Guest Post: Anwen Hayward

Sometimes a minor quarter-life crisis can come from your lack of one. Sound confusing? Anwen Hayward of lacreativitea.wordpress.com explains.

anwen

Photo courtesy of Anwen Hayward

Historically speaking, my family have always been good at quarter life crises. My mother got married to a man with ringlets. My great-grandfather joined the Australian navy and got so many tattoos that he made his wife cry.

There’s even a rumour that a great-great-uncle developed a sudden lifelong whim to be a horse and cart driver, spending his family’s life savings on a cart pony and old wagon before falling into destitute alcoholism. I don’t know what happened to the horse.

So, with that information to hand, I rather expected that my own quarter life crisis would be the thing of legend. I was almost looking forward to it. I wondered what I’d do when I hit the sensible wall of my 20s and dived into the uncharted waters of quarter life rebellion.

Would I spend all my savings on designer clothing and taxidermied fish? Perhaps I’d develop a glamorous cocaine habit and start frequenting soho bars, or run off to Cambodia with a younger gentleman (although not too much younger, of course; I’d be a rebel, not a monster).

I had no idea what I’d do when the big 2-0 hit, but I knew it would be phenomenal. They’d commemorate my story to myth, write odes and ballads about me and get funny men in tights to sing them with lyre accompaniments. They would. I knew it.

“I rather expected that my own quarter life crisis would be the thing of legend”

Only it didn’t quite happen like that.

Last week, I reached the grand old age of 22, and to date the most rebellious thing I’ve ever done is dine and dash in a cafe in Paris, swindling the owner of a massive 1.50€. I lost sleep for days over that, before rationalising that the pubic hair I’d found in my pain au chocolat would cost me far more than 1.50€ in therapy in the years to come. Since then, I’d never had any desire to do anything more avant-garde than that. Not once in the 700 days since I’d hit 20 had I had any desire to change my life on a whim, or reevaluate my life goals on a gondola in Vienna.

In 365 days, at the age of 23, my mother would have been married to a man with ringlets. 365 days ago, at the age of 21, my great-grandfather would have got a tattoo of a mermaid with phenomenally large breasts on his bicep. 365 days ago, I was sitting in my office, typing away contendedly at a petty cash spreadsheet and daydreaming about books I’d never write. I fully expected to be doing the same thing in 365 days’ time. Hardly the stuff of legend.

“To date the most rebellious thing I’ve ever done is dine and dash in a cafe in Paris”

On the morning of my 22nd birthday, I sat in my bedroom in my parents’ house and ruminated about the crisis that I hadn’t had. Where was my revelation? What had happened to my epiphany? I was 22, for God’s sake. I was supposed to have realised that my life was fruitless and heading in an undesirable direction, catapulting me fast into the void of vain attempts at changing the pattern of my existence. I was supposed to have had some sort of realisation, some sort of sudden and undeniable proof that I should be angry with the way my life was going, and yet I hadn’t. I’d just sort of plodded along, completely content with the fact that I had an English degree and yet I’d been an assistant accountant for the past seven years.

At first, I wondered if perhaps I’d been brainwashed by the patriarchy. Perhaps I’d just been gradually pushed into not questioning my admittedly boring life. Perhaps my total and peaceful acceptance of my lot was not just my natural optimism, but a symptom of a systematic and total brainwashing by the system into deciding not to protest my ill luck.

“Where was my revelation? What had happened to my epiphany?”

And then I had an epiphany. In an ideal world, I would have had this revelation against the backdrop of a red-raw sunset over an African plain, but in reality, I was eating lunch at my office desk (the same lunch I have every day, packed in a pink lunchbox and devoured at the chime of 1pm). The revelation? That I was content. I just was. I hadn’t had a crisis because I didn’t need one. My brain wasn’t addled by a totalitarian state. It was just happy. I was just happy.

The revelation was a mildly shocking one. As a more creative person, I’d always expected to rue the monotony of working life. I knew that I was supposed to loathe the grind of the 9-5 workday. I was supposed to be young and angry with the system that forced me out of bed at 7.30 on weekdays. Yet, for now, I wasn’t. I quite enjoyed getting the same bus every day, learning about the lives and idiosyncracies of my fellow commuters. I even looked forward to the client review meetings on Friday afternoons.

I’m still not sure what my crisis will be, if it ever happens. Perhaps in 3 years’ time I’ll have a sudden desire to drop everything and become a graphic designer in Norway, or I’ll hit 26 and realise that my lifelong goal was always to become a Conservative politician, but for now, my only revelation to date has been that I don’t need a crisis or a turning point to bring my life into focus. All I need is some feeling of contentment, something to look forward to and a reason to be happy, and that as long as I have that, I’m quite happy to live in the moment and put the crisis off. At least until I’m 40, anyway.

