Perhaps it’s just a fear of the unfamiliar, or a fear that my social dynamic with them will be affected by “altered” role. I’m not sure what the case is, but their assessments are only making my personal process more convoluted and stressful.
A friend and I were talking about how since we started college, our parents have gradually ceased to parent us. You would think that we would be happy about this, considering we spent most of our adolescence hungering for autonomy, but our parents have gone from one extreme to the other. They went from borderline over-involvement to nearly none at all. At a time in our lives where the term “quarter-life crisis” is applicable, some of us 20-somethings would appreciate a moderate amount of guidance and input from our parents. Growing up, my parents always used to say “I know better than you; I’ve been there and done that.” Now that I want some of that “been there and done that” perspective, I’m not getting it; even when I blatantly ask for it. When I ask for advice, my parents sometimes glaze over it or give a generalized answer.
I think this issue occurs because our parents incorrectly assume that the 20’s are seamlessly easy or that we don’t need or desire their input because we’re now self-sufficient young adults. The lack of advice may also be a result of simply not knowing what to suggest (major generational or cultural differences may be a contributor). Either way, this drastic reduction in parental counsel is not working and can lead to communication issues between parents and their adult children. If you haven’t already, I encourage you 20-somethings to address this problem with your parents. Don’t be afraid or too prideful to ask for a little more input or support. If you’ve unsuccessfully attempted to address it, go back and analyze how you approached the discussion; approach affects results. If you’re confident in your approach and still don’t have the results you desire, you may have to seek support from another source, such as a counselor or a different relative. Good luck finding resolve.
I used to think that there was this “magic age” where I’d have everything planned out perfectly and there would be nothing to stress out about. Wrong. EVERY stage in life has its challenges; its pros and cons. It’s just the types of problems that change.