If 40-somethings can have their Midlife Crisis. And 20-somethings can have their Quarterlife Crisis... I’m entitled to my Three-Quarterlife Crisis!
We all know the Midlife Crisis. The classic pudgy guy with hair plugs in his little red corvette. But it’s an actual, psychological phenomenon that affects men and women... You’re caught up with career, family, “life” stuff. Suddenly you pause to look back and see the tracks you left. Maybe you’re on course. Maybe you’ve lost your way. That Talking Heads song keeps playing in the back of your mind, the one that goes: “You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?”
Quarterlife Crisis is the new-ish term to describe the anxiety men and women in their mid-20s feel as they venture out into the real world for the first time. (The term’s in a John Mayer song, so it must be a “thing.”) These youngsters feel lost and confused. They’ve studied hard to work in their chosen field, then find out they have to start at the bottom! Wha—? Or maybe they suddenly realize there aren’t many jobs for Comparative Literature majors. Either way, they’re at a scary crossroads in their lives.
I did the math: the average life expectancy in the US is just shy of 79. That makes midlife pretty much 40 (39.50 to be exact). Quarterlife would be 20, but I’ll spot you up to 25... So that means at 59.25 your life is three-quarters over, statistically speaking. Surprise!
Let the Three-Quarterlife Crisis begin!
Okay, so at 20 you’re not sure what you want to do, join the club. Except at your age, you’ve got time to figure it out. On top of that, you’ve got no overhead: no wife or husband, no kids or mortgage. You can quit whatever dead-end job you have in the blink of an eye, pretty much. You can hold your liquor. You eat what you want. You can stay out all night.
By 40, you’ve been at some job for a while; you call it a career when people ask at PTA meetings. Your salary is still small enough, your seniority still short enough, that you’re not a prime target for a layoff— yet. You imagine you’re in good health; at least you haven’t had the Big Medical Event. You only have the beginner’s paunch; you’ll be hitting the gym any day now. If you have kids, they’re in high school, so college tuition is just a pretend number. Your 401K is a good size you think, you don’t really know, but there’s still time, right?
At 60... (I haven’t hit that milestone quite yet but I’m getting there!) At 60, you’ve had your first heart attack (or quadruple bypass); maybe it was a stroke, a knee replacement at least. You’ve lost 40% of your muscle mass (1%- 2% per year starting at 30!), a good percentage of your bone density— women and men —and 50% of your hair. You spend a lot of time thinking about how you’re “going to age.” Retirement’s on the horizon, you can almost see it, even with bifocals. So long as you’re not laid off this late in the game, you’re in the clear.
The Three-Quarterlife Crisis isn’t for wimps because it’s not about what you’re going to do or what you’ve already done. It’s more about what was the point and what you do next. Anyone who saw Jim McMahon and the ‘85 Bears (John Elway or Brett Favre in his prime) knows you can get a lot done in the 4th quarter. You’ll get through this crisis, too; I guess everyone kind of has to.
Same as it ever was...
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