In the past year or so, my Facebook newsfeed has become a mélange of targeted articles, all touting a supposedly nuanced idea with an eerily similar theme.
As I scroll through my feed, subconsciously looking for an unflattering photo of a former foe or ex-boyfriend, I am bombarded with titles like:
"How To Know If You're In A Quarter-Life Crisis"
"The 20 Things You NEED To Do In Your 20s"
"Why You Should Quit Your Job And Travel The World During Your Quarter-Life Crisis"
"7 Cat Memes That Perfectly Describe Adulting"
"5 Bras You Need To Own Before You're 30"
I may have exercised some artistic license with the wording of these headlines, but only one of these articles doesn't actually exist, to my knowledge (HINT: it's not the lingerie one... sadly). Regardless, I am reminded and frankly, prodded to acknowledge on an hourly basis that this quarter-life crisis is imminent, unavoidable, and essentially one big to-do list.
So as I venture into this tumultuous, confusing, and, apparently, uber-trendy period of my life, during which I am seemingly morally obligated to say "Yes" to everything and read The Little Prince or else I might die (don't worry, I've read it... twice), I've decided to say NO.
No, I am not going to read every bildungsroman or watch every tear-jerking blockbuster.
No, I am not going to prune my friend group or pick my partner based on BuzzFeed's suggestions.
No, I am not going to know my purpose in life before 30 and I'm not going to quit my job to figure it out.
No, I am not going to check off every single "30 [fill-in-the-blank] before 30."
No, I am not going to tailor my life to a list.
And no, I am not going to have a quarter-life crisis.
Look, I am no expert on "being in your 20s" (What makes someone an expert on "your 20s" anyway? Living them? That makes almost 3.4 billion people "experts") -- but I do know, so far, they can be awesome and they can really suck sometimes. And that's OK.
Your 20s are hard. Going through a big transition, trying to get a job while figuring out what you're truly passionate about, losing friends and making them, paying off student loans and still trying to afford the experiences that supposedly make your 20s "the best time of your life" -- it's hard. Comparing your achievements to those of your parents, your peers, and that weird 14-year-old who's already developed the algorithm to solve world hunger AND world peace is hard. Figuring out who you are and what your purpose on Earth might be while trying to live your life to the fullest and still be able to discuss Making A Murderer is hard. Your 20s are hard. But that doesn't mean they need to be a crisis.
If we recognize and accept that with all the magic of being in your 20s -- a whole world to explore, endless opportunities to create real and powerful change, and a fast metabolism -- come negative side effects, maybe we won't feel so compelled to throw our hands up in exasperation and declare a crisis.
As I venture into this period of my life, sometimes I feel sad; I feel scared or anxious, elated or crazy. Sometimes, I feel all of these emotions at once. But I don't feel in crisis or afflicted. Because being in your 20s doesn't have to mean you're either in "the best time of your life" or in a quarter-life crisis. Maybe the trick to navigating your 20s is to just be.
Stop listening to all of the noise about what's "supposed to be" and just be.