I just turned 23 and I am terrified.
I’m beginning to have a near quarter-life crisis. I’m convinced it’s a thing. I’m convinced that it’s a thing chock full of hilarity and anxiety, as I realize I’m not the center of the universe and that the things I do now will either not matter in the slightest next week or might affect me for the next 20 years.
Failure has never seemed like a bigger deal than it does now. Not only am I attempting to get into a graduate program (which will consume the next 3 years of my life…thanks Obama*), but I have to consider how every action will have a subsequent reaction that could bode well or terribly for myself and my husband. I’m careful not to be a *millennial* by definition (meaning self-involved beyond repair), careful not to rock the boat too much and careful not to be too careful. I want to be seen as hard-working but laid back, motivated but patient, and skilled yet eager to learn. How do we find the perfect balance between our present selves and our future selves?
Being in your twenties has never been scarier than it is for our generation (I’m making this statement after speaking with many of my friends who seem just as freaked out as I am). Although a lot of us are coming into the game armed with education and good experiences, it’s becoming more and more critical for us to realize that education and experience alone won’t make us stand out. It won’t make us the more desirable candidate for a job and it certainly won’t make our student loans, car payments, and rent go away. It can feel truly overwhelming.
I know I can’t be the only one who feels this way, which provides an odd sense of comfort and solidarity. While all of the problems we face are very real, they are also very much old news. Our parents and grandparents had their own set of issues. At the ripe age of 23, you might be considered a spinster in the South if you weren’t married with a babe or two when my grandparents were coming up. They faced discrimination, prejudice, war, and extreme rationing. Times were tough, they were resilient, and we’re all here as proof that sometimes the worst of times can produce the best of things, and people. The fear of failure is omnipresent, but what we can channel that fear into? Probably something magnificent. Everyone needs their driving force of motivation, something that can stoke the fires within us to produce something really different, or really beautiful, or really useful. Our generation needs to remember that we have a lot to prove to ourselves and the ebb and flow of society will march on, no matter how badly we do on an exam or how frustrating figuring out adulthood can be. It’s not our fault that we’re new here.
*I do not truly blame Obama for any of my woes. Relax, Mr. President. You’ve got a mid-life crisis of your own to worry about.
Featured image via GalleryHip