Quarter-life Crisis: 10 Steps to Recovery

Although your journey out of the depths of crisis may not correlate with my timeframe, these are my personal steps for escaping the quarter-life crisis in handy timeline form.

Come for the info, stay for the .gifs

 

 

Has this been helpful? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @QLClueless and visit our tumblr.

 

Video: Things to do before you’re 25: Eat a tub of Nutella in one sitting

So according to the ‘Travels of Adam’, you should eat a tub of Nutella in one sitting before you turn 25.

Obviously this isn’t something we’d advise doing on a regular basis as it may end up in you becoming 25 stone when you’re 25. But here we go, this is me eating a tub of Nutella in one sitting. Enjoy.

Which countries are suffering from a quarter-life crisis?

Following on from our earlier post on how it is not just Britain that is suffering from a quarter-life crisis due to poor levels of youth employment. We thought we would ask our good friend Google which countries are suffering from a QLC the most. The results are quite surprising.

According to Google Trends there is in fact a number of other countries who are suffering from QLCs. However, what is surprising is that the country who searched for quarter-life crisis the most was not in fact the US or the UK – it was the Philippines. As you can see from the graph below, the Philippines have been using the search term ‘Quarter Life Crisis’ three times more than those in second place, the US. With Makati City being the place in crisis the most, closely followed by Quezon City and Manila.

Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 19.59.35

Youth unemployment has been rife in the Philippines, specifically over the years of 2009 – 2012 where unemployment among people aged under 30 averaged 74.825 million people over the four years, a rate of 12.65% – that’s a rate of one in eight people under the age of 30 being unemployed.

Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 19.59.43

However, as our graph shows Google’s data stretches back to 2005 therefore meaning that whilst unemployment hit it’s peak during the years of 2009 – 2012, the Philippines youth unemployment rate has been steadily decreasing over the last two years. A trend that has come about through the rise in part-time work becoming more readily available for the youth population in Philippines

Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 19.59.49

Quarter-Life Crisis Stat Sheet

Us generous folks at Quarter Life Clueless have distilled some of the biggest concerns of quarter life crisis sufferers into this handy stat sheet to give you some perspective on, and hopefully some reassurance about, your clueless situation.

 

Quarter Life Crisis Stat Sheet

 

Has this been helpful? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @QLClueless and visit our tumblr.

In for the long run: how a longer life caused your quarter-life crisis

Call us pedantic, but here at Clueless we’re a bunch of perfectionists. We like our beers cold and our Ginsters hot, our water parks big and our crazy-golf scores small. We also like to know why things are going wrong, and how we can stop them – which is why we got in touch with The Office for National Statistics (ONS) and quarter-life crisis expert Dr Oliver Robinson to see how modern day adulthood affects the QLC.

It turns out it all starts with life expectancy. Yep, living longer is actually a massive downer. The ONS gave us these stats:

lcteol71_tcm77-256147

For full statistics, click here

 

As you can see, life has gotten a lot longer over the past 100 years. But how is that related to the QLC? Well, it all starts with the age adulthood begins. According to Dr Robinson, for most of the 20th century 21 was deemed the age adulthood started (so three extra years of sponging off your parents – nice). When combined with the average life expectancy of the period in question, it meant you started working and living independently later, and, as you were expected to die a lot earlier, you were working for a much shorter period of time (yay!).

Instead now we start adulthood at 18 (and some of us start our careers as early as 16, for example in apprenticeships) and work until around the age of 70 – that’s a lot more early mornings, traffic jams, and mind-numbing toil. Now consider the fact that most 18 year-olds don’t actually consider themselves adult until six or seven years later and you see the problem; being thrust into an uncomfortable position of independence at 18, a position which you don’t feel you’re ready for, and you’re likely to get stressed out – but looking ahead and seeing decades and decades of the same is just plain depressing.

And unfortunately, it isn’t going to get any better. With life expectancy in the UK rocketing, the forecast for future generations looks even bleaker – better keep a spare room in your future house, because there’s a fair chance that the kids will be moving back in…

lcteolbirth74_tcm77-256349If you fancy hearing more academic insights into your QLC then check out Dr Robinson’s Clueless guest post!

VIDEO: What’s the best thing about being in your twenties?

With the arduous job-hunting, high rents and scary choices, we sometimes forget that being 20-something is seriously exciting.

For a nice reminder, we asked four fellow millenials to do a selfie clip each telling us what they like most about their age. Here’s what they said.

 

Courtesy of justine-reyes, Creative Commons

Courtesy of justine-reyes, Creative Commons

 

 

 

The Quarter-life crisis in words

QLC word cloud

“I don’t want just words. If that’s all you have for me, you’d better go

What does this guy know anyway? Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons  https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

What does this guy know anyway? Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

Well hold on there F. Scott Fitzgerald (#namedrop), you haven’t even seen what we’re going to do with them yet! Jeez, this guy.

In a previous post, we looked at how the quarter-life crisis was represented in news media, and now we’ve gone back to the features, news stories and guides to the quarter-life crisis to look at the words it’s couched in.

For our purposes, these word clouds pull out the most frequently used terms – the bigger the word, the more times it was used in the original articles. In this first overall word cloud (above), there’s a lot of peripheral information to sift through, particularly irrelevant numbering.

The themes that pop out (aside from obvious terms like ‘crisis’) aren’t that surprising; ‘work’ and ‘jobs’ were used frequently enough to correlate them with QLCs. However, some are more interesting. ‘Parents’ would seem to reflect on both a comparison with previous generations and a need to live at home for financial reasons.

If we break it down further, we can see trends more clearly. For example, if we focus only on the long-form news feature articles and raise the bar for times a word is used, a slightly clearer picture emerges. We combined this guardian article, this telegraph article and this msn article to create this:

QLC feature word cloud

Again, we see ‘parents’, ‘jobs’ and ‘career’  are frequently used, but so are more personal terms: ‘trapped’, ‘depressed’, ‘feeling(s)’ , fear, ‘age’, ’25’ (a key age as opposed to the spectrum of numbers in the first word cloud), ‘want’, ‘phase’ and many others that display the universal feelings of distress that people can feel in these situations (incidentally Damian Barr, previously interviewed on this blog, also pops up a few times).

Blimey, this is getting a bit depressing; are all QLC articles this gloomy? Well, no; as any of our regular readers can attest, the rib-tickling levels of fun and hilarity that can be squeezed from the QLC knows no bounds; but what do these funnier articles on the topic from Metro, Buzzfeed and our very own Alex Horne (in this post) tell us?

QLC funny

Well, possibly slightly less. Although things are a bit less doom and gloom in these articles (as you might imagine), they also tend to gloss over key parts of the QLC experience (except the one from us, of course. We’re amazing). There are still trends that emerge, however; education, careers and emotional themes keep rising to the fore.

But perhaps you want something a little more helpful, and so for this last word cloud we’ve drawn together some articles which offer practical advice:

QLC helpful articles

It’s essentially what you’d expect. Keep your ‘faith’; one ‘stage’ at a time. ‘QLCs’ can make your ‘twenties’ intolerable, but ‘even’ during them, you must know they’re ‘just’ a ‘stage’.

That might seem pat and cheap, but it’s true. The language of the QLC is as universal as the experience – but also as the simple techniques to get past it are. So that’s what the investigations, the lists and the advice tell you.

As the last word cloud says: Your Move.

(Well, technically it says ‘youre’ and ‘MOVE’ separately, but it’s close enough. Ssh. And Robinson.)

With thanks to www.jasondavies.com for the word cloud programme.

Full list of articles:

The quarterlife crisis: young, insecure and depressed (The Guardian)

Quarter-life crisis: Find me a twentysomething who isn’t having one (The Telegraph)

20-something and stressed? How the quarter-life crisis got worse (MSN News)

Feeling depressed? It may be your quarter-life crisis (New Scientist)

‘Quarter-life’ crisis hits three in four of those aged 26 to 30 (Daily Mail)

10 Signs You’re Having Your Quarter-Life Crisis (Buzzfeed)

6 signs you’re suffering from a quarter-life crisis (Metro)

How to Survive a Quarter-Life Crisis (Self)

7 Cures for Your Quarter-life Crisis (Relevant magazine)

My 20s Weren’t Supposed to Be Like This: Getting Through the Quarter-Life Crisis (The Huffington Post)

Are You Having a Mid-twenties Crisis? (The Huffington Post)

 

Is it just Britain having a Quarter-Life Crisis?

Youth unemployment has been rife in the UK over the last few years, and in Quarter Life Clueless’s opinion is one of the biggest factors as to why quarter-life crisis is such a hot topic at the moment.

However it is fair to say that it’s not just young Brits who are struggling in the job market. Data collated from Eurostat shows that Britain’s youth unemployment rates are in fact no where near as high as those in countries such as France, Spain, Portugal and Italy (no prizes go to those who guessed Greece’s youth were worse off than ours, at least that’s something ‘ey?).

What this all shows is that despite things being pretty grim at the moment in old Blighty, things are a lot worse on the other side of the channel. A discovery that will perhaps be met with cries of Sacre Bleu by our rather less fortunate French counterparts.

 

Screen Shot 2014-05-03 at 16.00.34

 

Stats from Eurostat

 

Country Rate (2013)
Austria 8.90
Belgium 23.10
Canada 13.90
Czech Republic 18.80
Denmark 12.90
Finland 19.40
France 25.60
Germany 7.40
Greece 59.00
Hungary 28.10
Ireland 24.60
Italy 41.60
Japan 7.30
Luxembourg 18.10
Netherlands 11.10
Norway 9.20
Poland 27.40
Portugal 36.30
Spain 54.30
Sweden 22.90
UK 19.90
USA 14.20